Another big game, another big performance from this burgeoning Sky Blues side. Against a Sunderland side that showed, in spells, that they belong in a division higher, Mark Robins’ charged produced an energetic display to prevent the visitors dominating the contest. Jonson Clarke-Harris’ equaliser earned the team a well-deserved point, but a late miss from Conor Chaplin, when clean through on goal, denied the team a famous three points.
A Point Salvaged
While Mark Robins is still yet to win a home game from a losing position in his second spell at the club, he was an unfortunate miss from Conor Chaplin away from doing so against one of the most talented teams we’ve faced over the past 18 months.
There are a number of explanations as to why we have struggled to salvage wins from losing positions under Mark Robins, with the chief one being that the manager tends to be risk-averse in setting the team up and in making changes throughout the game. The approach tends to be predicated on preying on opposition errors rather than swarming teams with spells of pressure. Furthermore, very little about the approach changes once we fell behind in games, except for late desperate substitutions bringing on strikers to play out wide.
Similar could be said about the performance both before and after falling behind in this game, except that it seemed the players took it upon themselves to press further up the pitch and take more risks. It was emblematic of this bolder approach that the equaliser came via Dujon Sterling pressing aggressively up from his unfamiliar left-back berth, causing Sunderland’s defence to dither, before squaring the ball for Jonson Clarke-Harris to sweep home.
Part of the reason why we were able to get back into this game is perhaps because Sunderland didn’t seek to kill the game after going in front, whereas a more pragmatic away side may have sat deeper, wasted time and tried to hit us on the counter-attack.
However, it is a promising sign that we saw a determination from individuals to move up through the gears and cause a side featuring a couple of players who were Premier League regulars two seasons ago genuine problems. In particular, Tom Bayliss is such an asset for this team when he gets on the front foot from the centre of the park, Luke Thomas is a real dynamo down the right flank, and the strike partnership of Jonson Clarke-Harris and Conor Chaplin is dangerously close to clicking in a lethal manner.