• ITEN Staff

ITEN Match Preview: Coventry (A)


The tough tests keep on coming as Rovers go out on the road again this weekend.

Coventry City are the opponents, flying high in 2nd place after an unbeaten nine-game start to the campaign. Overcoming the huge inconvenience of having to play their home games in Birmingham due to another tenancy dispute over the Ricoh Arena, the Sky Blues have defied the odds to sit pretty in League One as we roll towards October. Rovers are confident themselves though after soundly beating Peterborough last time out, getting back to winning ways against the highest scorers in the division.


Strongest XI found at last?


Darren Moore was right to be pleased with the way his side performed against former Rovers boss Darren Ferguson and his Peterborough team, shutting down the most prolific strike-force in the league and playing superb football throughout to comfortably win a game many were worried about. Goalscorers James Coppinger and Kieran Sadlier shone brightest in a sparkling team display demonstrating that the manager may have found his most effective combination in attack.


Their creative talents alongside livewire winger Jon Taylor were perfectly complemented by the dogged energy of Niall Ennis, the foursome working as a powerful collective to cause all manner of problems for the Posh defence and crafting a multitude of chances. Ben Whiteman and Ben Sheaf had their best game as a tandem in midfield, exploiting Ferguson’s open diamond midfield set-up to devastating effect. Meanwhile, Seny Dieng came in for Ian Lawlor to shore up a defence that is gelling together despite a lack of clean sheets thus far.


With Matty Blair sidelined by a groin injury and Kazaiah Sterling still on the comeback trail for the leg injury he suffered against Rotherham, there is no reason to mess with the winning formula found last time out. Joe Wright is back in contention after scoring in an U23 win over Portsmouth in midweek but won’t be able to get ahead of the excellent Tom Anderson or Cameron John just yet.


Unbeaten Cov never say die


Mark Robins, once Darren Moore’s manager at Barnsley, has fostered tremendous belief throughout his Coventry side, who like Rovers prefer to play possession-based football. Yet to taste defeat in League One this term, the Sky Blues have retained that record with some gutsy displays to snatch wins and draws from the jaws of defeat, including a late winner last time out against Wimbledon and comebacks from two-goal deficits against Portsmouth and Blackpool, the former achieved with only nine men on the field as well.


Former Rovers keeper Marko Marosi went four games without conceding a goal to start his Coventry career, whilst forwards Matt Godden and Jordy Hiwula have eight goals between them already. Jordan Shipley provides ample creative spark out of midfield, now aided by Callum O’Hare, a one-time target of Rovers this summer who got his first start last time out after scoring the injury time winner against Blackpool. There is quality right through this team meaning a stern test for the whole Rovers side, although the back line has suffered from multiple changes of late leading to more goals being conceded.


Anchor-man Liam Kelly remains sidelined by an ankle injury and is a big miss for Cov, but his replacement Liam Walsh scored the winner against Wimbledon and has deputised ably in the last three games.


Head-to-Head


The last meeting between these two sides was a memorable one for Rovers, as goals from Kieran Sadlier and John Marquis sealed a 2-0 win which sent Grant McCann’s side into the Play-Offs on the final day of last season. At the Ricoh Arena last October however, Coventry ran out 2-1 winners to go above Rovers in the League One table despite an excellent second half rally from the visitors.


Our last win away at Coventry came in March 2015, Paul Dickov’s men earning a 3-1 victory against a struggling Sky Blues with Jonson Clarke-Harris notching his only Rovers goal against his former (and future) club. The only survivor in either squad from that day is Marko Marosi, who will start in goal for Cov having been an unused substitute for Rovers on that occasion.


Likely Line-Ups