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Coventry City 3-2 Reading


The formation from Robins for this game was something that needed attention, I think. And it got it. Playing with a front two failed to work against Brentford, but perhaps it was the opportunity that Biamou needed.

Early on, Dabo played across the goal twice after receiving the ball and having no other outlet, which made City look as susceptible as they have done consistently when trying to build through the back.

However, playing with two strikers, on paper, would allow City to play longer when the inevitable press makes getting out too hard, or too risky, and this was outlet was clearly needed. The image you see is the building of the first goal for City. The disorganization in transition meant the build would be risky, and likely to result in Sheaf (central with his arms out) laying the ball into Dabo for a probable repeat of the earlier misplaced passes.

Instead, the ball goes longer, Biamou wins the header for Hamer to spread the game wide. The image you see is just after Hamer's pass wide and importantly it shows two things and one thing you cannot see:

1 - Having played centrally, the game is spread wide, bringing Giles forward.

2 - Reading chasing the ball, leaving them unorganized, and more susceptible to the chance that was created.

3 - You cannot see Godden because a strike partner allows him to push higher and onto the last man, as opposed to being the one winning this header and leaving the field much more condensed. It was his cut back that lead Hamer onto the edge of the penalty area to put it in the bottom corner.

When in possession, City were threatening with Shipley, enjoying some forward freedom, found himself between the midfield and defensive Reading lines.

The space for Shipley was created by the pushing up of two strikers, which occupies the defensive line enough that the midfielders don't have the support to encourage them to press. The result allows City to somewhat dictate the attack and play how they want to, as you see here with Hamer playing into the feet of Shipley, behind the midfield line, and Giles also higher up in support.

Although bias, you can see the impact that it also had for Reading at the right moment:

The first Reading goal came from the under-fire Sheaf. If you follow Twitter you might see, along with the 'Robins out' gang, several folks who really don't like Sheaf at the base of the midfield because he can make poor decisions.

One of those came here. Shipley won the ball, laid it off the Sheaf who then tried to play something forwards that was nowhere near any intended target and the resulting transition lead to Reading equalizing. You can see why there might be a rising dislike of Sheaf in that role. We have the beauty of replays and, with Dabo wide open for a switch, you have to wonder why Sheaf would play long in that position.

Regardless of the goal, this would be a place to play more direct because there is an organized defensive line that should be able to repel any sort of counterattack, as opposed to some of the recent goals we conceded that have resulted from isolated players losing the ball. So, the inquest goes on as to why João can receive between the lines to drive at the goal and score in the same corner as Hamer did in the first half. Hyam did press out, but it was too late as Reading's leading goal scorer had all the space he needed.

So we return to the giving away of the ball, even though organized, City were up 1-0 at this point and a 'better' opportunity was there for Sheaf and is the type of decision that I feel he needs to start making for more progress by him and the team.

We got what we wanted, or at least I did. I saw Coventry playing on the front foot. There were options for the team knowing the difficulties we would face when trying to possess and control the game from our own half. Godden wasn't isolated and had much more of an impact when pushing on and taking the Reading defensive line with him, leaving Biamou to connect with the midfield and bring the team forwards. Godden was rewarded for his tenacity and looked like he was having fun when he scored after pouncing on the second ball from Dabo's second-half shot. McCallum with a 'wonder' strike that should probably have been saved, but it put the finishing touches on a performance that was positive and encouraging.


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