Running on reserves…
Whilst Coventry were losing to Richmond on Saturday, in National Two (North) near neighbours Broadstreet were entertaining Macclesfield at home. The game ended 37-53 and means ‘Street have now lost all their opening four league fixtures. A worrying two weeks for Coventry but nothing compared to the first month of the new season for Broadstreet, who lie firmly anchored to the foot of the table with just one point from the maximum 20. It’s always sad to see local teams struggling, but Broadstreet’s present plight could also have an impact on Coventry’s season too.
If confidence is low at Coventry, it must be rock bottom at Broadstreet. And this is not healthy for us given a number of our players are presently getting much needed match time with them. The ‘Street line-up shows Foreman, Stout and Le Roux all started and Liam Munroe was on the bench, coming on in the latter stages to score. All well and good, or not-so-good, given the result. These players are regaining fitness or just awaiting a the call to the match day squad and ideally Cov would want them to be part of a winning team, confidence soaring, ready to play their part. This probably isn’t the case at the moment. (Incidentally, ex-Cov players Lewis Barker, Macclesfield, and Freemantle (?), Pearl and Gregson, Broadstreet, were also on the teamsheets)
Scott Morgan has remained loyal, for the mostpart, to the players who have started the last couple of games, especially in the backs. The backrow has changed, with Woodburn and Wright coming in for Oliver and Molitika, although Oilver’s absence is a mystery to me – injured or ‘rested’? The old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ makes good sense, but when it is clearly broken, then it’s time to do the repairs. But what options does Morgan actually have..?
The injury list clearly doesn’t help, although James Tincknell should be close to a return and should add more penetration to the midfield. Having said last week that I thought Cov would be alright without Scott Hamilton’s presence on the pitch, he showed when he came on against Richmond just how valuable his experience is and as such Morgan might well decide to reinstate him against Plymouth. Otherwise the backs once again seem to pick themselves…Weightman would return were he fit, but with no updates from the club, it’s unclear if this is a possibility so Sam Baker looks set to retain his place, albeit temporarily. Calls on the ‘board for Jones and Evans to be rested seem premature, to say the least.
Injuries to Preece, Thomas, Parkins (illness?) and Gareth Turner mean the options in the forwards are
less clear. Presumably, Preece would be a given if fit and Thomas or Roberts would partner Poole. At No. 8 both Liam Munroe and Jacques Le Roux look to be playing themselves into contention at Broadstreet and could yet get the call; they certainly offer the coaches alternatives in the back row – a fit JLR would be my choice. With Daniel Carpo soon to join us after the World Cup, things are looking better in this area. His rampaging runs create the gaps for others to work off. Pailor would be one of the first players I’d pencil into the team.
In the front row I think I’d give Devlin Hope a starting place and put Matt Price on the bench. Price is Cov through and through and always gives of his best, but he can be a little hot-headed and already has amassed three yellows this season (including friendlies). That must be a concern for the coaches. Hope seems to be more prominent around the park and whilst there are concerns in the line-out, neither he not Price seem consistently to hit their mark. If fit, I’d have Parkins and Brown as the two props, but the mysteries of the front row remain just that, mysteries to me.
By my reckoning Cov have a squad of around 38, but, with injuries, in reality the coaches have far fewer from which to choose. I’ve been impressed with the way that no one has blamed the last two defeats on the number of injuries, instead blaming the performance on the pitch. However, injuries have played their part and will continue to do so for a while yet. These are difficulties and things would be made a little easier if Coventry had a full squad to select from, but as they don’t it’s incumbent on all those who are involved this week to come together and sort things out. With no mention of dual registered players being brought in, we make do with what we’ve already got. The squad is more than good enough even with the injuries and even though confidence might have taken a knock, Plymouth are eminently beatable. Home advantage, a supportive crowd and a good week’s preparation is all that’s needed.
Coventry are a match for anyone in this league. Let’s get behind them!