Coventry City 1-0 Cardiff City
The first clash of the CCFC's this season ended with a strong Coventry performance and a strong Dabo tackle.
Coming into the game, Coventry knew that Cardiff would be a threat from set pieces, given their top scorer is Aden Flint, from CB. Early on, Coventry dealt very well with the long throws from Vaulks and the corners coming in. Almost every throw was from the left-back position. Note this image and only 4 Cardiff players in the box attacking the corner, with just minutes to go in the half.
To the goal. The Coventry back 3 won 23 aerial challenges between them. Here, Cardiff had 6 in the area expecting the long ball, but with no real attempts on goal to show for the opportunities, which is why Vaulks likely played short with Colwill here.
From a situation that Cardiff are accomplished at (set pieces) to 4 seconds later being countered is a testament to the Coventry game plan. Perhaps purposefully, O'Hare is ahead of the ball. O'Hare is unlikely to win long balls, so Allen drives with the ball. If you follow the tweets from @SBETactical you would have seen this video and from where 'Big Vic' starts his attack.
Highlighted above is Coventry's counter-attack, and of course the goal. There were at least two other identical moments of breakaways that Coventry squandered. This 'new school' brave football is punishing traditional rough and tumble Championship football.
Gyokeres has become such a problem for opponents that it gives Coventry space to play more and get O'Hare and Allen on the ball in key spaces. Waghorn is also experienced in connecting the lines of play and Coventry had multiple moments for breaking through the Cardiff line. Building up was a constant issue against experienced teams last season, yet this season Coventry have clearly addressed this with shape. O'Hare beats Vaulks to the ball and connects with Dabo. It seems simple, but the space between the pass is essential for bringing Coventry out and preventing Cardiff from pressing hard. Gyokeres and Waghorn stretch the field with Dabo and Maatsen high up to support the attack.
Cardiff were dispossessed 8 times in the game. Here Coventry had lost the ball after failing to play through Cardiff, S.Moore kicked it long and Cardiff won the second ball. Coventry did not drop off, but instead used the backward pass from the second ball to set a press. Here Dabo comes in after Waghorn forces Bagan into the channel. Coventry manage to waste this chance away, but the intensity from this side in this game pushed Cardiff into those constant mistakes. So, by that token, perhaps Boro were not bad, they were just rattled by Coventry as Cardiff were - that's two 'big' and 'physical' typical Championship opponents that Coventry have affected now.
Cardiff adjusted their shape several times in the game, after McCarthy hooked Colwill at half-time, Perry Ng pushed into the RW position, but the wide threat from early on ceased. The threat just lacked the bite. Moore is the constant target, but his outlet lacks the support to hurt Coventry and because he is the focal point, Coventry can organize effectively. Here you can see a cross into the box from Vaulks with the Coventry 5 deep and ready for it. The second ball drops outside the box to Pack and his header bounces harmlessly behind for a goal kick.
Early on the threat was higher from Cardiff as the game was warming. Another long ball into the box bounced and Moore punches the ball off of the other Moore's head and away.
Cardiff had one shot on target. The threat was always coming from long balls or from set pieces and Coventry dealt with them well, for the most part.
City had multiple chances in this game. With a home xG of 1.74, Coventry are underperforming in conversions. With 11 shots in this game and just 4 on target, there will be games in which Coventry face an opponent who can snatch games away. Think back to the Sheffield Wednesday game last season and losing 1-0. Now I am just being picky...
Stats from whoscored.com