Coventry finished their home campaign on Saturday with a nondescript defeat to a Leyton Orient side who learned their victory came in vein in regards to their play-off push. Dean Cox’s goal on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Coventry was the only thing separating two equal looking sides. Despite the Sky Blues advantage in terms of chances created the Orient showed the greater cutting edge and were largely deserving of a victory. For Orient, it was an opportunity to celebrate a season that has been play-off failure notwithstanding pleasing for fans and players alike. For Coventry, the unsure nature of their attackers in the final third mirrored the uncertainty surrounding the club’s immediate future particularly surrounding the club’s continued usage of the Ricoh Arena.
Coventry started the game off looking confident enough on the ball, John Fleck especially stood out, mixing an ability to both pick the right pass and dart pass onrushing Orient shirts in a packed midfield. Fleck was often the first port of call from keeper Joe Murphy, with the instruction from Manager Steven Pressley that the Sky Blues should be looking to with the ball on the floor. As the game wore on though Orient were able to display their own midfield’s passing ability, Martin Rowlands looked solid at the base of the midfield and his distribution helped the O’s move further up the pitch. Orient’s front three of Kevin Lisbie, Lee Cook and Moses Odubajo, supported by Dean Cox worked well together and were able to fashion decent opportunities whenever they came their way.
Spurred on by some free-kicks and Nathan Clarke’s long throw-ins Orient were looking like the most threatening side come the mid-way point of the first-half. Coventry looked more and more like the counter-attacking side with the best chance of the match coming from Franck Moussa receiving the ball after an Orient free-kick, running half the length of the pitch and finding debutant Danny Philliskirk who fluffed his lines. Moussa, criticised for his recent performances was leading Coventry’s main threat on the break and should also have played Carl Baker in for what might have been an opening goal. In the first-half Coventry struggled in the main to force the away team into their own half for sustained spells. It was perhaps ironic then that the only goal of the came when Orient broke, finding right-back Cyrus Christie out of position, and Dean Cox coolly slotted past Joe Murphy in the Coventry goal. The usual pattern of Coventry’s home games this season had occurred and home fans were cursing their luck as shortly after the half-time whistle blew.
The second half was more one-sided than the second, Coventry were spiritedly pushing for an equaliser to send their fans home happy for once this season. Franck Moussa was again looking threatening and penetrative but his poor decision making in the final third meant that Orient were never put to the sword. The main threat though was coming down both flanks, on the left it was through David Bell, a right-footed winger, who received the ball more often than in the first and looked intent on cutting inside and curling the ball into the back of the net (to little effect). On the right Cyrus Christie was rampaging from his right full-back position, able at times to break into the opposition area where either through a lack of options or poor decision making he was unable to make Orient pay. Fleck’s distribution was becoming increasingly long, and inaccurate, as his influence on the game was waning. A change to 4-4-2, with Philliskirk and Steve Jennings the sacrifice for first Cody McDonald and then Callum Wilson, never really offered the threat that manager Pressley must have been hoping for. The front two seemed too disparate in their positioning and approach to the position that when added time came the result never looked in doubt.
The final reflection from a City perspective is whether this performance will mean anything. Yes they looked tidy in position, yes they did pose questions to the opposition defence, but can this be translated into a promotion chase next season or how many of these players will be around to do so come next August? Additionally will these questions be answered at the Ricoh Arena? Orient though will be very pleased with their overall performance, they defended successfully, looked good in possession and their forwards linked very well. Furthermore a chance of a 7th place finish is a great achievement for a side who looked to be lower mid-table pre-season and started off so poorly.