Had things gone differently over the past two weeks, this report would have likely contained some scathing reviews on the toothless attack of Coventry.
Huddersfield had conceded 68 goals before this game. The second-worst in the Championship. Coventry did create chances but failed to take advantage.
The first half was fairly non-descript. Huddersfield had 60% of possession, both teams with 5 shots, but the tactics from both teams stifled the game.
Huddersfield back four plus Hogg built out versus the Coventry front three. The result was an easy build into the Coventry half.
After breaking the initial press, Huddersfield pinned Coventry deeper with a front three and supporting full-backs. Hogg dictated much of the game as the deeper of the midfield three. Coventry are in their usual, deep 1-5-3-2.
The result of such a deep, pinned line is a moment like this. Coventry wins the ball, but Huddersfield are higher up the field and able to press quickly, winning the ball back in a dangerous area. The front two of Coventry struggled to get into the game or have any sustained pressure from moments like this.
The Huddersfield structure, when in possession, would allow for O'Brien to break the defensive line with a run. His run took Hamer away and allowed Koroma to drive inside and search for the overload on the right side. Again, Coventry are pinned deep with the two strikers high and isolated.
Credit to the halftime change from Robins.
A front two works well against a back three because two occupy three. In the first half, Walker and Gyokeres were man-to-man with Keogh and Sarr, plus Hogg was holding deep and covering. It allowed the full-backs to attack, whilst still controlling any Coventry counter-attack.
Taking Walker off and replacing him with Shipley made a lot of sense to connect the Coventry attack.
Almost immediately the change pays off as Gyokeres and Shipley combine, only to be denied by the post. You can see that Shipley, playing as a false striker, was able to receive the ball between the lines. Gyokeres is playing a 2v1 and the team has won the ball higher up the field, allowing the wing-backs to attack. The changed formation afforded Coventry more players to connect in the attack.
The change in formation resulted in a two-prong success. Above you saw Shipley playing between the lines. Here you can see Gyokeres receiving the ball deeper. Checking for the ball not only took Sarr out of the backline, but it allowed O'Hare and Shipley to drive beyond the attack.
Gyokeres took 4 shots in this game, including the one below that he created for himself. There are no stats for the eye test in watching how much of a problem Gyokeres was for Sarr after the half-time change. Notably, Gyokeres also had double the amount of touches in the second half. Should he have scored the 1v1, below? Yes.
The formation change not only opened up the game for Gyokeres to play to his strengths, but it gave Coventry more room for success. Below Coventry were more purposeful in getting support forward. The back three have stretched to break the press of Huddersfield and the ball found it was into Matty James who broke over the halfway line.
Although the four players ahead of the ball are running away, the intent from Coventry is clear with more players ahead of the ball.
The goal came from the improved Coventry organization and recognition to press in the right moment. Toffolo was a valuable outlet for Huddersfield in this game, but with no outlet here, he loses the ball, and Coventry pounce.
The ball breaks for Hamer, and with a poke of the outside of the foot, he releases Shipley. The shot was deflected in by Schofield, but it went in - a reward for forcing the Huddersfield mistake.
Wilson or Marosi? A new goalkeeper? The fumble is frustrating, as was Ward's shot that went through multiple players and in. It took the wind out of the game for Coventry and the game limped to a 1-1 finish, but mistakes like this cannot happen. This game didn't need a win, but it could have been very different and goalkeeper mistakes like this, when mostly untested, are frustrating and have been a significant part of Coventry's struggle this season.
One more left SBA. The bottom of the league is incredibly tight and we're very thankful to not be a part of that. It would be nice to tighten up those weak areas of the game ready for a stronger, consistent performance next season. We need goals, we need consistency in goal.
Note. O’Hare, once again, was kicked a lot. He will likely be one of our hunted players this summer and we'll be lucky to keep him.