"Coming up England by a different line for once, early in the cold new year,
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates,
’Why, Coventry!’ I exclaimed, ‘I was born here…’"
It has always been tempting to look at an upcoming fixture with one eye on the current League One table, to see where three points would place us … the unfortunate truth about this season is that it’s more likely that our gaze will be over the shoulder to see how many teams will overtake us when we lose. And the disturbing facts are that not only do some of the sides below us have a game in hand, but if results don’t go our way we could well find ourselves in the bottom four … and based on our previous meetings with Coventry City (with their 2 ex-Saddlers) there’s probably nobody that would take greater pleasure in sending us that way than the Sky Blues!
Surprisingly, given Dean Keates’ activity in the January transfer window, Mark Robins has easily the larger of the two squads - 39 is the current count, with another 5 loaned out. Perhaps he has found the secret of combining quality with quantity, as Coventry are comfortably mid-table (11th place, 43 points) - but we have actually scored one more League One goal than they have!!! (But we’ve shipped 13 more, which accounts for much).
Coventry’s current League One form:-
5 Jan Scunthorpe United (A) Lost 2-1
12 Jan AFC Wimbledon (H) Drew 1-1
19 Jan Plymouth Argyle (A) Lost 2-1
26 Jan Blackpool (H) Lost 0-2
2 Feb Gillingham (H) Drew 1-1
9 Feb Rochdale (A) Won 0-1
It has become apparent in recent weeks (and months!) that opposition managers have done their homework on this Walsall side, and realised that our only tactic is to lump the ball up to our old-fashioned centre-forward in the hope that (a) he can control these long range missiles, and (b) someone will be near enough to take advantage of any knock-downs. Patently, it isn’t working, and the only real alternative of playing an attractive passing game to build an attack isn’t available because we don’t seem to have players with the necessary skill.
Prediction? As it has got to the stage of team selection being impossible to predict, so it goes with trying to forecast a score. The best we can realistically hope for is a 1-1 draw, with Jordy Hiwula scoring for the Sky Blues in reply to an Amadou Bakayoko own goal…