Tony Mowbray’s Coventry City welcome Oldham Athletic to the Ricoh Arena on Saturday and a healthy contingent of supporters are expected to take up the ‘Christmas cracker’ offer. Significantly reduced ticket prices coupled with the probability of some entertaining football means a crowd of over 15,000 should be present to create a good atmosphere.
With this fixture being the first of two consecutive home games for The Sky Blues, they’ll be looking to bounce back from the defeat to Sheffield United with maximum points. Oldham Athletic have made a poor start to the campaign and they’ll be determined to cause an upset, however.
The Sky Blues had strung together a sequence of eleven games without defeat prior to the loss at Bramall Lane. In their last five fixtures they have picked up 2 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. A recent inability to turn performances into results has cost Mowbray’s men and they’ve fallen into 2nd place, 5 points behind Burton Albion who lead the way.
One thing that will certainly fill supporters with confidence, however, is that their side are yet to be defeated on home soil. A total of 38 goals have been scored by the midlands outfit, whilst only 22 have been shipped at the other end. This of course gives City a goal difference of +16 and they’ll see this fixture as an opportunity to increase that statistic.
Oldham Athletic come into the fixture on a run of three straight defeats. Overall, in their past five outings they’ve picked up a solitary victory over Chesterfield and four defeats. This barren spell has caused David Dunn’s side to slip down into the lower reaches of League One and they sit precariously in 23rd position.
Despite their lowly spot in the division, their away form hasn’t been the major problem as they’ve picked up 13 of their 19 points on the road. This will give The Latics’ travelling fans some hope as they will undoubtedly attempt to frustrate Coventry City.
Coventry City will be without captain Sam Ricketts for this clash as he picked up a red card last Sunday, resulting in a one-game suspension. Aaron Phillips is expected to fill in for the Welshman at right-back as new signing Martin Lorentzson tweaked a muscle in training earlier this week.
Reda Johnson, Jordan Willis, Ivor Lawton and Conor Thomas all remain sidelined with long term problems. Other than that, Mowbray has a fully fit squad to select from with Joe Cole recently returning from fitness issues and James Maddison expected to feature after playing 90 minutes for the Under-21’s.
The Latics will travel to Coventry without loanee Jonathan Burn after he returned to parent club Middlesbrough to receive treatment for a knee injury. Last season’s leading goal scorer Jonathan Forte is also absent after he too picked up a knee problem in September.
In terms of the remainder of the squad, they are all fit and available for selection. Former Manchester City, Derby and Norwich winger Lee Croft could be welcomed back into the side after missing a couple of recent fixtures with a calf niggle.
Three To Watch:
After impressing for his hometown club Oldham Athletic at youth level, he was picked up by Chelsea’s academy in 2007. After failing to make the grade with the Premier League giants, he was sent on loan to Oxford United and Sheffield United before signing for the latter permanently in 2011.
However, he once again failed to stamp his mark at Bramall Lane and he rejoined Oxford on a loan deal whereby he only clocked up 4 appearances. Following the Yorkshire side releasing him in January 2013, Mark Robins signed him for Coventry City after a successful trial but Steven Pressley released the forward in April of the same year.
With very little league experience to his name, The Latics took a punt on Philliskirk to re-sign him and ensure a return to Boundary Park. In the time since, he has made a total of 101 appearances for the club and he has scored 12 goals. Despite his unconvincing spell at the Ricoh, City’s supporters could see a player with pace and prowess cause problems on Saturday.
The 25-year old midfielder started his footballing career with Milton Keynes Dons as a youngster but he was released at the end of the 2007-2008 season. Surprisingly, this was due to the club being unable to afford to keep him and various other academy graduates on their books.
A move north of the border then ensued as he joined Kilmarnock to further his progression. Life in Scotland was productive for Kelly as he made a century of appearances for Killie, attracting interest from the likes of West Ham United and Derby County in the process. He then, however, opted to move to Bristol City but his impact there was limited as a result of various injury setbacks.
In the summer of 2014 he then made the switch to Boundary Park and League One as his former team-mate turned manager Lee Johnson secured his services. Kelly was subsequently given the honour of captaining the club and he has become a real favourite amongst supporters. Some impressive performances this term mean he’s certainly one to keep an eye on, but he is linked with a move away from the club in the January transfer window.
Jones is Liam Kelly’s partner in the heart of midfield and he’s become an integral part of David Dunn’s side. He started out at Tranmere Rovers and he naturally filtered into the first team after impressing throughout the youth setup. Only 10 appearances were made on Merseyside though, and after failing to impress on returning from a loan spell at Shrewsbury Town, he was released in 2008.
Bury proved to be his next destination, and it turned out to be the club where he made a name for himself. He made a total of 145 outings for The Shakers over a four-year spell, scoring 19 goals. Impressive performances alerted the interest of Sheffield Wednesday and he transferred to Hillsbrough for an undisclosed fee in January 2012.
After only playing 10 games in a Wednesday shirt, he joined Crawley Town at the end of the 2011-2012 season. Another positive couple of seasons eventually led to Oldham acquiring him in June 2014. Since then he has become a permanent fixture in The Latics’ team and his technical ability can cause any side danger. City will have to be wary of conceding free-kicks also, as Kelly has a knack of putting them away.
“Oldham have been creating chances, have a bit of physicality. They’ll be coming here inspired by our stadium and we have to be ready for them.”
“At home this year we have done better than recent years. We had a big crowd against Gillingham, 15,000 and it inspired the players in the first half. So we’ll be on the front foot.”
View From The Opposition – Danny Philliskirk:
“We need to give ourselves a chance in a game rather than constantly trying to get back into it. That is where we have been letting ourselves down lately.”
“At Sheffield United we were probably a bit unlucky and had a few chances that didn’t go for us before they hit us with a sucker punch.”
“But we pick ourselves up and go again and there is still belief in the squad. We are working for the manager and staff and everyone is striving to fix it, hopefully starting on Saturday.”
With the frustration and disappointment still hanging in the air from Sunday’s defeat to Sheffield United, this encounter offers us a chance to halt a run of three games without a win. What better place to put an end to that sequence than the fortress that is the Ricoh Arena?
It’s yet another game that on paper, seems like a foregone conclusion. However, as I and any other football fans will know, matches can’t be won on such hypotheses. I’m fairly certain that people expected us to beat Blackpool back in October but we didn’t. The cliché of ‘football is a funny old game’ springs to mind.
As The Tangerines did, I’m sure Oldham will come to Coventry with the sole aim being to stay in the game for as long as they can. If they manage to frustrate us our supporters will get impatient and they could snatch yet another point on their travels. Although they sit firmly in the bottom four, they’ve become streetwise away from home.
Some talented players do ply their trade at Boundary Park and I’m backing them to haul themselves out of the current predicament. Again, they’ll be motivated to get a victory that would potentially see them climb out of the relegation zone. The Sky Blues have to be professional in dealing with a potential banana skin, and a killer instinct certainly needs to return for Mowbray’s team to stay in touch with top spot.
Hopefully we will witness a backlash after being denied a result last Sunday. Our players will undoubtedly be determined to get back to winning ways and I’m backing them to achieve that. Even with Sam Ricketts missing out through suspension, our defence should be strong enough to limit The Latics. If Adam Armstrong and Jacob Murphy are on song, I can see us bagging a few goals ourselves.
My Score Prediction:
Coventry City 3-1 Oldham Athletic