A return from the international break, an away game, and the start of a 9-game run. A game that Coventry could have won early, and lost later, with the game really opening up after about 80 minutes.
Sheffield United are struggling to find the final click. They wanted to keep the ball, but lacked much attacking threat, especially in the first half as Coventry went close with a couple of flash chances.
The Coventry box-midfield you see packs out any central success for United. Bogle was a constant outlet wide, against an out-of-position Dabo. However, the United attack would be stifled so often by the 9 players behind the ball.
Coventry set up to contain Sheffield United. It worked. The crowd booed at half time and voiced their frustration throughout especially when United would recycle possession and the ball would end up all the way back with Foderingham. It would allow Coventry to organize and press, taking Hourihane out of the game with the three man press that forced United long, or into predictable areas, like the full-backs Stevens and Bogle.
Coventry struggled to get much going forward, given the shape and game plan. Even as Coventry played short from Moore, you can see the box-midfield so deep that the only outlet was Gyokeres long.
Coventry were therefore looking for opportunity. In just another example of the defensive organization, the cross from Stevens is cleared and the ball finds Sheaf centrally.
As Sheaf drives into midfield, Gyokeres finally finds the space and channel to run into. Egan pulls him down. Yellow card, but one of a few counter-attacks from City.
Success did come in the form of Hamer, though he picked up another yellow. Whenever Coventry got forward, he would connect centrally and provide the ball for the dangerous crosses by Kane. 5 of the 8 Coventry first half crosses came through Kane. 0 from Dabo.
Coventry could arguably have had a penalty in the 49th minute.
Coventry had a 69% pass success rate in the second half. The shape and personnel changes came in the 64th minute as Godden and Walker replace Hamer and Gyokeres. Going with two strikers almost paid off as O'Hare steals the ball after an errant header from Walker. The layoff for Godden leads him wide enough to make the angle too tight.
Sadly, this was the end of the forward threat. Coventry gave up more of the ball (just 35% possession in the last 20 minutes), and took only one other shot, though it felt like two strikers would mean City were 'going for it'. However, the changes created gaps. Here' O'Hare has been dispossessed and Hourihane has the ball with 3 options through the midfield, faced up against Allen and Sheaf.
The change in shape meant Coventry gave up matching in midfield to try and fashion a chance with two strikers. It also meant giving up any balance in the midfield and resorting to the long ball. Frustratingly, there were several poor turnovers that almost resulted in goals from not playing longer.
Here Dabo receives a pass from Moore and attempts to play into Allen. The pass is pressed and won by Hourihane. The resulting cross from Gibbs-White finds McGoldrick at the back post, and fortunately he fires way over. Coventry defended and frustrated United well when organized, but losing the ball in these areas is costly, bu It also suggests why United are where they are in the league.
Sepcial notes for the end of the game will be the save from Moore on the 89th minute. It goes without saying that he would make that save and that's a luxury, but it was still excellent. The same for McFadzean and his performance overall, but the block in the 93rd minute keeps the clean sheet and point away from home for City. A good start for Coventry, but up next is Birmingham and their 3 game unbeaten run.
Stats from @whoscored