The year of 2015 draws to a close on Monday in terms of footballing fixtures. Both Chesterfield and Coventry City will be hoping to end on a high and go into 2016 with a win under their belts. There is no doubting that it has been a rollercoaster ride for all related to The Sky Blues, but Tony Mowbray has transformed the side and it would be fitting to conclude the year with victory.
A gargantuan following of over 2600 City supporters will make the trip to The Proact Stadium and they could make a real difference. The recent slump in form hasn’t been too harmful in regards to any promotion hopes, but fans and players alike will be desperate to pick up another three points. The home side, however, would probably settle for a draw as they aim to pull away from the relegation zone.
Chesterfield’s recent form hasn’t been too convincing and they’ve fallen to a lowly 20th position, just 2 points above the relegation places. After reaching the play-offs last season under Paul Cook, Dean Saunders’ newly inherited team got off to a dreadful start in the current campaign and he subsequently lost his job at the tail end of November. Danny Wilson has since took the reigns of The Spireites.
In their last five outings in League One, they have been defeated in each of those fixtures. You have to look back to the end of October for their last victory in the league, a 1-0 triumph away at Fleetwood town. Despite this, they have amassed a total of 23 points from the same number of games so far this term.
Coventry City haven’t been in the best form of late, but they’ve still sustained their push towards the top of the division. Tony Mowbray’s side currently lie in 4th place with a total of 43 points from 23 games. A huge contributing factor to their success is an ability to score goals, especially at the Ricoh Arena where they remain unbeaten.
Looking at The Sky Blues’ last five league meetings, however, they have only registered 1 win, 3 draws and 1 defeat. One thing that may give Chesterfield supporters some hope is the fact that all of Coventry’s defeats have come away from home.
Chesterfield are having mixed fortunes in regards to injuries. Defender Dan Jones and midfielder Angel Martinez are both unable to feature for the rest of the season due to a fractured ankle and anterior cruciate ligament damage respectively. One other probable absentee is right-back Drew Talbot, although he is only sidelined for 2-3 weeks with a hamstring strain. Charlie Raglan and Dan Gardner are also being monitored after being replaced as a precaution during Saturday’s defeat at Peterborough.
The home side do, however, have a number of players returning from the injury table. Striker Lee Novak has been struggling with a thigh strain of late, but he should be back to full fitness for Coventry’s visit. Chris Herd and Richard Wood are also expected to be in contention for the fixture, along with Sam Morsy who has recently served a two-match ban after reaching ten yellow cards.
The Sky Blues are struggling in the defensive areas at the moment after Ben Turner’s ankle injury caused his loan to be cut short. Reda Johnson and Jordan Willis also remain sidelined for a lengthy period of time, leaving Mowbray precariously low on defensive cover. Ivor Lawton and Conor Thomas continue to receive treatment also, although neither were first choice in the middle of the park.
John Fleck missed out again on Boxing Day as The Sky Blues ran out 1-0 victors over Port Vale. However, he could return to the midfield on Monday. James Maddison could also be worthy of a start after notching the winning goal on Saturday. It is a possibility that Mowbray will name an unchanged lineup, however.
Three To Watch:
Tommy Lee is a goalkeeper that grew up representing Manchester United through the youth ranks. In 2004 he was then handed a professional deal at Old Trafford, this alone shows how much ability the shot stopper possesses. However, after failing to break into the first team, he was loaned out to Macclesfield Town and he made the switch permanent in 2006 after impressing.
During his time with The Silkmen, he made over 50 appearances including an outing versus Chelsea in the FA cup. He did fall out of favour though and he was subsequently loaned out to Rochdale in March 2008 where he played 11 times, including a play-off final tie at Wembley versus Stockport County. Lee was then released by Macclesfield on his return.
In September 2008, his move to Chesterfield was made and he has never looked back. Now in his seventh season at the club, he has developed into a very good goalkeeper who is adored by the fans. A number of accolades have also been picked up by the 29-year old, most notably being selected as man of the match in both legs of Chesterfield’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final victory over Swindon in 2012.
The midfield maestro started his footballing journey at a young age after being picked up by Wolverhampton Wanderers’ academy. Unfortunately, after nine years at the club he was released in 2008. Port Vale were quick to act though, and Morsy switched to The Valiants almost immediately and this is where he made his professional debut in February 2010.
After establishing himself within the first team during the 2010/11 season, he was handed a two-year contract. Clocking up 71 appearances for Vale kickstarted his career and some impressive displays during the promotion season of 2012/13 attracted interest. He then rejected a fresh contract offer after a despute with manager Micky Adams, Chesterfield then secured his services.
Since moving to The Spireites in 2013 he has enjoyed a productive spell. He was a key figure in the 2013/14 campaign and some brilliant performances helped his side gain promotion to League One, as well as reaching the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final. Being made captain soon followed and he skippered the team to the play-offs in the third tier last season. He has again been instrumental so far this term, but supporters fear that he may leave the club in January.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is a well travelled striker that is known throughout the footballing circles. After rejecting a scholarship at Cambridge United to join Manchester United’s academy in 2002. He then went on to make a few appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the League Cup before being released in 2006.
In the years since, the striker has played for five different clubs in England. His most productive spells came at Plymouth Argyle and Wolverhampton Wanderers where he made 66 and 177 appearances respectively. After being released in 2013 following Wolves’ relegation to League One, he has struggled to live up to his past self.
Chesterfield then took a gamble on him in the summer of 2015 by taking him to The Proact Stadium. He has been a standout performer in a miserable season so far, scoring 7 goals. His physicality makes him a real handful for opposition defences and he comes alive in the box. He’ll certainly be looking to put an end to a barren spell on Monday.
From The Home Camp – Romain Vincelot
“We have to be careful. We can’t afford to be too relaxed because of their bad run because the longer the run goes the closer it gets to its end.”
“We just have to make sure we’re not the ones to give them their first win for a long time.”
“We are quite good away from home but we don’t know what we will face because even when we went to Sheffield United they were sitting behind the ball. We don’t know if they are going to come for us or if we have to be patient.”
With Chesterfield sitting in the lower echelons of League One, this will certainly be another game that we are expected to win. However, our away form hasn’t been too brilliant this term so a slight doubt always creeps into my mind. We’ve only lost four times this season though, but all of those defeats have occurred on the road.
Our form of late hasn’t been great either, allowing us to slip from the top of the table into 4th position. However, the fact we still aren’t losing games is a huge bonus and Saturday’s battling win over Port Vale shows it’s not quite time to worry. One thing we do have to start doing more frequently again though is scoring goals.
With a mass of travelling fans crammed into the away section on Monday, the noise we create could potentially suck the ball into the net as it did on occasions last term. Of course, the level of support could add pressure, but we have enough to respond positively to that as we’ve shown in front of big crowds at the Ricoh this season.
In Chesterfield, we will be taking on one of the lowest scoring sides in the division. Nonetheless, although we will look to make it consecutive clean sheets, the battle between Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and our central pairing will be very interesting. If we can keep him quiet, I think another shutout may be on the cards.
Adam Armstrong has struggled on his travels, only scoring 2 goals away, both of them at Milwall. He will be hoping to break that trend and he’ll fancy his chances against a side who have conceded 39 goals. The likes of Jacob Murphy and Ryan Kent will be itching to impress also, which makes me confident of another victory to conclude the year’s action.
My Score Prediction:
Chesterfield 0-2 Coventry City