After Tuesday night’s draw away at Bradford City, Tony Mowbray’s Sky Blues will be looking to return to winning ways when Doncaster travel to the Ricoh Arena on Saturday. Both sides will be in confident mood going into the tie, and although there only looks to be one winner on paper, it could prove to be a tight affair.
Donny’s recent record at the Ricoh will give them hope too, despite their lowly league position. Darren Ferguson is desperate for his side to string together a positive sequence of results, but he knows that ending Coventry’s unbeaten home form is a huge task. As a tough winter period kicks in throughout the football league, both sets of players will be vying for another set of three valuable points.
Coventry City have been in tantalising form of late, amassing an unbeaten run of ten games. The Sky Blues’ last league defeat came away to Bury on the 26th of September. In their last five outings, Mowbray’s men have picked up an almost perfect 4 wins and 1 draw which equates to 13 points.
This impressive run of results has seen Coventry soar to the top of the league and confidence is rife within the camp. Supporters of the midlands outfit have certainly been treated to some breathtaking football this campaign. Adam Armstrong has gained deserved plaudits for his contribution of 12 goals, but his side have scored a total of 36. Defensively, The Sky Blues have been impressive too and this has allowed them to earn 38 points.
Rovers haven’t made a great start to the current campaign, but to their supporters’ relief they have started to improve. In their last five League One fixtures they’ve picked up 3 wins and 2 losses, their latest triumph coming on Tuesday night as they swept aside Chesterfield 3-0 at The Keepmoat Stadium.
Although they were tipped to be contenders for the play-off positions before a ball was even kicked, Ferguson’s side currently occupy 16th position. The main factor to their deficiencies has undoubtedly been their failure to score goals. Being joint-bottom in the scoring charts for the division isn’t something they’ll be proud of, and only Crewe share their poor record of 18 goals scored. Finding the net is something they could find tricky against a sturdy Coventry back line.
The Sky Blues are still without Reda Johnson and Ivor Lawton as the pair are sidelined for the remainder of the season. Jordan Willis also joins them on the treatment table and he is expected to be out for four months with a knee problem. Joe Cole is also highly unlikely to feature due to fitness doubts, but on a positive note, James Maddison is nearing a return and he should be fit within a fortnight.
After missing Tuesday’s tight contest versus The Bantams with a muscular issue, John Fleck is back in contention after he trained this week. Tony Mowbray has the rest of the squad to choose from and he could opt to name an unchanged side. However, Ryan Kent is expected to be given a starting berth again after an impressive cameo appearance in midweek.
Doncaster have got a good bill of health and they could name an unchanged lineup after they thumped Chesterfield 3-0 in the week. One player that certainly won’t be featuring, however, is Keshi Anderson who returned to parent club Crystal Palace after sustaining a serious injury.
Harry Forrester and Luke McCullough could return after missing Tuesday’s game with a virus. Richard Chaplow, Rob Jones, Gary MacKenzie, Paul Keegan, Curtis Main and Mitchell Lund are all sidelined too and they’re extremely unlikely to play any part in the game. Richie Wellens has also joined Oldham on an emergency loan deal, so he won’t be available either.
Ones To Watch:
Butler has enjoyed a career in the football league and he’s a well travelled defender. After coming through Scunthorpe’s youth system, he broke in to the first-team and went on to make 153 appearances for The Iron in six years spanning from 2002 to 2008.
After opting to decline a new contract offer at Glanford Park, the centre back joined Huddersfield Town so he could be closer to home. He played a total of 53 games for the then League One club, before joining Walsall in 2010. The honour of being made captain was then given to Butler when Dean Smith was appointed as manager in late 2010 and his career at the West Midlnds outfit took off. However, after totting up 178 appearances and becoming a fan favourite at the Bescott, the defender signed for Sheffield United in 2014. This move didn’t go to plan though, and after failing to break into the side he was loaned back to Walsall and then Doncaster. The latter then signed him for an undisclosed fee in January 2015 and he’s enjoyed life at his home-town club to date.
Being a regular at the heart of the Donny defence, The Sky Blues will be coming up against a physical and experienced defender. His aerial ability is undoubted too, which could cause City some problems from set pieces. He will certainly a key ingredient to any success that Doncaster prospectively have.
A midfielder that has certainly had a huge impact during his time at The Keepmoat Stadium, Coppinger has been an ever-present during his lengthy spell at the club. After signing for Newcastle United from Darlington in 1998, he only made a solitary outing for The Toon and he was subsequently loaned out to Hartlepool whereby he resurrected his career.
In 2002, he then joined up with Exeter City where he played 82 times, scoring 13 goals. Following this spell, Doncaster were attracted to him and they acquired his services in 2004 for a reported fee of £30,000. This would now be seen as a bargain as he’s cemented his place in the club’s folklore. He’s now made over 400 appearances and he is currently in his twelfth season with Rovers.
The former England U16 starlet is now 34 years old and an experienced head in Darren Ferguson’s side. Despite his age, fitness is barely an issue for Coppinger and he is a real engine in midfield. His bite and determination is coupled with a natural footballing ability, and he could be a potential problem for The Sky Blues.
Sky Blues supporters will know Williams from his recent stint at Swindon Town, mainly due to the fact he scored against Coventry on a few occasions. The 29-year old winger is now plying his trade at Donny after he opted to join them over a host of other clubs who were interested in taking him.
After coming through Hereford United’s ranks, he made a name for himself with 17 goals in 74 appearances. Bristol Rovers then pursued an interest in him and they tempted him to sign in 2007. Williams then recorded 87 games over a three-year spell but he only managed to find the net 8 times during that time.
From 2010 to 2015, his career began to take a turn for the better as he clocked up a combined total of 161 appearances for Yeovil Town and Swindon Town, scoring 53 goals. After his contract had run down at The County Ground, the attacker traded Swindon for Doncaster as he seeked out pastures new.
He made the move to The Keepmoat in the summer of 2015 and he’s been ever present this season. His form, however, hasn’t been too great and he’s only managed to notch 3 goals in 17 outings in a flailing Doncaster attack. Despite this, Mowbray’s men still need to be aware of the problems he can cause. Good technical ability and relentless running are attributed he possesses and he can be very dangerous on his day.
“Being top of the table I think teams are changing the way they play and prepare against us. They might play one way for three weeks and then change it all for us. But the important thing is to focus on your own players and what we can do.”
“Donny have been playing three at the back but maybe they will thinking of changing that to deal with our threats.”
“We are all respectful of the opposition. Darren Ferguson is a very good coach and they’ll be a good football team.”
View From The Opposition – Darren Ferguson
“We’ve now got a game against the team at the top of the table, which will be difficult, but every game is winnable. It’s a game I’m really looking forward to and the players should too. It’s a really good challenge against a team that’s doing well at the moment.”
“In this league, as Tony Mowbray and Coventry know, if you’re not at it then you’ll get beat and that’s what we’re looking to do; go there and win.”
“I think we have to focus on what we’ve done well – the performance the other night and at Blackpool, our last away game was good.”
“You want consistent performances, hopefully to the levels of Chesterfield in the second half and Blackpool in the first half. That, as a manager, is all you can ask for. You do need a bit of luck but I think if you get those levels of consistency in your performances, you’ve got every chance.”
With our current home record and our increasingly impressive string of results, I and every other City supporter have sufficient reason to be expectant. However, football doesn’t always pan out as it should and this tie will pose us with another obstacle to overcome.
Despite Doncaster’s dismal start to the campaign in relation to where they’d be hoping to be, this is yet another game whereby they have the oppurtinity to partly resurrect their season. I doubt that many people will be predicting a Rovers win, however, if they come to frustrate us and battle for a point then that could come to fruition.
We’ve seen it already this season when the likes of Blackpool came to town. If teams park a bus in front of their goal it can be a very tough task in breaking them down, even with our remarkably pacy forward line. However, I do think that if we do break through then the floodgates could well open.
Defensively, the introduction of ‘Big Ben’ Turner has shored us up considerably. The absence of Reda Johnson had previously affected our stability, but his boots have now been metaphorically filled for the time being. This has also allowed skipper Sam Ricketts to shift back out to the right and he is much more effective in that role, providing great support both defensively and going forward.
It could all come down to the midfield battle yet again, and on paper, you’d argue that we have the best in the division. Of course, our goal scorers will always grab the headlines but our engine room in the middle has won us a lot of games. John Fleck may miss out, but him and Romain Vincelot have been exceptional. If the aforementioned doesn’t feature, Gael Bigirimana has staked a claim after a controlled performance on Tuesday.
We have an abundance of quality all over the field and we have depth within our squad too this term. I believe that if we perform to our maximum, we are capable of putting any team to the sword in this league. We’ve shown we can fight our way through games physically too. The display at Bradford epitomised this and it’s refreshing to see, we can pick up results in a variety of manners. Providing we find the perfect blend between organisation and fluidity at the weekend, I can’t see past a City win.
My Score Prediction:
Coventry City 2-0 Doncaster Rovers