Coventry City made it two wins in succession on Saturday as they defeated high-flying Rochdale at the Ricoh Arena. Despite a few nervy moments for the hosts, goals from Daniel Agyei and Andre Wright wrapped up a 2-0 victory for the Midlands outfit. Keith Hill’s men did enjoy the lion’s share of possession, but the lack of cutting edge in the final third meant the travelling supporters would be going home empty handed.
The Sky Blues went into the game in high spirits following a midweek triumph over Oxford United. Mark Venus named an unchanged eleven for the clash, and Andy Rose returned to the bench after a lengthy spell on the sidelines. He wasn’t needed, however, as his teammates worked hard to grind out a positive result in front of just over 8,000 supporters. Coventry now rise to 21st position whilst Dale drop to 9th.
In the opening five minutes of the match, neither side could stamp their authority on proceedings as a few wayward passes failed to find the feet of a player. Rochdale did fashion the first chance of the affair on seven minutes, however, but Lee Burge did well to claim a low volleyed Joe Bunney cross as Callum Camps lurked in the area. Just two minutes later, the away side were denied by a superb Jordan Willis block. The initial long ball evaded the defender, but he recovered well to divert Ian Henderson’s low strike away from goal.
With 11 minutes on the clock, City conceded a free kick on the edge of their own area. Camps then elected to take the set piece and it forced the home keeper into a diving save. The visitors looked the more efficient in every department at this point, keeping the ball well and outdoing Coventry in the physical duels. However, the hosts almost took the lead on 20 minutes as Daniel Agyei rattled the post. The Burnley loanee turned his marker brilliantly inside the box but he couldn’t quite find the corner of the net.
That chance seemed to increase the confidence amongst the Sky Blues and they began to endure a positive spell. Neat short passing was causing Keith Hill’s men some problems, but it was a long ball forward from Willis that led to the opener on 28 minutes. Ruben Lameiras latched onto the pass before driving into the area. He then shimmied his into a crossing position and his delivery gave Agyei the simple task of rolling the ball home at the far post.
Following the goal, the game slowed down somewhat for a brief period before both teams attempted to find the net before the break. Bunney sent another free kick towards Burge’s goal on 39 minutes but the Coventry keeper gathered comfortably. Agyei then almost put away his second goal of the afternoon with 42 minutes played after profiting from a clever Marvin Sordell pass – his strike searing inches wide, however. A surging run from Substitute Kyel Reid then opened up the Dale back line just seconds before half-time, but his strike was tame and Josh Lillis was left untroubled.
The one-goal deficit provided Rochdale with motivation to attack in the second half and they registered their first attempt on 47 minutes. Camps picked up the ball in a central area before taking aim from 30 yards, but Burge got down well to hold. Just six minutes afterwards, a Bunney corner caused havoc as Matty Lund headed towards goal. With the effort looping towards the top corner, Gael Bigirimana got across swiftly to clear off of the line.
Despite Rochdale having all of the ball, it was the Sky Blues who almost doubled their lead on the hour mark. Kyel Reid mustered up a sublime piece of skill to flick the ball over a defender’s head before drilling a strike inches over the bar from 20 yards. Up the other end, Lund had another opportunity to equalise on 64 minutes following a counter-attack, but his low drive from range careered harmlessly wide of the far post.
A rare attack from Coventry stretched the away defence on 71 minutes as Ruben Lameiras bypassed two players with a neat turn out wide. Ben Stevenson then saw a strike blocked after finding space in the area and Lameiras was denied by the outstretched leg of Niall Canavan who did well to read the situation. On the attack themselves, Rochdale then wasted a chance with 74 minutes played as Lund fired way wide of goal.
The result was put beyond all doubt on 83 minutes as the home supporters celebrated their side’s second goal of the afternoon. A fast-paced attack allowed Lewis Page to pick the ball up and the full-back played a pinpoint cross to Andre Wright. The substitute then pulled away from his marker to convert from inside the six-yard area. Rochdale desperately searched for a consolation late on, but City almost made it 3-0 in stoppage time via Jodi Jones. The final whistle was blown soon afterwards to signal a home victory.
It certainly wasn’t a vintage performance from the Sky Blues – but frankly – who cares? It’s another three points on the board and that’s now two wins on the bounce. We also keep our unbeaten run going on home soil so hopefully we can build on the positives. It was very much a ‘smash and grab’ victory but our defence has to be applauded as they marshalled an in-form Calvin Andrew out of the game relatively comfortably.
Jordan Willis and Jordan Turnbull were exceptional in the heart of defence bar a few nervy moments early on. The previously mentioned player has been superb of late and it’s great to see him making that position his own. After being incredibly unlucky last term through injury, this season was earmarked as the one where he would kick on. Going forward, although we didn’t create too many opportunities, we were certainly clinical in front of goal – something we’ve found difficult all season.
The pairing of Marvin Sordell and Daniel Agyei do cause opposition defences problems and they are now starting to find the net. Whilst they both received limited service on a day where Rochdale made things tough for us, but they worked hard and kept on plugging away. That’s all you can ask of your forwards in situations like that and I was impressed with their application. Andre Wright also proved difficult to handle once he was introduced and his goal was vital in assuring the points were earned.
It was a scrappy display and we will certainly have to be a lot better in future fixtures, but a sign of a good team is winning when you aren’t at your best. Granted, we aren’t a standout team in this division, but three wins from our last four league games proved we are better than the opening ten games suggested. With Walsall winning away from home versus Swindon Town, next week will provide us with a tough test. Our form on the road has to improve drastically and, with a bit of luck, that may happen.
Lee Burge – 6
Jamie Sterry – 7
Jordan Willis – 8
Jordan Turnbull – 8
Lewis Page – 7
Ben Stevenson – 6
Chris McCann – 6
Gael Bigirimana – 6
Ruben Lameiras – 7
Daniel Agyei – 7
Marvin Sordell – 7
Kyel Reid – 8
Andre Wright – 7
Jodi Jones – N/A
Coventry City: Burge, Sterry, Willis (C), Turnbull, Page, Stevenson, McCann (Reid 16), Bigirimana, Lameiras, Agyei (Wright 72), Sordell (Jones 90).
Unused Substitutes: Charles-Cook, Ricketts, Rose, Tudgay.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty (Mendez-Laing 58), Keane, Canavan, Bunney, Camps (Davies 66), Lund, Rathbone, Cannon, Henderson (C), Andrew (McDermott 78).
Unused Substitutes: Logan, McGahey, Morley, Odelusi.
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