A fan’s preview - Stevenage v Coventry City

Oumare Tounkara of Stevenage shoots wide at MK Dons. Photo:Kevin Coleman 2013

Oumare Tounkara of Stevenage shoots wide at MK Dons. Photo:Kevin Coleman 2013 - Credit: Kevin Coleman

Dean Thompson’s views ahead of this afternoon’s Sky Bet League 1 encounter

Coventry have started the season in mixed form. Starting with two defeats, two wins and two draws, which saw 33 goals scored in six games, since then they’ve picked up two wins and lost the last couple.

So working on statistical evidence a draw today (Saturday) is nailed on…

Except that Saturday’s home defeat by Brentford is the only time Coventry have drawn a blank. Stevenage have only scored more than one goal in a league match this season, and that was on the opening day of the season!

What to expect from Coventry? Eight of their players have played in all 10 games at some point, and they have only used 17 players in total.

They have also created over 50 chances in the previous two games at their new home in Northampton – a frightening statistic. Stevenage fans would be happy with 10 per cent of that.

They are a battling side that never say die, the 5-4 win over Bristol City and the 4-4 draw against Preston bear testament to this.

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The Coventry Telegraph reported that Uwe Rosler picked a big, strong physical side to out-muscle Coventry last weekend. Now where have we heard this before? Trouble is this Stevenage side isn’t big, isn’t strong, and certainly has not been physical enough.

The midfield battle has got to be won this week to give us a chance to test out Coventry’s obvious frailties at the back.

Trouble is we started at MK Dons on Saturday without a recognised striker again, with Luke Freeman leading a lonely line.

If Stevenage are going to beat or even score against Coventry, surely the manager will start with two out of three in Don Cowan, Dani Lopez and Oumare Tounkara [this article was written before the announcement of the signing of Francois Zoko on Friday afternoon].

I had a listen back to A Load of Old Toffee from August, just before the Manchester United friendly.

Westley was so hopeful of Lopez and Tounkara doing well. But I think they have started a game once, together. Against Orient, but on the bench together three times.

Surely these two are our best pairing?

The manager thinks not and in almost every interview refers back to Darius Charles being missing.

He didn’t make the matchday squad at MK so surely he will start from the bench if at all on Saturday.

Then this week the manager has hit me with loss rate stats improving. Bottom line stat for me is we’ve conceded 10 in the last three. Zero points.

The Coventry team are a young side. Take out the goalkeeper, Joe Murphy, the centre-half, Andy Webster and striker Leon Clarke, the average age is 22.

Stevenage need to get at them from the start and get them on the back foot. Only 2,600 fans watched the Sky Blues at their ‘home’ game on Sunday, you can be guaranteed they will have 1,400 at the South end of the ground on Saturday.

The Stevenage attack needs to get at the young Coventry defence and silence the loud following they will have. Please…………………!

* Dean Thompson is a regular co-commentator alongside Steve Watkins on BBC 3CR (95.5fm, 103.8, 104.5 and Local DAB). He is also a presenter on the Stevenage FC podcast A Load Of Old Toffee (http://www.boroguide.co.uk/blog/tag/a-load-of-old-toffee/)