Coventry v Exeter: Jones and Reid the key

Jones key for Cov –

Coventry City’s strategy this season is to keep their own house in order from the start, take a clean sheet into the interval and slowly grow in control.

They have achieved that first objective in six of their eight League Two games and each of their four encounters at the Ricoh. Equally though, they have scored just two first half goals – only Morecambe have scored fewer.

The problem with waiting 45 minutes to an hour to show attacking ambition is that the team is banking on things going right in the final third in a shorter time-frame. Against Newport, the goalkeeper made some good saves in that last half hour and at Chesterfield, Marc McNulty missed two good chances. Had they attacked from the off in those games, there would have been more time for quality to shine through.

Nonetheless, the Sky Blues now have an opportunity to close the gap to the top three when they host Exeter City. The Grecians will test the West Midlanders’ aptitude for clean sheets, having scored 13 goals in their last five. They have coped superbly well with the departures of Ollie Watkins and David Wheeler to Championship clubs, the front three of Liam McAlinden, Reuben Reid and Lee Holmes combining seamlessly.

Reid has scored more goals (seven) than any other player in League Two this season. He bagged two of them in a 3-1 win at Forest Green, where he showed a true poacher’s instinct, retreating into space when the ball came into the box before hammering home. Michael Doyle and Liam Kelly have provided excellent defensive protection for Coventry so far this year and, in the defensive phases, they may be relied upon to pick Reid up when he makes those kind of runs.

The 29-year-old striker as well as the men who flank him are given the platform to perform by the likes of Lloyd James and Jordan Tillson. Paul Tisdale might be tempted to instruct one of those men to close down Jodi Jones, who has been Coventry’s brightest performer this term. Jones has scored three of his four goals with his left foot, normally cutting in from the right. The trick for Exeter will be to show him on the outside onto his right foot, because as soon as any team allows a player of his quality to cut inside, problems occur.

Shackling Jones will be key to Exeter’s chances of an eighth win of the season. Coventry meanwhile need to handle Reid – and be a little more adventurous from the outset.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 2-1