The Sky Blues' unbeaten record at the CBS Arena has gone, but the problems are bigger. Coventry, with one win in five, were made to look like a mid-table team against a very clever Swansea team.
It almost looked like a Luton repeat after conceding two in 12 minutes, putting any game plan out of the window. Though Coventry fought back on 27 minutes, they failed to really threaten from thereon due to a predictable and impatient attack.
In the opening exchanges, Coventry pressed with 5. However, Swansea were fluid in possession Note how they set up with three in the back (Bennett, Naughton, and Manning) but Smith would often drop between the backline, freeing up one of the wide center backs to carry the ball forward.
Manning helped to create the first goal with this exact movement. The ball is switched and he dribbles at Dabo. The moment Dabo steps, the ball is wide into Bidwell and the cross in finds Paterson to make it 1-0.
Last time out versus Hull, I commented on the lack of quality from set-pieces. It's exciting when Hamer whips it at the goal, but it's often wasted. It's even worse when it leads to a goal against. Just after Hamer's corner, the ball deflects to him to cross again. Yet, Coventry are all over the place. With 9 Swansea players within 50 yards, any failed control is likely to fall in their favor.
The resulting clearance finds Ntcham who carries the ball, and much like the first goal, baits the wing-back in before laying the ball in behind. Laird, who was exceptional in this game with notable pace and aggression with the ball at his feet, runs beyond JCS with the ball and cuts inside. Had Piroe not scored it would have likely been a penalty and 2-0 either way.
Coventry were under immense pressure. An unbeaten home record on the line. An attendance of 16,514, and 2-0 down.
One of the first real chances that fell to Coventry, and eventually dictated the way the game was played, was in the 20th minute. Coventry, with a spell of possession, draws Swansea out. After quick inter-play from Dabo and Hamer, Gyokeres breaks beyond the Swansea line and his attempted lob is blocked by Ben Hamer in goal for Swansea.
The long ball became the aim of the game for City and it lead to the goal from McFadzean.
As Coventry recycles possession from a throw-in, Swansea immediately close the gap and prevent Coventry from being able to play. Coventry have had much success with width this season, so Swansea close the spaces and leave the long ball as the only outlet. Mcfadzean tries to connect with O'Hare centrally, but the pass is poor. However, it runs through for Godden to chase and his cross for Gyokeres is cleared by Bennett. The resulting corner is heading directly in. What was I saying about corners? 2-1 and Coventry's tails are up.
Though the trend continued into the second half as Coventry felt a quick direct attack would be the undoing for Swansea. However, Coventry fashion just one chance on goal from Dabo, and a whole lot of poor decisions, or wasted opportunities. Credit also to Swansea. They were excellent in their structure and controlling Coventry.
When defending in a 1-5-3-2 the weakness will always be getting pinned deep with no way out. Swansea position players high and wide to control the wing-back, and then allow the outside center-back or inside striker to support and create a 2v1. In this instance, Paterson drops out, allowing Bidwell to pin Dabo deep and a quick switch pass exposes Coventry and continues to push them deep.
The result is that when Coventry win the ball, they look to get out and go forward as quick as possible. In one of many examples, the ball is sent long for Godden and Gyokeres to fight against the Swansea back three. Always outnumbered and often unable to get the ball down. Kyle Naughton was outstanding in this game. With an 87 percent pass completion rate, everything went through him and he would often break the first press and find the best pass to punish any open space.
In one significant moment, Coventry regain possession centrally and Hamer breaks the Swansea line with a more calculated pass that spring Gyokeres behind the Swansea line. It was almost like Gyokeres had too much time, or too many decisions to make and ultimately tapped the ball to Ben Hamer and the chance was gone.
The game was exciting, but it was reckless from Coventry. Due in part to going 2-0 down, but also because some early glimpses of success came from the long ball, so it became the mentality. The NEED to go forward and get back to even terms as quick as possible. Yet the real success came from moments of patience. It was a strong Swansea performance that deserves credit due in part to the style of play under Russell Martin.
Stats from whoscored.com