The Wrap: Luton Town – 2-2

Coventry City battled for a well-earned draw at Kenilworth Road in a frantic contest.

Viktor Gyokeres had two excellent chances early on to put the Sky Blues ahead, making it grimly inevitable that Luton Town would not only score from their first shot goal, but their second also. At the very least, a goal of Viktor Gyokeres’ own sandwiched those two Luton strikes to give Coventry City something to work with in the second-half.

There were moments for the Sky Blues to get back into the game, but it was only when an excellent long-range strike from Gustavo Hamer hit the back of the net to draw things level that there was belief that a result could be salvaged. From pretty much that point onwards, Coventry City were under the cosh, but they did just about enough at the back to earn the draw.

Once Again… The Defence

Two shots, two goals conceded. It was very familiar stuff from Coventry City’s defence in this game. At this point, it is hard to know what there is new to say about this disastrous Sky Blues back-line.

The two goals were the result of two very similar situations. One defender pushes up, doesn’t win their battle, and leaves space behind them for the opposition to exploit. For the first goal, Callum Doyle losing a duel causes Kyle McFadzean to be dragged out of position, allowing for the cross that Fankaty Dabo sliced into the path of Luton Town’s Carlton Morris. The the second, Kyle McFadzean is second-best in an attempt to win the ball, providing the opening for a Harry Cornick through ball for Morris’ second.

The issue isn’t necessarily that the defenders are losing their individual battles, it is the lack of awareness from those around them to provide cover. It is an important part of defending to occasionally step up the pitch and enter challenges assertively in order to force the opposition away from goal. It is very rare for defenders to win the ball every time they do so, they need their defensive colleagues to be aware of the worst-case scenario and provide cover.

Whether that lack of awareness is down to individuals or a lack of attention to detail in training is impossible to tell from the sidelines as a fan. What is apparent about this crop of Coventry City defenders is that they are often second-best in their individual duels, thus it is incumbent on their colleagues to be more switched-on in providing cover. The Sky Blues’ first season in the Championship showed that it doesn’t take talented defenders to form a defence that can keep clean sheets at this level, organisation and awareness that can go a long way.

If this team continues to concede at the rate it is doing so, there is only one way this season is going.

The Viktor Gyokeres Dilemma

Viktor Gyokeres was, by a clear distance, Coventry City’s biggest threat in the first-half. Clean through on goal within the first minute, on the end of another excellent opportunity in the penalty area soon after, before eventually grabbing himself a goal. It may be frustrating that he didn’t take those two earlier chances to put the Sky Blues ahead, but it shouldn’t be underestimated how important that continual threat he offered on the break was in preventing Luton Town from completely taking control of this game.

Nonetheless, there were also sections of this match that highlighted the issues that Viktor Gyokeres can cause this Coventry City team. The Swede is so good when he has space to run into, when he is denied that, he has a tendency to pull out wide and run down blind alleys. When the Sky Blues could release Gyokeres on the counter-attack, the team looked genuinely dangerous. When Luton Town could get men behind the ball, Gyokeres ended up pulling out wide, leaving himself with multiple opponents to beat and having a much harder time threatening goal.

That is Viktor Gyokeres’ style of play, however, when the team is chasing the game against an opponent that is looking to sit in, it exposes what is a lack of structure in Coventry City’s attacking play otherwise. Matt Godden was well-marked because Gyokeres was often so far apart from him, Gustavo Hamer and Ben Sheaf had few options on the ball due to a lack of aggression in the wing-backs’ positioning, it was rather static stuff in possession for periods of this game from the Sky Blues.

That the equaliser came from an excellent long-range strike from Gustavo Hamer almost papers over the issue that this team isn’t great at working chances against a set defence. On Viktor Gyokeres’ part, the conundrum is whether the team is better off him playing in a more static central position in these situations, which might not suit his game, or sticking to what works for him.

As much as the plan should be to play to the strengths of one of Coventry City’s best players, that is a plan that relies on the team being able to play on the counter-attack. This is more difficult to do from a losing position and snakes back around to the Sky Blues’ biggest issue continuing to be their defence.

Something, Maybe, To Build On

As much as there may be a feeling that this is a game Coventry City really could have won – from those big Viktor Gyokeres’ chances to the ‘what if’ of whether this Sky Blues defence wasn’t quite so intent on conceding two goals per game – to have fought back for a point when just about everything looked to be going against this team has to be seen as a positive.

Maybe this is down to a set of professionals simply doing their jobs, but it is hard to see the evidence of a rumoured suggestions of a disharmonious camp at Coventry City. A team that lacks motivation wouldn’t have kept going after falling behind so early. A team that lacks motivation wouldn’t have kept going after falling behind again so soon after equalising. A team that lacks motivation wouldn’t have held on for a point under the pressure Luton Town put them under.

A more tangible thing to hold onto could be how things seemed to settle down in defence following the injury-enforced substitution of Michael Rose. Maybe it was because things couldn’t get worse, but there seemed a level of gutsiness and awareness at the back across that final hour of the game that wasn’t there earlier. As nervy as Callum Doyle and Jonathan Panzo looked at times, they stuck to the task ahead of them and made things much more difficult for Luton Town than they previously had been.

The challenge now is not only to translate the positive aspects of this performance into games going forward, but to put points on the board while doing so. The fixture catch-up that Coventry City will have to play this season means that they are going to be in the relegation zone for a long stretch of this campaign. That is going to bring pressure, knowing that this team can win games and pick up points will be vital in easing that.

While this performance gives the Sky Blues something to build on, it is now six games without a win and two points to start the season.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close