The Sky Blues defeated Wigan Athletic at the Ricoh Arena on the opening day of the season, but since that result, fortunes have varied for both teams. Coventry have collapsed and fell out of contention in terms of securing a play-off position, whereas The Latics are flying high at the summit of the division. It was expected that City would be on the back foot throughout and the pre-match predictions proved to come to fruition.
Gary Caldwell’s men are in extremely confident mood and that was illustrated in their sheer dominance of the football. Wave after wave of Wigan attacks kept the away defence on their toes and despite a resolute attempt to shut the league’s top scorers out, Will Grigg netted the decisive goal on 57 minutes. It is now five games without victory for Coventry and their downward spiral continues to the supporters’ frustration as they slip into the bottom half.
Wigan Athletic got the ball rolling and they looked to keep possession early on. With around 1,200 Coventry fans making the trip to the DW Stadium, they were hoping that their side could put in a good performance against the league leaders. It was the visitors who created the first opening on 4 minutes as a perfectly weighted Gael Bigirimana pass found Romain Vincelot. The French midfielder then struck a sweet volley that crept just wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s far post.
As the home supporters tried to create an imposing atmosphere, their side began to look a real threat going forward. Despite a few ventures into the Coventry box, it was Tony Mowbray’s men who had another half chance on 7 minutes as Adam Armstrong saw a low effort smothered following a mazy Jodi Jones run. City were then forced to revert into a more defensive position soon after as the hosts controlled possession. Conor McAleny and Yanic Wildshut looked to hurt The Sky Blues down the wings and it was clear to see that Sam Ricketts and Aaron Phillips were in for a tough time.
Donervon Daniels used his speed and power to good effect on 17 minutes as he marauded down the right wing. His low cross was then well defended by Stephens and Coventry countered through Jones’ pace. The 18-year old winger twisted and turned his way into the area before seeing a low stab towards goal deflected into the side netting via a defender’s boot.
The Sky Blues then went close to opening the scoring once more on 23 minutes after Jack Stephens recycled possession following an Adam Armstrong corner. The defender found John Fleck just outside the area and the Scottish midfielder forced Jaaskelainen into a low save with a powerful drive. Jones was the next to test the Finnish goalkeeper as he capitalised on some poor defending with 30 minutes played, but his effort was tame.
A few chances came in quick succession for both sides soon after and Leon Barnett headed the first wide from a McAleny cross on 36 minutes. Marcus Tudgay then fired an effort wide from 18 yards just a minute later after Armstrong teed him up. Wigan dominated the latter stages of the first half, but they couldn’t break the deadlock as their final chance came on 39 minutes. Patient build-up saw McAleny receive the ball in an advanced position and his deflected drive was well saved by Reice Charles-Cook.
Coventry came out quickly in the second half and Jones saw a ferocious effort blocked almost immediately after the restart. However, after the away side enjoyed a brief bout of possession, Wigan soon regained their foothold. As they continually surged towards the away goal, they looked increasingly likely to score and they did just that on 57 minutes. Stephen Warnock’s low cross was cleverly left to run by Max Power and Will Grigg was on hand to emphatically plant the ball into the roof of the net.
After conceding, The Sky Blues looked for an immediate response as Jones saw an effort well held by the keeper. A dubious penalty was then awarded to the hosts with 66 minutes on the clock as John Fleck felled McAleny in the area. Grigg stepped up to take the spot kick but he was denied a brace as Charles-Cook sprung down to his left to tip wide.
Any faint hope that Coventry’s fans were given following the save was short lived as the one-way traffic continued in favour of The Latics. Warnock flashed in another dangerous delivery on 74 minutes but it was dealt with by the away back four. A rare City attack then went to waste just 3 minutes later as Marc-Antione Fortune blazed an effort wide after a sublime first touch created space for the former Wigan man.
The final moments of the encounter then saw neither side fashion any clear-cut openings. Wigan did have a couple of hopeful shots blocked but Coventry didn’t test the home defence and Gary Caldwell’s men were handed victory upon the referee’s final whistle. The Latics are now a remarkable 20 games unbeaten and they look on course to lift the League One trophy come May.
We can’t argue with that result, that is for certain. The home side were completely dominant throughout the match and a 1-0 scoreline in favour of Wigan probably flatters us a little. Despite them bombarding us with countless attacks, I do think that our central defenders performed admirably, however. We struggled to match them in the wide areas but Aaron Martin and Jack Stephens were solid in the centre of defence, putting in countless blocks and clearances.
Credit has to go to Wigan though, they certainly asked us a host of probing questions. They were undoubtedly stronger than us in every department, but I think the game was won in midfield. David Perkins ran the show from a deep-lying role alongside the impressive pairing of Max Power and Sam Morsy. Don’t get me wrong, John Fleck and Romain Vincelot are talented footballers, but they were chasing shadows against a very classy outfit.
Wigan looked very stable defensively also, and City struggled to test Jussi Jaaskelainen. Going forward we were devoid of ideas again as Adam Armstrong was deployed on the wing whilst Marcus Tudgay proved to be ineffective. I struggled to work out where the latter was meant to be playing and I’m sure he was unsure himself. Dropping deep to receive the ball is expected when your side is under the cosh, but this meant that every time City cleared the ball it found a Wigan defender who would then orchestrate a fresh attack.
Apart from a few Jodi Jones half chances, we never looked like finding the net. It’s a sad affair for supporters at the moment with the team’s demise in the second half of the season. The inquest into our poor performances continues, but we still turn up in number on the road. Massive credit needs to be handed to the 1200 that backed their side despite feeling downbeat. It’s the hope that keeps us going, and fingers crossed we will get a belated reward next season.
We now go into another tough fixture versus Millwall next weekend with another loss under our belt, but hopefully we can pick up something. I and everyone else just wants to see effort from the players from now until the end of the campaign, and to finish with a bit of fight would be nice. Good luck to Wigan in their title ambitions, they should win it judging by their display against us.
Reice Charles-Cook – 7
Sam Ricketts – 5
Jack Stephens – 7
Aaron Martin – 8
Aaron Phillips – 5
John Fleck – 6
Romain Vincelot – 6
Gael Bigirimana – 6
Jodi Jones – 7
Marcus Tudgay – 6
Adam Armstrong – 6
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Ricketts (C), Stephens, Martin, Phillips, Fleck, Bigirimana (Cole 52’), Vincelot (Murphy 60’), Armstrong, Jones, Tudgay (Fortune 60’).
Unused Substitutes: Addai, Lorentzson, Gadzhev, Lameiras.
Wigan Athletic: Jaaskelainen, Perkins, Daniels, Power, Morsy, Grigg Vuckic 88’), Warnock, McAleny (Wabara 71’), Barnett, Pearce (C), Wildschut (Jacobs 78’).
Unused Substitutes: Nicholls, McCann, Davies, Colclough.
Attendance: 10,415 (1,203 City)