The Wrap: Queens Park Rangers – 2-0

Coventry City cruised to a 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers in the last game before the World Cup break, to make it four wins in a row.

The Sky Blues were off to an excellent start, with a Callum O’Hare cross finding its way to Viktor Gyokeres to finish past Seny Dieng in the QPR goal to make it 1-0 in the 11th-minute. The rest of the first-half was pretty comfortable stuff from the home side as they stroked the ball around with ease, denying their opponents any time to even consider a response to that early goal.

Queens Park Rangers threatened to come into the game in the second-half, but that their best chance came via a long-range strike from their centre-back, Rob Dickie, summed up their afternoon. Coventry City wrapped the win up with 12 minutes left, as Callum O’Hare set through Viktor Gyokeres to make it 2-0.

Masters Of Their Domain

The story of this game was Coventry City scoring early and seeing out the win with little fuss. Without pummelling the Queens Park Rangers goal with shots or possession, the Sky Blues sucked the life out of their opponents via energy in the press, intelligent defending and occasional moments of quality. The utter lack of jeopardy for Coventry in this game spoke to how high confidence levels currently are.

Coventry City started the game energetically, with the goal coming from Callum O’Hare pestering a defender in order to keep the ball alive, before it eventually found its way to Viktor Gyokeres to turn home. Much of the rest of the first-half saw the Sky Blues stroke the ball around confidently to keep Queens Park Rangers at arm’s length. It was patient, yet purposeful. Stylish, but not for the sake of it. Confident, but not cocky.

The second-half saw Queens Park Rangers see more of the ball and threaten to come back into the game, but Coventry City remained calm in how they went about their duties. The defence were under pressure and occasionally turned, but there was little panic. There was a confidence that there would be cover if gaps opened up, which provided players the belief that they could compete for the ball with little fear of the consequences of failure.

Confidence was the number one factor in this victory. The ball constantly seemed to fall Coventry City’s way, which appeared to be luck but was the result of players having the belief they could gamble in individual situations and come out successfully. Whether this is sustainable is another question, but this team is benefitting right now from a lot of hard work that has dug them out of a hole and put them in a great place both in terms of league position and morale. Hopefully, that can be maintained by the time the league resumes in four weeks’ time.

McFadzean Leads The Way

Kyle McFadzean continues to find ways to make himself invaluable for this Coventry City team, even in spite of his advancing years. This was a performance that highlighted how he not only makes some excellent indvidual contributions but that his role as a leader in the back-line remains utterly essential for this Sky Blues outfit.

On top of his individual battle with Queens Park Rangers’ battering ram centre-forward, Lyndon Dykes, Kyle McFadzean set the tone for an all-round assured defensive performance from Coventry City. This allowed the wide centre-backs and midfield the platform to crowd out QPR’s creative players, robbing the away side of fluency on the ball and limiting their threat mainly to set-pieces and the odd long-range shot.

There was one moment in the first-half when Queens Park Rangers’ managed to get in behind Jonathan Panzo in the Coventry City defence, nearly leading to a big chance, but Kyle McFadzean was there to cover ably despite his lack of pace. After that opening, McFadzean could be seen lecturing Panzo on the mistake he had made in being caught out of position, highlighting his role as the team’s leader.

It can be hard to assess intangible qualities such as leadership from the stands, but even as a spectator, it is apparent that this is where Kyle McFadzean excels. Whether it’s in those moments when mistakes are made and he can be seen as the one pointing out what the error was, or from being able to hear his voice when the team isn’t sure where to play a throw-in, it is clear that McFadzean is someone who steers this team through games.

On top of that, Kyle McFadzean is benefitting from the confidence that is currently coursing through this Coventry City team. It’s only a few games ago that McFadzean was taken off because he wasn’t good enough on the ball to help the team chase a draw against Rotherham United, here he was pinging cross-field passes like he’d been doing so for years and nearly scored from a charge up the pitch.

Those flair moments were nice, but this was a display from Kyle McFadzean that was all about the nitty-gritty of steering a team through tough test against a challenging opponent. One notable lapse aside, if it hadn’t been for McFadzean, Coventry City wouldn’t have nearly have had the level of control that they had in this game.

Intelligence and Energy In Midfield

This four-game winning streak has been underpinned by a midfield that has found a really nice balance between playing quick, passing football and knowing exactly when to apply pressure to opponents. It means that Coventry City can play some excellent stuff when they need to but not at the cost of defensive solidity. They are as responsible for the goals the team have been scoring as they have been the clean sheets.

The key part of this balance in midfield has been the returns of Callum O’Hare and Gustavo Hamer as options for Mark Robins to choose from. Both can be very aggressive when it comes to pressing the ball, but they have a tactical intelligence in the manner in which they do so. With O’Hare, it is remarkable how often he seems to appear from nowhere to force opposing defenders into turning uncomfortably on the ball, or give it away, which doesn’t happen by accident. With Hamer, his ability to anticipate the bounce of the ball in central midfield can quickly change defence into attack.

Callum O’Hare and Gustavo Hamer have been aided in their efforts over the past few games by Ben Sheaf returning to form after a bit of a wobbly period last month. While Sheaf will get forward – underlined by how often recently has he got to a second ball on the edge of the penalty area in a shooting position – he seems to be benefitting from having the more attack-minded Hamer alongside him in order to define his role as the deepest-lying midfield player. Sheaf made several important interceptions in this game to help shut down the dangerous Ilias Chair and Chris Willock for QPR, on top of some really good passes to convert those turnovers in possession into threatening counter-attacks.

Having Viktor Gyokeres as an incredibly high-class battering ram in attack really helps open things up for the midfield, which shouldn’t be underestimated despite the Swede having been barely mentioned in this article. Additionally, Josh Eccles at right wing-back has also contributing to the team’s intelligence in the middle of the park by making some smart runs down his wing and also in how he will move the ball inside when he spots the opportunity to, helping the team keep possession and sustain attacking pressure.

The design of the midfield at the moment has helped this team evolve from one that was solely looking to sit deep, soak up pressure and avoid conceding goals to one that has started to force the issue by unsettling opponents high up the pitch and quickly working efforts on goal. It must make this Coventry City team such a pain to deal with, as they demand a very high level of focus from their opposition to find ways to even get close to goal.

1 thought on “The Wrap: Queens Park Rangers – 2-0

  1. Another confident, measured performance. Robins really has the team well drilled, with everyone knowing their job and responsibilities. Add in the flair from O’Hare, Hamer, and the big Swede and we have quite a team.

    I think the break has come just at the right time. The whole squad probably needs a break and a bit of R&R. Come back, carry on as we have been playing, then by March we might be In with a shout of something interesting!

    Thanks for the reports, for those of us who can’t get to many games, they really give something that the Telegraph doesn’t!
    Cheers

    Like

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