Sports Mole previews Monday’s Championship clash between Coventry City and Bournemouth, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The hosts have retained hope of reaching the Championship playoff places thanks to back-to-back victories though, so it is sure to be an intriguing battle at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
Following a run of just one win in eight Championship outings over the past couple of hopes, Coventry’s remarkable season looked to be petering out in the closing stages of the campaign.
However, thrilling wins over Fulham and Birmingham City in their last two games have revived their hopes of an incredible achievement of reaching the playoffs next month.
For the majority of the first half in their short trip across the West Midlands on Friday, the Sky Blues looked to be suffering from a hangover of their fantastic 3-1 triumph at league-leaders Fulham five days earlier, before their never-say-die attitude under Mark Robins kicked in once again.
After falling 2-0 behind owing to some dreadful defending from set pieces, Robins’ men netted a quickfire double on the stroke of half time from two dead-ball situations of their own to haul themselves back into the contest.
Ben Sheaf netted both of those goals at the end of the opening 45, and Gustavo Hamer‘s deliveries continued to cause problems for the Birmingham defence into the second half too, as he got his second assist when Michael Rose powered home his corner to provide his side with the lead for the first time in the contest.
The only goal of the game to arrive from open play came in the final minute of normal time, as some neat build up led to Callum O’Hare sealing the three points and a remarkable comeback win.
That victory could well prove crucial for Coventry in the final few weeks, with eight of the nine sides above them in the table dropping points on Friday, meaning they climbed a place to ninth ahead of the action on Easter Monday, with just three points separating them from the playoff places ahead of another huge game against Bournemouth.
Meanwhile, frustrations and nerves at Bournemouth continued on Good Friday, with the Cherries dropping points once again as they were held to a goalless draw against fellow promotion-hopefuls Middlesbrough.
Neither side created many goalscoring opportunities at the Vitality Stadium, so perhaps neither were deserving of all three points, although it was Scott Parker‘s side who came closest when Jefferson Lerma struck the bar with his headed effort.
Picking up a draw against a stubborn Boro side was hardly a setback for Bournemouth, but it continued the theme of recent weeks, where Monday’s visitors have seemed to lack ideas in the final third of the pitch as they struggle to get over the line in their quest for promotion.
In fact, Friday’s blank in front of goal was the third successive game that the second-placed side have failed to find the back of the net, with only two points being yielded from the last nine available.
Despite their stutters however, they remain in a commanding position to return to the Premier League thanks to the lack of consistency of the sides around them in the table.
As mentioned above, many of their promotion rivals also struggled on Friday, so the Cherries retained their four-point advantage over Huddersfield Town in third place, and with two games in hand as well, the odds remain heavily in their favour.
Parker and his side will be keen to avoid any drama in the final few weeks though, so they will be eager to silence any doubters and earn a crucial three points on Monday to edge them closer to their goal.
Coventry City Championship form:
Bournemouth Championship form:
Manchester United loanee Ethan Laird is expected to keep his place at right-back after earning his start for the club last time out.
Coventry City possible starting lineup:
Moore; Rose, Hyam, Bidwell; Kane, Allen, Sheaf, Hamer, Maatsen; O’Hare; Gyokeres
Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Travers; Laird, Phillips, Kelly, Smith; Lerma, Cook; Christie, Billing, Anthony; Solanke
We say: Coventry City 1-1 Bournemouth
Coventry continue to show plenty of spirit and fight in their surprise push for the playoff places, and they are likely to make this a very difficult afternoon for Bournemouth on Monday.
With the visitors struggling of late, we cannot see them earning the three points once again at a difficult venue, with a draw a likely outcome in a tight encounter.