Coventry City slipped closer to the relegation trapdoor as they fell 1-0 away to MK Dons in League One. In a spectacle lacking action, a powerful Stuart O’Keefe strike early in the second half separated two poor sides. The victory lifts Robbie Neilson’s men to 16th, six points above the bottom four. Coventry’s third successive defeat means they remain 17 points adrift of safety, however.
In the greasy conditions, City looked nervy early on and Lee Burge spilled a cross on 2 minutes before smothering the loose ball at the toes of a home striker. Fortunately, that wasn’t an omen of what was to come as we soon settled down and kept possession. It was MK who looked the more likely to open the scoring, however, but Nathan Clarke and Farrend Rawson put in a few strong challenges to deny them. The gap between our back line and the midfield was enormous at times and the home side were allowed to run at our defence too often, although at times Ben Stevenson dropped in to provide some form of cover.
One player who did struggle in the first period in particular was Callum Reilly. He has put in a few respectable performances, but his distribution has been below par recently. Misplaced passes from the Burton Albion loanee gifted MK possession on numerous occasions, but fortunately for him and the Sky Blues, they failed to pounce. The lack of quality in the final third of both teams was clear to see. Whilst the hosts created more, they were wasteful, but Coventry fashioned no real chances.
It looked as if we were attempting to play some expansive football at times, but our play was laboured and easy to cope with. Marcus Tudgay offered nothing, George Thomas struggled to influence proceedings and Ruben Lameiras was abysmal. His attempt of a clearance that led to O’Keefe’s goal was comical. The Portuguese midfielder certainly had a day to forget – absolutely nothing came off for him.
The only forward player to stand out was Jodi Jones, a man whose appearances have been limited in the league this season. On his day he can clearly cause opposing teams problems and it was interesting to see him starting. His pace and willingness to run at defenders didn’t always lead to anything, but that positivity is something we have been missing all season. Myself and many others have often picked up on the fact he is very one-footed, but he seemed to put in a few tempting crosses from his weaker side – we just had nobody to meet them in the middle.
Coventry enjoyed a bright spell with around 15 minutes to go and he and substitute Ryan Haynes were instrumental to that. The young defender replaced Chris Stokes, a player who had a difficult afternoon, and he added some inventiveness on the break. To the travelling supporters’ surprise, the Sky Blues registered a few attempts on goal during that period and it was greeted by ironic cheers. We resorted to comedic chants to alleviate some of the pain once again.
Despite expecting to lose, the fact we limped to another defeat against a MK Dons side who looked equally as incompetent as us is frustrating. It highlights how fundamentally shocking we are as a team. We still haven’t scored a goal under Mark Robins and that is due to no fault of his – we just don’t have the personnel to muster up a win. Our fate will be officially sealed soon and I can’t wait for the summer, purely so we can attempt to build an entire new squad in preparation for the fourth tier.
Lee Burge – 6
Jordan Willis – 5
Farrend Rawson – 6
Nathan Clarke – 6
Chris Stokes – 5
Ben Stevenson – 5
Callum Reilly – 4
George Thomas – 4
Ruben Lameiras – 2
Jodi Jones – 6
Marcus Tudgay – 3
Charles Vernam – 4
Dion Kelly-Evans – 5
Ryan Haynes – 6
MK Dons: Martin, Baldock (Downing 83), Lewington (C), Walsh, Upson, Reeves, O’Keefe, Williams, Agard (Ngombo 70), Muirhead (Potter 77), Barnes.
Unused Substitutes: Nicholls,, Bowditch, Brittain, Tilney.
Coventry City: Burge, Willis (C) (Di. Kelly-Evans 61), Rawson, Clarke, Stokes (Haynes 73), Stevenson, Reilly, G. Thomas, Lameiras, Jones, Tudgay (Vernam 43).
Unused Substitutes: Charles-Cook, Turnbull, Bigirimana, Reid.
Attendance: 9,060 (908 away)