Whatever we do, don't go down to 10-men after 14 minutes and we should be able to compete with, and beat, Blackburn.
This mentality likely empowered such a bright opening for Coventry with a couple of chances and promising forward play. The wingback of McCallum was the main threat. Just 17 seconds in and McCallum is high and behind Elliot in the channel. The resulting cross flashes off of the bar. A second one minutes later hits the side net. The strength in formation versus a back four on full display.
As Coventry then nullified any Blackburn attack, the result was winning possession deeper and abandoning any attempt to play out. A lay off from James allows Kelly to send it long looking for the strikers. Note the other outlet, McCallum is so deep from defending that he can't get forward. Coventry turned the ball over 26 times total in this game.
Blackburn began to get into the game as they condensed the field. You can see Ostigard on the ball being forced inside and into the Blackburn midfield three. The resulting pass was picked off and a reminder of the fragile back-line being exposed in poor possession moments. This adjustment for Blackburn meant Coventry could only play predictably wide or long.
The final spur of Coventry's momentum in this first half came from the opportunistic hunting of Biamou. Braithwaite is under pressure and eventually fouls Biamou for a Coventry freekick in a promising position. Note the lack of support under the ball.
The same impression here, as Biamou sheilds the ball later in the game, but with no support. A trend for any of Coventry's strikers this season.
A trend for Coventry has been to defend in a 5-3. Mowbray mentioned a lot of teams have done this to them, and given the threat of players like Armstrong and Elliot, it would make sense. However, you can see the image on the left from the game today at 1-0, and also from the Swansea game. The same organization for Coventry.
It is frustrating to see the team sat so deep and being so concerned with being so deep. However, do you adapt to contain your opponent, or throw caution and go for your own style. Coventry did the latter earlier in the season and it didn't go so well. Yet, this approach is not a guarantee for success.
The issue with dropping so deep so quickly is that you concede possession, or at least ask your overloaded midfielders to run themselves in the ground trying to prevent any forward play. The issue is that Blackburn switched the ball very well in this game, dragging the Coventry midfield all over the field.
Elliot was key in several instances during this game. Here you see him pushing high. His positioning occupies both McCallum and Hyam, leaving Nyambe all sorts of space to receive the switch. Nyambe, at right back, took 80 touches in this game, second behind Douglas at left back. That should tell you how Blackburn like to build, especially against a team that will drop deeper.
Then, you can see how Elliot drops deeper to receive the ball. McCallum has to step as the wingback, but you can always see Dabo (#23) has dropped in line. Again, Coventry so deep, leaving space on the weak side open and space for Blackburn to switch the ball.
Fast forward a minute, and Blackburn are switching possession to expose the channel behind a narrow and deep McCallum. The switch pays off because Nyambe receives the ball and with excellent speed can burst behind McCallum. The same position created the opening for the goal, even after a warning just moments before.
The third impact that Elliot has, is to occupy additional defenders, even after Coventry seem to have figured out how to deal with him. McCallum seemed to have gotten to grips with attacking Blackburn shape and Nyambe sitting wider. It meant Hyam was pulled into the ball, but this highlights how ineffective Blackburn were in the game. Elliot receives the ball, leaving an excellent opporutnity to exploit, or to even switch and overload, yet the ball was recycled slowly and Coventry recovered.
The Coventry goal was a benefit of the shape and another fast start. Shipley peeled out to win the ball and McCallum makes the run ahead of him. Too often I don't think the strength of 3-5-2 is used, and here it was. McCallum was able to get into a dangerous space and the knockdown from Walker was put away by Matty James.
Unfortunately, it then felt like the game kind of fell apart.
The second half was not pretty. Coventry got the goal and the game stuttered from there on out. It was scrappy. The ball was turned over 32 times between the two teams in the second half alone.
Coventry, perhaps learning from earlier lessons are refusing to make the mistakes that cost goals and chosing instead to play opportunisitic football higher up the field and looking for knockdowns. Blackburn, with all the possession (75% in the second half) couldn't create anything solid, even after the Ostigard sending off. He walked on 82, and it took to the 89th minute for Armstrong to get a glimpse on goal.
As a final example of the game. Rothwell broke the central press against Kelly and was able to dribble through the middle. Yet, his look to layoff and keep going was poorly executed and a Blackburn 3v1 turns into a counter attack for Coventry.
Not to ignore the goal, but the organization of Coventry worked. Blackburn were very limited in their attack with only 6 total shots, and Armstrong only getting two shots off. One of which came in the 89th minute and was the only attempt on goal after Ostigard was dismissed on 82.
For Ostigard, he could have perhaps gone earlier for the second foul. Robins said its not a second yellow, but he also said we were the dominant team last time out versus Swansea. He is a manager and says what he needs to, but I think you could agree it was coming after Ostigard felt he was stamped on for his first yellow.
In the big picture, and especially after the last game versus Blackburn, Coventry should be happy with a point. However, 25 minutes of positive play was rewarded with nothing. As soon as Blackburn had their swing in momentum, they scored. That has been lacking for Coventry this season and continues to hurt.