Coventry City 2-1 Rochdale Player Ratings: Dabo and Walsh star

Walsh’s winner –

A fine strike from man-of-the-match Liam Walsh gave Coventry City a 2-1 win over Rochdale, thus furthering the Sky Blues’ promotion hopes. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Coventry City

Marko Marosi – Coventry have enjoyed a significant upgrade in the goalkeeping department this season because, while Marosi can be liable to the occasional error, he is proving a strong shot-stopper and good at distribution. A tad unconvincing from crosses, though. 7

Michael Rose – the defender is not quite as accomplished in possession as advertised when he joined from north of the border but distributed ok here. Guilty of letting Henderson get ahead of him for Rochdale’s goal. 6
Dominic Hyam – the 23-year-old looks a complete centre-back; as well as Hyam’s long range passing ability, he has a real presence about him too and was by far the most convincing of the three defenders. 8
Declan Drysdale – Robins’ switch to three-at-the-back has handed Drysdale an opportunity to establish himself as part of this Coventry team; the EFL debutant was tidy in possession here, but his error that led to a big Rochdale chance may tempt Mark Robins to plump for the more experienced Kyle McFadzean for next week’s trip to Sunderland. 6

Fankaty Dabo – the right wing-back got up and down the flank very well. He tried one or two tricks and flicks to change the direction of play which gave Coventry some forward momentum, as did his proactive passes into forward areas for Shipley and others to run onto. 9
Josh Eccles – making his first EFL start, Eccles was neat on the ball and showed some decent touches. However, he may take some time to adjust to the tempo of the senior game, because he gave the ball away on one or two occasions in the second half, which handed Dale the initiative. 5
Liam Walsh – the former Everton man is an excellent technician and we saw that once again here, where he appeared very composed in possession. Not only did Walsh dictate play, with perhaps more authority than we have seen in previous games, he also had the confidence to dribble half-way up the pitch, deceive a duo of Dale defenders, leave Done on his back-side and place a shot beautifully inside the near-post. 9
Brandon Mason – the former Watford left-back only recovered his place due to Sam McCallum’s injury, but there is a strong case to say that Mason is the better option regardless. He was particularly influential in the first half, when his canny movement and pin-point crosses were key for Cov. 8

Zain Westbrooke – the academy graduate started the season as a central midfielder, but injuries to various attacking players has led to Robins pushing him further forward. Westbrooke was neat and tidy from this advanced role, he retained the ball effectively in the final third and played a delightful diagonal that led to Shipley’s equalizer. Perhaps the one downside to having the 23-year-old just behind the main striker, especially without quick players either side of him, is that when he is too far ahead of his teammates he does not have the running power or perhaps bravery to attack individualistically – but he was always involved in the game and the quality is there to see. 8

Jordan Shipley – since Tom Bayliss left for Preston North End, Shipley has taken on more attacking freedom – and even more so since Hiwula picked up an injury, forcing him to at times move into the front three, albeit normally behind Westbrooke and Bakayoko. Shipley made late runs into dangerous areas and came close with one sublime second half scissor-kick. 8

Amadou Bakayoko – the former Walsall front-man possesses plenty of athleticism but he only felt confident using it when grafting in wide areas which, combined with the absence of an aggressive, goals-driven number 10, meant Coventry rarely had a true, goalscoring presence. Bakayoko got a lot of stick for kicking a low cross back in the same direction from the back-post; while that particular cross did come at him quickly, it highlights that Maxime Biamou and Matt Godden are likely to be right back in contention to start once available. 5

Callum O’Hare (on 88) – brought on to provide fresh energy as Cov dropped deep in the closing stages.


Robert Sanchez – the Brighton loanee was very audacious when it came to distribution. He tried firm passes into meaningful areas; either to wide target man Wilbraham, or centrally to Camps by means of beating the press, but the accuracy was mixed. Possibly at fault for Coventry’s equalizer, but not their second goal. 6

Jimmy Keohane – while at Exeter, Keohane was recognized as a versatile forward, so it is perhaps a marker of the extent of his versatility that he can perform competently at right-back. The Irishman was arguably Rochdale’s most creative player in the first half and, with a 40-year-old ahead of him, he had to lead any type of pressing from the right side of the pitch. 6
Jordan Williams – the utility man has been deployed in central midfield this season and while he at times dropped into defence from that position, he acted generally as a centre-back here. Williams tidied up nicely at times and retained possession in his defensive third better than most of his teammates. 6
Eoghan O’Connell – the former Walsall defender normally loves to carry the ball out from defence, often beyond the half-way line. Here though, Rochdale did not have enough spells of quality possession to enable the Irishman to act as he wishes, so we saw a more restrained performance. 5
Matty Done – in Done’s fist spell at Dale, he was fantastic but, since returning following a stint at Sheffield United, he has lost a yard of pace and not quite been at the same level. The 31-year-old did some decent covering work here and retained possession ok, but still it seems highly likely that Rhys Norrington-Davies will come straight back into the starting XI after returning from international duty. 6

Jimmy Ryan – the deep-lying playmaker can be an accomplished technician at this level, as he has proved with Chesterfield and Fleetwood; here he found accuracy in his passing but not a great deal of quality. At certain points, Ryan joined the defence to form a back-three but, relative to the role, his defensive awareness is limited and that was a problem when the ball ricocheted off him for Coventry’s equalizer. 5
Aaron Morley – came into the midfield with Williams deployed as a centre-back and brought plenty of energy to Dale’s performance. He made several interceptions and did some decent covering work in a spirited display. 6

Aaron Wilbraham – in theory, Wilbraham being deployed out wide would have given him a height advantage over Mason, which may have enabled Rochdale to get a foothold in the opposing half off diagonal balls. In practice, though, the balls from deep into the target man were sometimes lacking in accuracy and, at 40, Wilbraham was rarely able to effectively chase any ball that went astray. The idea was there, but the execution wasn’t. 4
Callum Camps – the academy graduate had a stagnant spell after the likes of Jamie Allen and Matty Lund left Dale, when he struggled with the responsibility of carrying the midfield. Brian Barry-Murphy though has freed Camps up and given him a more advanced, creative role which he seems to be relishing; the 23-year-old produced the cross that led to Henderson’s goal and key passes in behind. 7
Rekeil Pyke – the forward did a lot of work off the ball and was always happy to track back. That aspect of his game was important to maintaining some balance to Dale’s structure, even if Pyke was not massively influential in an attacking sense. 5

Ian Henderson – the centre-forward has scored more third-tier goals than any other player this decade, so it should come as no surprise that he took his back-post chance with real authority. Being deployed as the most advanced central player though, “Hendo” was too often the reference point for long balls, when he is not anywhere near as strong in the air as Wilbraham. 6

Fabio Tavares (on 78) – after staring for Dale’s impressive academy side, Tavares is more than deserving of his opportunity in the senior game; the versatile forward brings a much-needed injection of pace to the attacking play. 7
Calvin Andrew (on 81) – replaced Wilbraham for the finale and instantly put himself about, which influenced the momentum of the context. 7