Millwall came from behind to beat Shrewsbury Town last Saturday, as goals from Ben Thompson, Steve Morison and a Lee Gregory penalty secured a 3-1 win. This weekend, the Lions head to Coventry City. Aidan McCartney from the Coventry Telegraph provides ‘The View From The Opposition’…
Name: Aidan McCartney
After looking like certainties for promotion for large parts of the season, the Sky Blues have slipped away and are now out of contention completely – just what has gone so wrong?: It’s been an unmitigated disaster for the Sky Blues since Christmas. After defeating Crewe 5-0 on January 2nd – a result that left Coventry four points off the top spot in 4th place – they have only managed two wins and a total of ten points from the 48 available.
There’s a host of factors which have contributed to the side sitting in 13th place with only five games left.
Teams have worked out how to combat the Sky Blues’ offensive style. They dropped deeper, prevented giving the likes of James Maddison and Ruben Lameiras space and got men behind the ball quickly. Injuries plagued the team in defence and an unsettled back four started to leak simple goals, with the side looking especially vulnerable from set-pieces.
Quick-fire loanee Ryan Kent returned to Liverpool and wasn’t replaced. Without him, the side lacked any sort of pace in attack. Mowbray attempted to strengthen his young squad in January with experienced heads such as Stephen Hunt, Darius Henderson and Peter Ramage – however, this hasn’t been a success and the sale of Maddison to Norwich (despite him returning on loan) on deadline day didn’t help boost confidence.
A mixture of poor defending, bad luck and key injuries have further hampered City and they have been unable to get out of the rut which hit them after the New Year, as goals also dried up and confidence collapsed. The long season now seems to have caught up on a young Sky Blues side, who are limping towards a bottom-half finish.
Millwall – who you beat 4-0 on the second weekend of the season – are now in 4th position, with the play-offs in their sights – how do you see their season ending up?: I can see the Lions making a sustained push for automatic promotion. Burton Albion are wobbling in second place and Millwall could be the team to take full advantage. The next four games all look very winnable, before a final day clash at fellow promotion chasers Gillingham.
Who are Coventry’s ‘ones to watch’ on Saturday? You signed veteran Joe Cole a few months ago – how has he been getting on?: Young winger Jodi Jones has made an impressive impact since joining on loan, with a view to a permanent deal, from Dagenham & Redbridge last month. The 18-year-old has offered much-needed pace and creativity in attack, despite still being a raw talent. Top scorer Adam Armstrong appears to have lost his scoring touch and is without a goal in eight matches. Despite that, the Newcastle youngster still possess quality in front of goal and a work-rate to match.
Unfortunately, Joe Cole’s spell at Coventry has been rather underwhelming. The 34-year-old has only shown glimpses of his undoubted class and it’s clear to see his legs have gone, with Mowbray only using him in fits and starts. Joe is a model professional, on and off the pitch, but it’s probably time for him to head to America for the retirement gig.
Which Millwall players do you think Tony Mowbray will have to pay special attention to?: I’ve always liked the look of Lee Gregory when he was smashing them in for Halifax in the Conference. It’s pleasing to see he has made the step up to professional football with ease – a return of 24 goals from 47 appearances this season is hugely impressive. Likewise, Chris Taylor. He was always a menace when I used to see him play for Oldham and I knew he’d prove to be an astute acquisition by the Lions as the season concluded.
Finally, how do you see the game going?: The Sky Blues have played 4-3-3 in recent weeks as Mowbray tries desperately to spark his team into life. It’s hard to see past a Millwall victory. Neil Harris’ side arrive at the Ricoh Arena on a solid run of form and should have too much for an out-of-sorts Sky Blues side who probably just want this season to finish.
Score Prediction: Coventry City 0-2 Millwall.
Aidan’s Team Prediction: Charles-Cook; Ricketts, Martin, Stephens, Phillips; Bigirimana, Fleck, Vincelot; Fleck, Armstrong, Fortune.
Coventry City v Millwall takes place at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, April 16th. Kick-off is at 3pm.