Coventry struggled early on to possess further forward than their own defensive third. In reality, the first pass from Moore was easy enough, and then it was a defensive Forest block. In this image, McFadzean is calling out to Maatsen to show for the ball as the Forest line leaves no other choice than a long ball.
Yet, moments later you see how Coventry has worked it into the tight channels and Gyokeres lays the ball back. Maatsen, under pressure with 3 Forest players pressing, looks inside to Sheaf who is jumped on by Yates.
In the opening exchanges and up until the Forest goal, the majority of Coventry's possession went through Hyam and Sheaf, but not much further forward as Waghorn and Gyokeres had less than 10% of the ball. It felt all too familiar in these opening exchanges. Forest was comfortable with 30% possession, but most of the game was in front of them.
When Coventry got the ball forward, they offered a central threat that was expected from a front two, and especially with the addition of Waghorn. Sheaf received the ball from Dabo, and with Forest dropping deep due to the forward run of Gyokeres and the wing-backs of Maatsen and DaCosta there was space between the line. The space created meant O'Hare could receive and combine with DaCosta. Call it early season rust, but the ball wide to an isolated DaCosta felt like the wrong pass when Coventry had an overload on the left.
A warning sign for Coventry was the loss of possession and being exposed. Forest won the ball and recycled to Samba. His long ball was won by Lolley, leaving Hyam stranded. After combining with Johnson, he looked to be in a favorable 1v1 against McFadzean but was dispossessed well by the Sky Blues Captain. Importantly, you can see the cover of DaCosta with Dabo. DaCosta faced a lot of criticism last season for the defensive side to his game, but his cover was excellent in these key transition moments.
Unfortunately, his cover wasn't enough for the opener.
First, you see the opportunity for Forest. Gyokeres drove inside with the ball looking for the players rushing forward in support. Maatsen, O'Hare and Waghorn all push to get ahead of the ball. Soh, the center back, steps to win the ball and instantly looks forward. With one pass, into Johnson, he takes 7 players out of the game. Note the position of Johnson relative to Sheaf.
Johnson picks up the ball and drives at the Coventry backline. With Sheaf in pursuit, the Coventry line drops. Sheaf couldn't foul. He was already on a yellow but had he moved inside and allowed McFadzean to press forward, the play could have broken down as it did a minute before.
Instead, Johnson turns on the sprint and leaves Sheaf behind. His ball was excellent, and Dabo's studs got stuck in the turf allowing for Taylor to score. 6 seconds from a promising attack to conceding.
At halftime, City introduced Rose. Pulling DaCosta and pushing Dabo forward, but importantly Hyam shifted to RCB. Importantly because it was well documented here that Hyam would cut inside from LCB onto his right foot and often played into trouble. In this game, Coventry attacked 54% down the right. When defending deep, Dabo was at home at the RWB, but there was also Gyokeres ahead of him. Here he won the ball easily from a Dabo long ball - this is something that Coventry really struggled with last season, and though there was surprise about Gyokeres playing ahead of Walker, this choice proved right for the game.
More structure came from attacks down the right, which included not leaving the team exposed to counter attacks with the support from Hyam instead of Dabo. The game began to turn through instances like this for Coventry.
A negative pass from Dabo brings Forest forward.
A split pass from Hyam takes two out of the game.
A flight from Hamer takes another two out of the game.
O'Hare stretches the field whilst Gyokeres receives the ball in space.
Though Gyokeres falls on the ball and loses it, Coventry are structured in attack and able to press immediately.
You don;t see Waghorn ahead of the ball, but he attracts so much attention, the Forest line drops deep, leaving space to play:
Coventry had 70% of the ball from 70 minutes onward, and wore Forest down. They made mistakes, being dispossessed 4 times in the final 20 minutes and looked worn out. Then came the two goals.
Gyokeres gets the key goal on 81. Another ball played out to the right to a high and wide Dabo leads to a through ball for O'Hare. Even though he is double-teamed, he breaks the pressure and with a little luck the ball drops to Gyokeres to hit the roof of the net. A beautiful thing.
An excellent opening to the season for the Sky Blues. Some adaptation in the system with players moving around, and returning (Jones and Rose), and some old reliable's including McFadzean on 96. City were hard done by in the first game last season versus Forest, but the tidal change in this one is a positive for City and was on the wall for Forest.
Stats from whoscored.com