After picking up a 1-1 draw away at Millwall last weekend, Coventry City went into Saturday’s showdown with Oldham Athletic looking to build on the positives. Without a league win from their opening seven SkyBet League One fixtures, Tony Mowbray’s men were hoping to correct that by sealing a home victory. The Latics, meanwhile, were eager to claim their second triumph of the season to add to their tally of 7 points accrued.
Throughout the 90 minutes of football, a lack of quality in the final third cost the two sides and the game ended goalless. Chances fell by the wayside on numerous occasions and Oldham came the closest in the second period as Lee Erwin struck the bar. Marcus Tudgay had a couple of opportunities for the Sky Blues but it proved to be yet another frustrating afternoon for the home supporters. The stalemate leaves Coventry bottom of the pile in the third division whilst Oldham move into 19th place.
On a fairly chilly afternoon at the Ricoh Arena, the Sky Blues supporters were looking for a performance to warm their spirits. However, it was Oldham who looked to attack with just 2 minutes on the clock but Jamie Sterry did well to get in front of an attacker to turn a Charles Dunne cross behind for a corner. The hosts soon settled afterwards and they had two chances in quick succession on 8 minutes, the first from Gael Bigirimana being held by Connor Ripley before Jodi Jones blazed over from range after skipping inside.
A topsy-turvy battle for possession then ensued in the centre of the park but it was the visitors who carved out the next opportunity on 13 minutes. The ball was worked out to Freddie Ladapo on the left wing and he forced Reice Charles-Cook into a flying save after driving into the area. Just 2 minutes later it was City who were on the attack and an incisive Jones pass found Bigirimana in a dangerous position. The Burundi-born midfielder then pulled it back to Marvin Sordell but he failed to hit the target with a melee of bodies in front of him.
Those openings seemed to fill the Midlands outfit with encouragement and they began to dictate the tempo of proceedings. Jones had an optimistic penalty appeal waved away on 18 minutes before curling a strike a yard wide just a few minutes later. Despite the hosts acquiring more control, the Latics won a corner after 26 minutes and Marc Klok skewed an effort over the bar after the ball dropped invitingly into his path.
In the final quarter of an hour in the opening period, the game fell a bit flat and entertainment was limited. Another Oldham corner caused problems with 35 minutes on the clock but it was Paul Green who this time wasted an opportunity. With possession of the ball changing hands on numerous occasions due to sloppiness, it looked as if neither side would find the breakthrough. On the stroke of half-time, Coventry were handed the best chance of the half as Kyel Reid found Marcus Tudgay with a pinpoint cross but the striker miscued his header.
Following the restart, it was the away side who looked more determined as they pressed Coventry high to force errors. Steve Robinson’s men created the first chance as a result as Green’s flick into Klok’s path stretched the home defence on 48 minutes. The Bulgarian then elected to let fly from range and it took an acrobatic Charles-Cook save to thwart him. In the build-up to the strike, Jamie Sterry was involved in a hefty collision and the City right-back had to be stretchered off.
Following the lengthy stoppage in play, both teams struggled to regain any rhythm but Oldham went mightily close to taking the lead on 57 minutes. Lee Erwin received the ball in a promising position and his fierce drive towards goal cannoned off of the crossbar to the relief of the home supporters. On the hour mark, Coventry substitute Ruben Lameiras gifted Ollie Banks a chance after some lackadaisical defending but Charles-Cook got down well to make a save to spare his blushes.
Despite the frustration of City’s fans echoing around the stands of the stadium, they were almost celebrating on 67 minutes as their side created their first real opening of the half. Controlled play eventually found Sordell in a crowded area and the forward manoeuvred some space expertly before seeing a low drive blocked well. Up the other end, Oldham substitute Darius Osei was causing havoc with his physicality and his lay off allowed Green to call Charles-Cook into action once more.
In the final 10 minutes of the affair, it was the hosts who searched for a winner more intensely and brilliant work from Sordell almost led to a goal on 80 minutes. His fizzed low cross flashed across the face and Tudgay was inches away from making contact. A carbon copy of that chance was then made 7 minutes later but Tudgay prodded wide this time with Ripley racing off of his goal line. Oldham then withstood a late Coventry surge to deny the Sky Blues their first full set of points of the 2016/17 campaign.
Although people keep telling us to remain upbeat and positive, it’s incredibly difficult to do that when your team sit bottom of the third tier with 5 points from a possible 24. Individually I believe we have some very good footballers, but as a collective group we just aren’t good enough. I’ve said it before but we don’t have enough players who know how to win football matches. The main problem, however, is clearly the lack of a potent goal scorer.
It’s just becoming increasingly infuriating watching the Sky Blues and something clearly has to change. The confusion around the system being played is rife amongst fans and pressure is now building on the team and the manager. The atmosphere around the club at the current moment is a complete contrast to how it was this time last season and it’s painful to see. We are now rooted to the foot of the League One table and the mood is toxic.
Certain aspects of our game are promising and the way in which we dominated possession was assured, but we rarely look like troubling the opposition goalkeeper. Of our 19 attempts today, only 2 of them hit the target – that sums the entire situation up perfectly. Defensively we have looked largely strong throughout our first handful of fixtures, but we are still failing to pick up points on a regular basis. If we had an Adam Armstrong in this team I’m sure we’d be in a completely different position, but we don’t.
Despite there being 38 games to go, unless we can muster up some magic then I really fear that we will be in for a difficult season. We already have a lot of ground to make up and I just can’t see where a win is going to come from. At home against teams like Oldham, you should be walking away with all of the spoils, particularly when you enjoy around 60 per cent of the ball. Although we kept a clean sheet, Reice Charles-Cook was a fairly busy man and he kept us in it at times with a number of fine saves.
I’m just running out of things to say at the moment in all honesty. A similar pattern occurs every single week and it’s all rather predictable at the moment. We now face a trip to Gillingham next weekend and that will be another stern test for our young squad. It is now becoming a necessity that we get the monkey off of our back so to speak by earning a victory. This vicious cycle is unbearable and we have to break free from the shackles. The nucleus of our side is better than results suggest, but they need to start proving that rather hastily. Mowbray still doesn’t know his best eleven which is alarming.
Reice Charles-Cook – 8
Lewis Page – 6
Jordan Turnbull – 6
Jordan Willis – 6
Jamie Sterry – 6
Vladimir Gadzhev – 5
Gael Bigirimana – 7
Jodi Jones – 6
Marcus Tudgay – 5
Kyel Reid – 6
Marvin Sordell – 6
Ruben Lameiras – 4
Dion Kelly-Evans – 5
Ben Stevenson – 6
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Page, Turnbull, Willis (C), Sterry (Di. Kelly-Evans 53), Gadzhev (Lameiras 45), Bigirimana, Jones, Tudgay, Reid (Stevenson 63), Sordell.
Unused Substitutes: Burge, Ricketts, Agyei, Wright.
Oldham Athletic: Ripley, Law (Croft 45), Wilson, Clarke (C), Burgess, Dunne, Green, Banks, Klok (Flynn 81), Ladapo (Osei 67), Erwin.
Unused Substitutes: Kettings, Dummigan, McLaughlin, McKay.