Nearly 50 years after their last league meeting, Town and Coventry produced a game which will live as long in the memory. Just kidding. Those of us who were at that last meeting and were wondering if our paths would ever cross again can console ourselves that we were unable to witness it in the flesh.
Played in a weird half light on a poor looking pitch hammered by 2 teams, twice a week and week in week out, both sides had promising spells in a reasonable first half but lost their way after the break with errors strewn across 45 minutes of numbing irrelevance.
A bright start by the Sky Blues, orchestrated by the busy Hamer, featuring a couple of long range shots which didn’t trouble Schofield soon faded and the visitors had the better of the first half.
O’Brien twice played in Mbenza for chances, the second of which should’ve seen Town in front and a potentially very different game ahead than the rather bloodless affair which unfolded. Mbenza, who had a good first half, also forced a very good save from Wilson after O’Brien’s first assist.
While Town rued Mbenza missing the target from a slightly wide angle – he could and maybe should’ve played in the unmarked Bacuna for a certain goal – Coventry broke quickly and menacingly following a Town corner only for Hamer to blaze over.
Those 3 incidents temporarily elevated an otherwise average contest. Town largely controlled the game but failure to translate their ascendancy in to a lead lay the foundations for a scruffy second half performance which was far more tired than was expected with the return of the senior players from their weekend rest.
Struggling to find any sort of fluency, the Terriers’ performance deteriorated badly after half time. The threat from the Mbenza/Pipa flank, prominent before the break, faded entirely, perhaps hampered by a booking for the Spaniard who had been very fortunate not to see a yellow in the opening 10 minutes, while Toffolo hardly threatened down the left all evening as the need to find a more focused and reliable replacement for Koroma became more and more apparent.
O’Brien’s running with the ball wasn’t matched by his passing which was often wasteful. He wasn’t alone in giving up cheap possession and with his midfield partner Eiting barely featuring in a position which seemed to be in some sort of no man’s land, the visitors relied heavily upon Hogg’s energy and accuracy but it wasn’t enough to break a resolute and disciplined Coventry.
Bacuna’s night ended after a blow of indeterminate force left him in a heap in the area. The contact was accidental but if his display up to that point hadn’t convinced Corberán to replace him from the thin resources on the bench, his mind was made up for him.
The home side caused little difficulty to Town’s defence in the second half, but Sarr and Toffolo, perhaps suffering a hangover from the trauma of Saturday, managed to give them a hand.
Sarr inelegantly got in and out of a horrible tangle after misjudging a routine ball forward while Toffolo, in possibly his least effective display in a Town shirt, lost the ball rather inexplicably to Dabo whose goal bound shot was somehow kept out by a combination of the post and a very cool Edmonds-Green. The youngster’s calmness throughout was exemplary and, along with Hogg, was the big positive of the night.
A decent Pritchard shot, following a rare involvement in proceedings from Eiting was well saved, though Wilson, whose save from Mbenza in the first half was first class, would have been mortified if it had beaten him.
Otherwise, these combatants amply demonstrated their lower mid table credentials with unsatisfactory displays and neither could be greatly encouraged by their endeavours, though Coventry’s solid defence in the second half squeezed all of the flair and instinct from Town’s forward play and an eight match unbeaten run in the Championship is not to be sneezed at.
Town, for their part, are now half way to safety if 50 points is accepted as the mark to achieve. Thinking back to the start of the season and the resources at Corberán’s disposal, there is an argument to be made that he is somewhat ahead of expectations.
A stern looking test against Watford and a very tricky Boxing Day trip to Barnsley are up next and many players will have to improve markedly to push on.