With the international break meaning there would be no Premier League or Championship action at the weekend, the focus was on the lower leagues of English football. As for the Sky Blues, a trip to Fleetwood Town was in order on Saturday and Tony Mowbray’s men would be looking to secure their first league win of the campaign. The hosts, meanwhile, were searching for another victory as they make an early charge towards the play-off positions in League One.
A first half devoid of any real quality didn’t provide the spectators with much entertainment, neither side really looking like taking control of proceedings. It was Coventry who then began the second period with more threat, but their failure to adequately test the opposition goalkeeper proved very costly. Keeping the Sky Blues at bay gave Fleetwood the platform to attack themselves and goals from Chris Long and Martyn Woolford sealed the contest for the Cod Army.
With the rain pouring down on an already slick surface, the game got off to a scrappy start as the two sides jostled for possession. It was the hosts, however, who looked the more threatening and after just 6 minutes Chris Long saw a goal bound effort blocked by Jordan Turnbull after pivoting smartly inside the area. With their next move, Fleetwood opened up another opportunity as Eggert Jonnson played a sweeping pass out to Devante Cole. The pacey striker then charged towards goal but he could only find Reice Charles-Cook’s gloves from a tight angle.
Soon afterwards, the Sky Blues looked to stamp their authority by keeping hold of the ball. Patient build-up then led to City’s first opportunity of the affair on 13 minutes as Chris McCann shaped a distant strike wide following direct play from Daniel Agyei. Just 5 minutes later, it was the Cod Army who broke forward once more and they were a goal line clearance away from taking the lead. A long ball started the danger as Charles-Cook raced out of his goal to head clear, but it landed at Nathan Ball’s feet. The attacking midfielder then propelled an audacious lob towards goal, only for Jamie Sterry to head the ball away from danger.
With 21 minutes on the clock, the home outfit looked to make a period of dominance count as they applied the pressure on the Coventry back line. Chris Long received the ball rather fortuitously in the box before seeing a low drive turned away by a combination of Charles-Cook and Turnbull. An optimistic penalty appeal from Marvin Sordell was then waved away on 30 minutes before Fleetwood countered with speed. The ball then found Cole but he could only send a drive wide after manouvering into a pocket of unoccupied space.
During the final quarter of an hour in the opening period, it was the Sky Blues who went closest to breaking the deadlock despite the scrappy nature of the game. Near interchange between Lewis Page and Sordell allowed the latter to get a shot away on 34 minutes, but Neal was alert to make a save. A few seconds into stoppage time, City were left scratching their heads as a golden opportunity was spurned. Agyei was the man left disappointed after Sordell slotted a pass into his feet, the imposing striker denied by a magnificent save.
With neither set of players being rewarded with a goal during the first 45 minutes, it was the visitors who looked to attack immediately after the restart. Patient passing stretched the Fleetwood back line and debutant Jamie Sterry called Neal into a flying save with a low strike towards the far post. On 51 minutes it was Coventry who worked their way forward again, but Agyei could only find the clutches of the goalkeeper after a smart piece of footwork saw him evade his marker.
A swift move forward then got the home supporters off of their feet just seconds later, but Cole failed to capitalise as he sent a ferocious effort out of the stadium. The period of end to end football continued as Gael Bigirimana teed up Agyei on 55 minutes, but Neal competently got his body behind the ball to fist it away from goal. Another Coventry move then broke down just 3 minutes later and the Rosler’s men made great use of possession to take the lead. Substitute Kyle Dempsey orchestrated the charge before finding Chris Long who placed a composed finish into the corner.
Following the first goal of the game, Fleetwood dictated the tempo by playing the ball around, frustrating the travelling contingent of fans in the process. A few negative comments began to be hurled towards the Coventry players and it was evident that they were dejected out on the pitch. When in possession, the Sky Blues consistently failed to fashion any meaningful openings and the Cod Army looked as if they would cruise to victory.
The result was then put beyond any doubt on 72 minutes as Fleetwood put away their second goal of the afternoon. Weak play from Sordell in his own half gifted the ball to David Ball and the midfielder then played a pinpoint pass into Martyn Woolford. The substitute then controlled expertly before fizzing a powerful effort through the hands of Charles-Cook. In the latter exchanges, it was City who saw more of the ball, but the hosts dealt with any danger confidently. A few half chances came and went for both teams before the full-time whistle was sounded by referee Mark Haywood.
The more games we play, the more my worries increase. Again, we’ve failed to test the opposition goalkeeper enough and we have conceded a couple of easily preventable goals. At times, it really was dreadful and we never looked like having a positive impact on the tie. Bar a brief spell of pressure in the second half, we failed to look at all threatening. It’s all well and good playing pretty, attractive football, but it’s essentially pointless when you have no cutting edge up top.
Marvin Sordell and Daniel Agyei struggled all game and they were left isolated in the final third, starved of any kind of service for long periods. Although Gael Bigirimana was the one shining light in that City team, he struggled to provide the incisive balls through to the attackers at times. We are seriously lacking creativity within the team, which makes me wonder why Kyel Reid wasn’t introduced at some stage. Instead, like for like changes were made and they failed to alter the game at all.
Defensively, as we have in most of our fixtures thus far, we looked relatively comfortable throughout. However, after the ball was turned over in the build-up to Fleetwood’s opener, we failed to react and it was far too easy for Kyle Dempsey to patrol forward. Cian Harries was then bypassed simply and it made the finish a formality. Whether it’s down to inexperience or the lack of protection that the current formation provides, you can’t concede goals that simply. The second one came from Sordell being bundled off of the ball once more, but Reice Charles-Cook has to take the blame for some poor goalkeeping.
In terms of technical ability, our players are quite capable, but I keep questioning their mentality. Having a plethora of youngsters is acceptable if they are complimented by more knowledgeable heads who have been there and done it, but we haven’t got many of those characters. Jordan Willis is a superb defender, but when he is seen as one of the more experienced lads at the tender age of 22, you can see our issues. Physically and tactically we are very naive, meaning teams can comfortably beat us.
Tony Mowbray has to take a portion of the blame, and although I have faith in him, it is the squad he has constructed after all. I appreciate he has limited funds to work with, but today proves that can’t be used as an excuse. Fleetwood’s budget is also incredibly meagre, but they have experienced League One players such as Nathan Pond and Jimmy Ryan within the ranks. They know what it takes to win games and they have shown that so far this term. We, on the other hand, need to improve drastically. It now becomes a necessity that we pick up three points as soon as possible, otherwise confidence will continue to drop. That’s a serious issue in such a young team.
How I long for Coventry City to be owned by people who care and are capable of running a club. It’s soul destroying for us fans.
Reice Charles-Cook – 5
Jordan Turnbull – 6
Cian Harries – 5
Jordan Willis – 6
Lewis Page – 6
Gael Bigirimana – 7
Chris McCann – 5
Vladimir Gadzhev – 5
Jamie Sterry – 6
Marvin Sordell – 4
Daniel Agyei – 6
Marcus Tudgay – 5
Ben Stevenson – 5
Andre Wright – 5
Fleetwood Town: Neal, Duckworth, Bell, Eastham, Pond (C), Ryan, Jonsson (Dempsey 45), B. Grant, Ball, Cole (Woolford 69), Long (Hunter 79).
Unused Substitutes: Cairns, Bolger, Wallace, Nirennold.
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Turnbull, Harries, Willis (C), Page, Bigirimana, McCann (Tudgay 37), Gadzhev (Stevenson 67), Sterry, Sordell, Agyei (Wright 73).
Unused Substitutes: Burge, Ricketts, Lameiras, Reid.