It's a new year. Sadly, for the optimists', I think it means nothing for getting in shape or starting a new hobby. However, and hopefully, it's the start of a resolution for Coventry. Coventry took control and never really looked like letting go, even in the closing moments when conceding a goal would have likely had shorter odds.
In the opening exchanges, Milwall looked more threatening. Perhaps learning from the slow Coventry start versus Preston, Milwall pressed hard and won the knockdowns they forced.
Pressing hard on Sheaf after a throw from Dabo. The clearance fell to Wallace to attack for Milwall
Milwall pressed Coventry back to Wilson, and then sat back, leaving him to play long predictable balls that were won with knockdowns.
Starting slow has happened in the last two games, but in both games, Coventry has found their stride, and versus Milwall, there were two key moments:
Be hard to beat.
10 players behind the ball early on will help to contain the attack of Milwall, but it also provides passing opportunities to prevent the long ball that Milwall would win. You can see the diamond/2-2 centrally with the 5 behind, and 5 because of the defending moment. The Milwall attack has flipped to a 1-3 with Bennett and Wallace pushing higher, leaving Bradshaw isolated. Milwall couldn't get through the organization of Coventry.
Seconds before this was sloppy possession from both teams, but eventually, the ball cycled through McFadzean, into Sheaf, and then out to McCallum as Milwall scrambled to recover. Importantly, Sheaf supported McCallum, who then found Hamer, and his ball wide found Dabo who cut inside and the cutback cross cut out.
Why did it swing here?
Note the black player lines. The two holding midfielders for Milwall were deep. Bringing 3 of the attacking 4 with them (Milwall played in a 1-4-2-3-1 early on). Therefore, no outlet for Milwall and so even though the ball was won from the cross, it went right back to Coventry.
Be hard to beat, and the chances will come.
With a loss of possession and recognition of the situation, Coventry dropped behind Biamou. In dropping back, the ball is often played in front of you, and Dabo seized the opportunity. He won the ball, and it eventually found Shipley to shoot and play it purposefully off of the post and Cooper for 1-0.
Check the previous post for the Preston game. Coventry created the SAME situations but did not score. That to me is frustration.
Building-up to the second goal.
Sheaf on the ball, and connecting with Hamer. Note, the central midfield pair of Woods and Williams. The ball into Hamer not only takes them out of the game, but Hamer is already watching for McCallum to join the attack. Dabo is circled because he has been such a threat that the left forward, Bennett is following him which pushes the rest of the Milwall team deep.
12 seconds later, the ball is worked into Shipley's feet to combine with Hamer. Hamer was fouled which lead to the goal, but the disconnect between the central midfielders leaves the space for Hamer to play between them. O'Hare is circled because his positioning forces Cooper away and makes space for the combination to be successful for Hamer and Shipley.
Subtleties that make a difference:
Quick attacks with width. Exploit numerical advantages, in this case versus the two holding midfielders. Occupy spaces and players, like O'Hare. Get your best player (I mean worst if you are a premier league scout) in space and able to exploit space.
See it all in action:
The first half was filled with chances for Coventry. Whilst it didn't come back to haunt them, and it was better than Tuesday, it still isn't enough. 17 shots. 5 on target. 2 off the frame of the goal. Notably, O'Hare had a favorable 1v1 saved and Shipley hit the post. Robins announced transfer market activity. A goal scorer, perhaps? The play behind the finish is getting better, but it means nothing without goals.
At half time Milwall changed their shape to combat Coventry's control on the game. It worked and, I think, highlights the forward issues of Coventry when facing a like for like shape and opponent. Without the numerical superiority in midfield, Coventry didn't create much. Chances came later on, but only after relinquishing possession to Milwall and letting them back into the game.
Wilson has been a very good replacement for Marosi, but there are some issues. He's on the chopping block somewhat today. He could have been for the second goal on Tuesday, and for some certainly questionable touches. However, almost every ball he launched long came right back. Does Marosi do this?
Even in this instance, when McFadzean is pointing out a wide-open Ostigard, the ball is still sent long. No pressure, open players, space to play...
The biggest threat from Milwall came from an identical position:
The long ball from Wilson finds the free head of Wallace. One of many situations that sent the ball back at Coventry in this game.
Bradshaw fought for and won the ball, playing himself in behind, but ultimately missing. All from a long kick.
I called out Hyam for the errors in the game on Tuesday, and the penalty he gave away today begs belief. I hope it's just a blip and he reads this, so he's trying even harder. However, with a lack of goals in the team, penalties cannot be given away. Balls cannot be played short. Mistakes that lead to goals need to disappear.
I haven't mentioned O'Hare much. I think he is a wonderful asset to the team. No, no assists' but should probably have had at least one in the last two games. My commentary on him is certainly subjective for now, but I support him. I do agree with you though, he has to finish that chance on 83 minutes. That's a big miss that makes the rest of the game much easier.
83 O'Hare chance missed. SO much creativity, yet little productivity for goals.
Godden dropped out early. What will it mean? Well, likely Biamou gets a run and a chance and the team adapts, which isn't bad. It means no real depth because Baka doesn't play, but success isn't coming with Godden in the traditional set up so it'll force the hand somewhat.
The FA Cup and Norwich will break up a two-week hiatus from the league and this performance was exactly what we needed. See you in two weeks SBA.