Note. Brentford didn't take a knee before kick-off.
Some adjustment to the line-up and a consideration for how we can be successful versus Brentford meant that a clear plan was on display for Coventry.
Some stats I will explore:
34 passes inside the defensive third.
Coventry forced Brentford long a lot with their organized press. Below you see the benefit of the Coventry shape with two strikers and O'Hare in the #10. Hyam won the long ball and Biamou knocked it down to O'Hare to shoot. The Coventry organization encouraged Brentford deeper in the game as they searched for a way through, creating a separation from the front line.
In another example, you can see that Caños drops so deep to get the ball from the keeper that only two players are ahead of him and Coventry keep control of the situation, even as they just lost the ball. There were few moments for Brentford to break through Coventry.
Brentford found ways through the initial press, but only 24% of the game was played in the Coventry defensive third. After an ineffective press versus Norwich, Coventry needed to be much improved in this game, especially in the second phase. Here you can see that Janelt receives the ball behind a ball-watching Hamer. The LB, Henry, takes off and the ball eventually deflects behind for a corner. Ghoddis is wide open and, once Coventry stopped the central penetration, the game was more controlled in letting him receive the ball.
Brentford stats going forward.
10 shots. 2 on target. 6 blocked. Coventry were not going to let this one go as easily as it seemed versus Cardiff and Norwich. Later in the game, as Brentford searched for a goal, you can see Coventry's deep 1-5-2. Even though it's 2-0 this is still a theme for the game that Brentford didn't have an answer for how to break this shape. The flat attacking shape at this point leaves no forward outlet and Pask is able to steal the ball away. Incidentally, the best chance for Brentford was arguably from a cross and Dalsgaard hit it back across the goal and wide.
34 defensive third passes.
In previous games, you would likely have seen Kelly turn, lay it to McFadzean centrally, who then would play out to Hyam and on from there. The second Norwich goal came from a similar situation in which Coventry tied themselves up. Not in this game.
Here you see Kelly going long and over the pressure of the Brentford front 6. A trend in the game and perhaps his experience showing, given it is only he and the back three behind the ball.
Only 34 passes in the defensive third summed up perfectly in one picture you might say. This is not Coventry, but it is Coventry adapting to the demands of the game. This was the long freekick that resulted in the Biamou penalty. In comparison, Coventry played 82 against Watford.
As with the long ball from Kelly on 6 minutes, here is another example at 1-0 with Kelly going longer. Even with O'Hare open centrally in the space in front of the Brentford backline, the preference was to go long. Many of the balls from this situation were simply hammered long with no second thought, opting instead to make the game difficult for Brentford in possession.
The tactic for clearing and getting it back to Brentford to counter-press paid off. One of the 23 Brentford turnovers was key for the second goal. Brentford tried to break the initial press and Coventry jumped on the opportunity.
Against a back four, with wingbacks, the opportunity is down the flanks. Especially as Coventry opted for a second striker, you can see them occupying and pinning the central defenders. As McCallum breaks forward, it means that Mbeumo also needs to trackback, leaving only two outlets. On the opposite side, you can see DaCosta wide open too, and O'Hare in the space between the lines.
Hamer was not as influential with the ball, again. He had to do a lot of dirty work when organizing in the press and committed three fouls. Bringing in Sheaf and James, for Kelly, was necessary for the press to remain effective.
Everything about this performance feels like deja vu as Coventry have fallen victim to this type of result several times this season. It's not 'pretty' winning league 1 to scrapping for it in the Championship, but you earn victories and staying power in the league with adjustments and a plan. This game showed that. The Norwich game did not.
DaCosta in the season ticket holder shirt and its 100% winning record is the deserved cover for this piece!