Mark Robins took charge of his first game back as Coventry City manager on Saturday afternoon, but it was Bradford City who left the Ricoh Arena with all three points. Despite a spirited display from the Sky Blues, goals from Alex Jones and Jordy Hiwula condemned the home side to another defeat in SkyBet League One. Stuart McCall’s men now sit just two points below the automatic promotion spots whilst Coventry remain rooted to the bottom.
With the Bantams boasting the least amount of losses in the entire Football League, they were always going to be difficult to handle. However, we did combat their threat expertly during the first period. It was a welcome surprise to see Chris Stokes make a return at left-back and he coped with the pace of Mark Marshall well. On the one occasion that he was outdone, the former City winger played a pinpoint cross to Charlie Wyke who struck the post, but you wouldn’t have thought Stokes had been out for a lengthy period.
As a unit, our defence kept Bradford at bay and Lee Burge was a spectator for the majority of the first 45 minutes. Dion Kelly-Evans did replace the injured Kevin Foley with half an hour on the clock and Bradford attempted to pray on his lack of physicality. But, once again, the young full-back looked tenacious and determined in his work. Going forward he offered a threat too – he really is beginning to look the part.
However, the second half was quite a contrast. Whilst we still kept the ball well at times as we looked to make inroads, lapses in concentration at the back cost us. Set pieces have been City’s Achilles’ heel for numerous years and once we allowed Bradford to get themselves in front via a corner, they were in the ascendancy. They have struggled to see out games this season, but they registered a second by carving open Robins’ newly inherited back four far too easily and that signalled game over.
The fact we conceded two avoidable goals in quick succession highlights our mental frailties. We had transformed from a side who looked capable in the first half to an abject one in a matter of minutes. It’s highly frustrating to watch your side match very good opposition for 45 minutes and then throw away all of the hard work they had put in up to that point. After going two down we saw a bit more of the ball, but it was all in front of the Bantams’ back line. Credit to the away side, they came to the Ricoh and put in a professional performance to take the three points.
As far as results go for Coventry, they are somewhat irrelevant to me now. I didn’t go to the game expecting us to pick up anything. Instead, I was curious to see if we showed any signs of improvement under Robins and it felt as if we were better. Of course, those who weren’t in attendance will question how another loss validates my opinion, but it was much easier to watch than what Russell Slade served up.
We will be playing League Two football next season and we all know that, but we are far better positioned with Robins holding the reigns. Some seem to be setting the level of expectation a little high on the basis of his last spell here, but I’m under no illusions. Progression will always be unlikely under our current ownership model, and he has a tough task of building a squad to compete next term.
This season has been a complete disaster – all we can do now is hope that Robins performs in what seems to be an almost impossible job. Supporting this club is heartbreaking and I am just praying next season gives us something to cling on to, albeit in the fourth tier.
Lee Burge – 6
Kevin Foley – 6
Nathan Clarke – 6
Jordan Turnbull – 6
Chris Stokes – 7
Ben Stevenson – 7
Callum Reilly – 5
George Thomas – 6
Charles Vernam – 6
Kwame Thomas – 5
Stuart Beavon – 5
Dion Kelly-Evans – 7
Jodi Jones – 5
Farrend Rawson – 6
Coventry City: Burge, Foley (Di. Kelly-Evans 30), Clarke (C), Turnbull, Stokes (Rawson 67), Stevenson, Reilly, G. Thomas, Vernam(Jones 58), K. Thomas, Beavon.
Unused Substitutes: Charles-Cook, Bigirimana, Reid, Tudgay.
Bradford City: Doyle, Meredith, Vincelot (C), Marshall, Wyke, Hiwula, Cullen, Gilliead (Jones 34) (Clarke 63), Knight-Percival, McArdle, McMahon.
Unused Substitutes: Sattlemaier, Darby, Toner, Dieng, Devine.
Attendance: 9,150 (1,329 away)