Coventry City face Scunthorpe United at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday and Tony Mowbray’s side will be looking to halt a run of two successive defeats. The last time the sides met, a Paddy Madden goal proved to be the winner as Mark Robins’ outfit provailed 1-0 at Glanford Park.
With The Sky Blues’ unbeaten home record now non-existent, the travelling fans will be in confident mood and they’ll be hoping that their manager-less group of players can cause an upset. A victory for either side could prove to be an important one, but the expectancy is for Coventry to refuel their promotion push.
The Sky Blues haven’t been in the best of form lately and a poor sequence of results has certainly been detrimental to any promotion bid. In their last five League One fixtures, the midlands outfit have recorded one win, two draws and two losses. This has led to frustration from sections of the fan base as they have now slipped to 5th position.
Coventry’s recent defeats to Burton Albion and Southend United signalled the first time that Mowbray’s men have suffered consecutive league defeats in the 2015/16 season. Opposition teams are beginning to exploit the frailties in the defence, and this has lead to a brief demise along with the reduced rate of goals scored.
Scunthorpe United travel to the Ricoh in positive mood following a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Colchester last weekend. The Iron also picked up a win versus Doncaster on Boxing Day, but they’ve recorded draws at home to Rochdale and Wigan as well as a damaging 5-0 defeat courtesy of Blackpool. This run of two wins, two draws and one defeat from their last five games has left them in 16th position.
Despite having a fairly average defensive record of 36 goals conceded in 27 outings, goals have been a real struggle to find for a Scunny side who were tipped for a solid season. The Iron have only found the net on 31 occasions and subsequently they lurk in the lower section of mid-table. 18 of these have been scored on their travels, however, and they’ll be looking to add to that tally with another away victory.
Coventry City are sweating over the fitness of loan pair Adam Armstrong and Jacob Murphy after they both sustained minor injuries. The youngsters have 25 league goals between them but they missed the defeat to Southend, although Mowbray is hopeful that they’ll feature this time around.
Long term absentees Reda Johnson, Aaron Martin, Jordan Willis and Ivor Lawton are definitely ruled out. Meanwhile, John Fleck will watch from the stands as he still has to serve one more game of his two-match ban for receiving ten yellow cards. The remainder of the squad are in contention for a starting berth, and some fresh faces may also be welcomed before the weekend.
The Iron will travel to Coventry with a strong squad at their disposal. Former sky blue Gary McSheffrey played for the Under 21’s on Tuesday and he is set to make his return to the first team after undergoing a knee operation. Niall Canavan is a major doubt due to an ankle injury and Kevin Van Veen’s presence is also doubtful as he is suffering with a minor problem but he is likely to have a place in the team after completing gym work throughout the week.
In terms of the rest of the playing staff, Scunthorpe are in good health and they’ll be looking to inflict defeat on Coventry. Caretaker manager Nick Daws is likely to name the same starting eleven that dismantled Colchester in their last game. It would be of no surprise to see them utilise the 4-4-2 diamond formation with Tom Hopper and Paddy Madden leading the line.
Three To Watch:
The Republic of Ireland international is a respected player within the football league and he is known for his ability to score goals. He began his career in Dublin with Bohemians where he earned a reputation as a prolific goal scorer. His move to England then came to fruition in January 2011 as Carlisle United paid an undisclosed fee to acquire his services.
During his time with the Cumbrian club he clocked up 32 appearances, scoring 2 goals. After struggling to cement a place within the starting eleven at Brunton Park, he was loaned out to Yeovil Town in October 2012 before making the switch permanent in January 2013. His first season at the club saw him notch 24 goals in all competitions, including one in the League One play-off final victory over Brentford at Wembley.
However, after failing to perform in the Championship he joined then League Two Scunthorpe United. He played a pivotal role in their promotion to League One last term and he’s made a solid start to this season too, finding the net 16 times in all competitions. His pace and natural ability could pose real danger, but Coventry’s defence will hope to keep him quiet.
Neal Bishop grew up in the academy at Middlesbrough, but after failing to make the grade, he was left without a club and he had to drop to non-league level to ply his trade. The midfielder enjoyed stints at Billingham Town, Gateshead, Spennymoor United, Whitby Town, Scarborough and York City before sealing a deal to League Two Barnet in June 2007.
He then spent two seasons with The Bees, making a total of 83 appearances and scoring 3 goals. Despite being offered a fresh contract at Barnet in the summer of 2009, he opted to switch allegiances and join fellow League Two side Notts County. He soon became a favourite at Meadow Lane and he played a key role in The Magpies’ promotion to League One in 2009-10. He was then made captain of the team and he made 168 appearances before leaving in 2013.
Blackpool would be his next stop and he made 35 outings for The Tangerines during the 2013-14 campaign. Upon his contract expiring, he moved to Scunthorpe in June 2014 and he has remained there since. Now an imposing figure in the centre of midfield, Bishop is a mainstay in the team and his physicality provides The Iron with much needed steel.
Luke Williams is a name that Coventry City fans will remember after he spent a short time on loan with the club. The young attacking midfielder progressed through the youth ranks at Middlesbrough before earning a professional contract in 2010. He was sporadically used at The Riverside and accumulated only 23 appearances despite being contracted to the club for six years.
During that time, he was also sent out on loan to Hartlepool United, Scunthorpe United, Coventry City and Peterborough where he gained vital experience. In the summer of 2015, Scunthorpe then chose to purchase the player for an undisclosed fee and he hooked up with the Glanford Park side in time for this season.
Injuries have proved to be a hindrance for him thus far, but he has been very influential when fit. He is in line to start on Saturday and he will be looking to silence the home fans with a good performance. Playing in the number 10 position has allowed him to orchestrate forward ventures, and he could be dangerous when linking up with the front line.
From The Home Camp – Tony Mowbray:
“It’s a home game and we are proud of our record there this year and try to take a positive view in the game.”
“Scunthorpe will have a bit of confidence about them after a good result and we have to get back to doing what we are good at. We want to have that enthusiasm and aggression that we had at the start of the season.”
“I think all teams go through spells like this. Derby County have in the Championship so we fall into that category. This weekend we will hopefully be in better shape and get back to what we do.”
View From The Opposition – Conor Townsend:
“If you press right and are aggressive in defence, you get the ball higher up the pitch and get more chances. We’ll aim to do the same on Saturday at Coventry.”
“They are a good team, we know that, but I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t go there and have a go. They’ll be looking to put right their defeat at Southend, which is something we’ve got to be wary of, but I don’t think there’s anything to be frightened about.”
“At whatever level you’re playing at, if you put the opposition under pressure you make it hard. It doesn’t matter how good a player you’re up against. You can get rewards from it and that’s something we’ll be looking to do again.”
I don’t believe it’s time to start getting panic-stricken just yet, but there is no doubting that we must start picking up points more frequently again. As the gap between us and the top two increases, we have to make sure we don’t fall out of contention for an automatic promotion place.
Our recent performances haven’t been awful by any means, bar the loss at Roots Hall where we were substantially below par. However, we need to become more potent going forward again as defences were freigtened to face us earlier in the season. Defensively, we have to wise up too and nip lapses of concentration in the bud.
In terms of this fixture, we have a perfect opportunity to bounce back and produce in front of our own supporters. Hopefully the atmosphere will remain upbeat after the disappointment lately, because with our backing, I believe that the players can haul us forward again.
The game versus Scunthorpe in the early stages of this season was frustrating. We weren’t at our best but I don’t think we deserved to lose. It always looked like a single goal would settle it and it’s a shame that it went their way. We have now got to use that as an extra incentive to seek revenge and claim all of the points on Saturday.
In my season preview I tipped Scunny for the play-offs as I thought the group of players they have would be strong enough to mount a charge. Despite them not fulfilling those expectations so far, we have to be wary of the quality they possess. The likes of Luke Williams, Jamie Ness and Paddy Madden certainly have the potential to cause problems.
Whether or not Adam Armstrong and Jacob Murphy feature could have huge ratifications on the result. At Southend we were without the pair for the first time and it was evident that we lacked creativity and speed in the forward areas. Even if one of those start the game, my confidence levels will increase. As a result, I’m taking a side of caution with my prediction for this one.
Coventry City 1-1 Scunthorpe United