Yet another early kick off for the Sky Blues today, however I can see why this one was chosen for TV coverage. Our visitors West Brom sat in 3rd ahead of today’s fixture, with ourselves in 6th - it was set up to be an entertaining fixture!
After our last gasp point away at Bournemouth last weekend I felt confident that we could get a result today. I would’ve taken another point to be honest, because realistically I don’t think West Brom are at the same level as Bournemouth, and with the home advantage I thought we stood a good chance. I was joined at the game by my mate Mark, who wanted a look in the club shop ahead of kick off - I’m glad he did, as I discovered that the club are selling Sky Blues themed Christmas jumpers! I couldn’t leave one behind, so made my purchase thinking it was a sign that it would be a good day for us. Sadly, the jumper was probably the highlight of my afternoon in the end.
Mark Robins had gone with Fankaty Dabo at centre back again today, which was a surprise to me when the team news was out. Dabo didn’t have a great game there last time out, so having him out of position again wasn’t ideal but I can only assume Robins thought it was the best option, with Dom Hyam left on the bench. We had also reverted to two up top, which seems to be a bit of a trend now - one up front away from home, two when we’re at the CBS. The club also paid tribute to legendary figure John Sillett after his passing earlier this week - a lovely gesture for the man who brought home the FA Cup for us in 1987.
In the early stages of the game I thought we looked the better side. We were playing some neat football in the opposition half and while we didn’t have much in the way of chances, we were on top of West Brom for the opening 15/20 minutes. The best opportunity came from some good work down the right hand side - Dabo was allowed to come forward and slide a through ball in for Callum O’Hare, who pulled it back across the box where it fell to Ben Sheaf. Sheaf couldn’t sort his feet out quickly enough and scuffed the ball - a golden opportunity spurned! Had it been Matty Godden on the end of that ball it would’ve been 1-0, no question.
As it happens, not long after this we ended up going 1-0 down. West Brom were allowed in far too easily from our left side, Callum Robinson found room in the middle to play the ball through and Karlan Grant’s run wasn’t tracked - he finished the one on one chance easily. Frustrating from our perspective, as those kind of balls shouldn’t find their way through our back line!
Once West Brom had the lead, I then thought we seemed to drop off massively in terms of quality. The neat, intricate passes we had been playing weren’t coming off and we were giving away possession in key areas. When we got forward there didn’t seem to be any urgency either, and West Brom were able to get into the ascendancy for the remainder of the half. Simon Moore was called into action a couple of times and one chance was blocked on the line by Ian Maatsen. Our only real chance of note came through Todd Kane - his shot from a tight angle was deflected on to the post by a defender who stuck out a leg. Sam Johnstone in the West Brom goal wasn’t troubled at all really!
Right on half time we then conceded another poor goal - West Brom were allowed into the box far too easily again, and eventually the ball was bundled over the line to make it 2-0. I think Kyle Bartley got the final touch, and supposedly there was a handball in there somewhere however in the replays I’ve seen I can’t make out where. Either way, we hadn’t been at it since we had gone 1-0 down and the second goal was probably an inevitability.
Big improvements were needed in the second half. We had become very sloppy in possession and it had really cost us, we lost our foothold in the game and West Brom were more than happy to take advantage of that. Robins decided to bring Dom Hyam on for Ian Maatsen, with Fankaty Dabo moving across to left wing back - I’m not sure if Maatsen had picked up a knock or not, but having Hyam back seemed like a positive move for me. That being said though, I thought Fankaty Dabo had had a fairly decent game so far with the exception of the opening goal (I think it was him who let Grant run through un-tracked).
We started the second half reasonably well, with a decent bit of pressure in the West Brom half but what struck me most was the visitors’ organisation - we found no space to exploit around their box whatsoever. Every move we made we ended up being forced backwards, shifting the ball across the outside of the box/25 yard area. Ben Sheaf hit one curled effort from range with his left foot, but this eventually went wide. Matty Godden also had a chance on the turn but this only forced a relatively comfortable save from Johnstone.
I don’t think we really did enough in the second half to mount a comeback. West Brom looked quite comfortable and happy for us to have the bulk of the possession, knowing they could keep us away from their area as they had done for most of the game. A free kick into the box led to a Sky Blues corner, from which Todd Kane picked out big Kyle McFadzean who headed home to make it 2-1. I had said to Mark literally seconds before that we hadn’t looked like scoring at all, and I’d be very surprised if we managed to get anything from the game at all! Shows how much I know I guess!
With only a few minutes left on the clock now it felt like we had the momentum, but we couldn’t craft any clear cut chances for ourselves once we had pulled one back. It was quite frustrating to watch actually - there still seemed to be a lack of urgency! Maybe the players have had enough of late drama for one season. One moment that did bring a huge cheer however was our Assistant Manager Adi Viveash running on to the pitch to wrestle a pitch invader to the ground in the final few minutes - well done Adi!
We didn’t do enough to earn a point in the end. It’s annoying, as we’ve lost ground in the play off push now and it makes our next few games much more important. We desperately need a win soon, and if we play like we did today then we won’t beat teams unfortunately. Maybe I’m being a bit too critical, but across the board we need more fight and desire than we had today.
Once again, I hate early kick offs!