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Rotherham United 0-1 Coventry City

It had the feeling of a Rugby match. Playing for touch and being in a position to threaten your opponent.

The stats that back this up: Coventry 50% pass completion. Rotherham 60%.

8 total dribbles in the entire game.

67 aerial duels won between both sides.

30 total fouls.

12 shots for Coventry.

It was inevitable that a game with so much on the line would be played in such a way. No mistakes, do not mess up. Don't let your team down. No silly Coventry mistakes that have haunted many performances this season. There isn't really much tactical analysis to put into this report because there really wasn't that much to write home about.

Opening moments. Aside from the opening exchange with Kellys effort being tipped onto the bar, the game standard was set. Wilson rarely had much to do, but when he got the ball early, note how Rotherham pressed on Coventry. A clever team, who have watched Coventry hurt themselves might have dropped away and encouraged that short pass.

Coventry did set up for the 'tactical approach' to this game, with two strikers at least. Even here, you see Kelly winning the ball centrally and then instantly looking long, though a strength of DaCosta's is to have the ball at his feet in space.

The same situation occurs several minutes later. A long ball is knocked-down to Matty James and Rotherham have 9 behind the ball. Yet, Coventry are still so hesitant to get forward. Rotherham were always going to defend deep and get players behind the ball. Two strikers and a #10 occupy a lot of the central space, so encouraging the full backs into the game could have created more opportunities going forward in play.

Set Pieces.

There were a lot in the game. Including throw-ins, most of Coventry's attempts on goal came from the chaos after a ball launched into the Rotherham penalty area. Here you see one of the several Coventry freekicks with James and McCallum standing over it.

This is where it felt more like Rugby. The ball would be played into channels like above and play would result in a freekick, corner or throw-in. There was rarely much drive to go to goal. Credit to Coventry and the set pieces as they were not all launched into the box, with some varied approaches on short corners or finding alternative ways to get the ball in, whilst disrupting Rotherhams organization. Something we also say earlier in the season versus Stoke.


Yet, arguably two of the best chances in the game came from open play. First, Rotherham got the ball down in the middle of the field and spread wide to overload McCallum. He scrambled to put the ball out and the following corner resulted in Wing firing the ball off the post. Almost 1-0 to Rotherham.

Coventry had the next big chance after winning the knock-down again and putting the ball into space for Walker. Inexplicably, he opts to cross low and hard.

The Coventry goal came from a build up in open play also. After combining down the left, a trend for Coventry with McCallum, the ball was floated in behind the defensive line. McCallum was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, as the ball almost ran out of play. It came from a combination and ball in from Kelly. Note, DaCosta being wide open, but Coventry opting to play cagey and more direct. It worked!

The freekick resulted in Ositgard's header being deflected into the goal and the now infamous karate kick on the corner flag.

Coventry held Rotherham at bay and executed a game plan that wasn't the prettiest, but was the most effective and safest. The direct play helped to pin Rotherham deep and give them very little joy going forward. With no shots on target, the question over Coventry's goalkeeper choice remains unanswered, but a clean sheet, 3 points and a jump to 18th (even though it looks like a house of cards) is a welcomed breather until Sunday. Tell me what you think. @LeeDunneSoccer


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