The Wrap: Hull City – 1-1

Coventry City were forced to settle for a point at home to Hull City after failing to take advantage of a dominant first-half and conceding a sloppy goal early after the break to fall behind.

It was the youngster, Ryan Howley, who was unfortunate in the lead-up to Hull City’s goal, with his tackle allowing the ball to break to Oscar Estupinan to score his fourth goal of the season against the Sky Blues. From that point onwards, Coventry City lost any kind of rhythm with the ball and left themselves open to the away side on the counter.

That was until a typically brilliant run from Viktor Gyokeres set Matt Godden up for a sharp finish to level the scores. However, the Sky Blues were unable to muster much further pressure on the opposing goal in the game’s closing stages.

Hamer Runs The Show

The first 45 minutes of this game saw Gustavo Hamer stand out as the best player on the pitch, by some distance. Against a Hull City midfield featuring two senior international players, in Jean-Michael Seri and Ozan Tufan, Hamer was constantly a step ahead of his opponents, whether it was in nipping ahead in the challenge or sneaking a pass out from his feet when others would have needed another touch or two, the combination of skill and speed of thought from the midfielder was genuinely outstanding.

Viktor Gyokeres has rightly come in for a lot of praise this season for being a stand-out player with truly unique qualities to his game, this game underlined why Gustavo Hamer should be considered in the same echelon. There may be other players with Hamer’s passing ability, there may be others with his ability to read the game, there are a few that have both and, if there are, there are even fewer who successfully combine that with the urgency Hamer plays with. The midfielder is genuinely the complete package when to midfield play.

In a first-half when little was going on, it was Gustavo Hamer that looked to bend the game to his will, and to his will it was bent. From breaking down Hull City attacks, to picking passes to get Coventry City on the front foot, to then sitting on the edge of the area to play that final ball, Hamer conducted almost everything the Sky Blues did from both a defensive and attacking perspective, with his team well on top. Hull simply could not get close to him and it seemed only a matter of time before Coventry would find a breakthrough via something brilliant Hamer did.

In the second-half, Gustavo Hamer seemed as befuddled as anyone by the tactical changes that Mark Robins made to chase the game, and it was little surprise that the team suffered from Hamer losing his rhythm. It only served to underline the midfielder’s importance even further, when Hamer plays well, Coventry City play well, with the opposite also being true.

Unsuited To The Front Foot?

So many of Coventry City’s best performances this season have been predicated on defence-first, counter-attacking football, in this game, the Sky Blues found themselves on the front foot for long spells but struggled to convert that into genuine danger on Hull City’s goal. This was exacerbated by an unfortunately conceded goal early in the second-half that only forced them even further onto the front foot and even further into frustration.

The absences of Ben Sheaf, Jamie Allen, Kasey Palmer and Callum O’Hare from the midfield did not help Coventry City in their efforts in breaking down their opponents in this game. As outstanding as Gustavo Hamer was, he would have been especially effective had there been someone further ahead of him capable of playing that final pass after all the legwork Hamer was putting in further back. While Josh Eccles and Ryan Howley had their moments in this game, they were a split-second less decisive in their use of the ball and couldn’t quite find those telling passes the team needed of them.

The other key area in which Coventry City came up short was in wide areas, which has been a recurring theme this season. Again, it was a good effort from Fankaty Dabo and Jake Bidwell but the quality wasn’t quite there. Dabo was typically hesitant to put crosses in early, forcing himself into needing to beat multiple defenders to open up space, allowing Hull City’s defence to set itself. On the left, Bidwell had the opposite issue, of crossing before assessing his options, with one decision in the first-half to float a ball over to a marked Matt Godden rather than pull it back to a completely free Viktor Gyokeres standing out as particularly egregious.

The decision to bring on Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Jack Burroughs and Josh Wilson-Esbrand in the second-half saw some better quality in wide areas from Coventry City but the sacrifice of control in order to get them on the pitch limited their influence on proceedings. Moreover, the Sky Blues may be short on genuinely creative players but there is little sense of a pattern or structure to the team’s attacking play, which is why it seems to be such an issue to break opponents down through long spells of possession.

Falling Apart To Chase The Game

After dominating the first 50 minutes of this game, Coventry City were fortunate in the end not to have lost after a nearly-disastrous effort to chase the game. Mark Robins’ changes saw his team sacrifice the control they once had in favour of greater attacking numbers on the pitch, but without a supply line to feed those additional forwards, the Sky Blues saw little benefit from it and, instead, left themselves incredibly open to Hull City on the counter-attack.

It was hard to tell initially what shape Mark Robins had moved the team to after his first batch of changes – Sean Maguire and Brooke Norton-Cuffy for Kyle McFadzean and Ryan Howley – with the Sky Blues looking to be playing something between a lop-sided 4-3-1-2 and something more akin to the 3-4-1-2 that they started the game with. The main sources of confusion were where Fankaty Dabo was supposed to be playing and how Sean Maguire was supposed to fit between the front-line.

A theme of the second-half was Coventry City misplacing passes and allowing Hull City to mount dangerous counter-attacks. The reason why passes were being misplaced was because players seemed uncertain as to where they were supposed to be in relation to one another, and that lack of familiarity made it hard to spot quick balls into team-mates in space.

An equaliser may have eventually arrived, but it came from Viktor Gyokeres producing individual brilliance to muscle off multiple defenders and carry the ball before a swift Matt Godden finish, but it wasn’t a reflection of the pattern of play. The Sky Blues looked somewhat more fluid as a result of that confidence boost of the goal, but they never really were able to control the game in the manner they had in the first-half as the game limped to a draw.

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