Tyler Walker’s delicate chip in the 54th minute following a Joe Ralls mistake was enough to be the difference between Coventry City and Cardiff City, with the Sky Blues earning just their third win of the Sky Bet Championship season.
On a cold night, Mark Robins and his Coventry side went into the game at their temporary home of St Andrews in need of a win. They were in dire form, with just one win in their last 10 matches, sitting one place above the relegation zone.
Neil Harris’ Cardiff were not coping much better and seemed to be lacking the ability to scrape a win, with 5 of their 10 previous games ending in draws. They found themselves in 15th place with the threat of moving closer to the drop zone if they lost and other results went against them.
The opening 10 minutes were scrappy, with both teams getting into good positions on the wing but failing to deliver the killer ball. It was clear both these teams were out of form.
However, Coventry should have found themselves in front on 12 minutes. Dominic Hyam made a rare venture forward with the ball from centre back, laying the ball off to Gustavo Hamer. A beautifully weighted ball was hit over the top to Jordan Shipley, but the onrushing Alex Smithies made a smart save following a shot from the left of the six yard box.
Coventry began to control possession, with some smart build up play allowing Ryan Giles two shots on goal, but the Wolves loanee wasn’t able to convert. Cardiff did fight their way back into the game, with Ralls’ attempted chip forcing Sky Blues ‘keeper Marko Marosi to help the ball over. The resulting corner taken by Harry Wilson found Marlon Pack, whose flick across goal had no one at the end of it.
An untidy 15 minutes followed, with no clear cut chances. Both teams were only being able to find the gloves of the opposition’s keeper whilst trying to provide the delivery that would break the deadlock.
Ryan Giles found himself with another wasted opportunity in the 36th minute. Hamer providing yet another accurate through ball following Fankaty Dabo’s interception. Giles got himself into a good position on the right of the box and tried to place one in the top left that ended up straight at Smithies.
The Bluebirds did have the ball in the back of the net in the 38th minute, with Pack’s free kick finding the head of captain Sean Morrison, and deflection following Morrison’s effort deceiving Marosi. However, there was adjudged to have been a foul in favour of the Sky Blues, and the goal didn’t stand.
The first chance after half time fell to Coventry, with Hamer’s header from McCallum’s cross in the 49th minute ended up looping into Smithies’ hands. However, the quick nature of Coventry’s passing which moved the ball from Hamer’s interception in the centre circle to the heading opportunity just in front of the six yard box demonstrated the Sky Blues’ intent.
In the 54th minute, the deadlock was finally broken by Tyler Walker, who demonstrated the prolific nature that led to the Sky Blues signing him despite his lack of Championship experience. With no danger apparent, Joe Ralls received the ball in his own half. However, an appalling pass towards Morrison came up short, with an aware Walker beating Morrison for strength. His first touch set up the angle, allowing him to lift the ball over the onrushing Smithies into the back of the net with his second. Walker had his third goal of the season, and Coventry had the lead.
And Walker could have made it two almost immediately after. He was one on one with Smithies almost immediately after the restart, but his attempted placed shot from just inside of the box went wide, and Cardiff were let off.
Coventry did very well to protect the lead, absorbing the Bluebird’s pressure. The compact nature of the Sky Blues defence meant Cardiff were forced out wide, with the crosses aimed towards Moore and substitute Robert Glatzel causing Marosi no danger.
The scream of yes let out by Mark Robins following the full time whistle indicated straight away how pleased he was with the result. It was hard-earned by the Sky Blues, and the lack of chances for Cardiff after they went behind is testament to the defensive work of Coventry.
Following their victory, Coventry remain in 21st, but further the gap between them and the relegation zone to three points. Cardiff fall down the table to 18th, with the gap between them and the relegation zone reduced to only five points.
Speaking to BBC CWR following his side’s victory, Mark Robins said “I’m delighted with my players, they’ve been brilliant and deserve every bit of credit today.”
Neil Harris was clearly angry and upset with his players whilst speaking to BBC Sport Wales, stating that “It has been a disappointing start to the season… you can hear from my tone of voice my disappointment, we don’t have the points we want and need to improve quickly…Possibly I need to look at changes now.”