An early second half brace from Ivan Toney saw Coventry City slip to their third Championship defeat of the season at promotion hopefuls Brentford.
The Sky Blues were on the back foot for much of a testing first half at the brand new Brentford Community Stadium where the home side got at them from the first whistle – testing Marko Marosi with barely 30 seconds on the clock.
Although Mark Robins’s men managed to keep a clean sheet to the break, the Bees’ star striker struck twice in quick success from the restart to pretty much put the game beyond City’s reach.
Here’s five things we learned from the result and performance.
Mark Robins changed his tried and trusted box midfield formation for the first time in several months by playing two strikers from the start at Brentford.
Unfortunately it didn’t exactly go to plan after Tyler Walker tested positive for Covid-19 the day before, having done all the tactical preparation for the game in which he was due to start for the first time alongside Matty Godden.
His forced absence, which will see him miss the next two games against Swansea City and Blackburn Rovers due to isolating for nine more days, resulted in Amadou Bakayoko stepping up to fill in.
Robins admitted that, having done so much detailed work, it was too late to rip up the game plan and start again.
But come an hour in, and with his side 2-0 down, he did just that and reverted to playing with a lone striker with Jordan Shipley going on to offer a supporting midfield role.
City had barely laid a glove on the Bees in the first half – a fact backed up by the stats of just two attempts on goal and only one of those on target.
However, come the final whistle those figures look a lot more respectable with a total of ten attempts, five of which were on target.
No-one can fault Bakayoko for his work ethic. The athletic centre-forward chased and pressed the entire time he was on the pitch but, sadly, just wasn’t able to impose himself enough during the time he was on the field.
To be fair to the big man, he was up against a very good Brentford side with an incredibly organised and disciplined defence that doesn’t give away goals lightly.
But you can’t help thinking that it was maybe an opportunity missed for the player to grab his chance with a more influential impact on the game.
It’s been said many times that he has all the raw ingredients but, and he’s not alone in this, he still has plenty of work to do to prove himself at this new and hugely demanding level.
One player who did manage to achieve that was Sam McCallum who showed his versatility and plenty of enterprise when he went on for Josh Pask in the right wing-back slot on the hour.
The Norwich City loan player got forward well and proved he can provide just as good a threat on the opposite flank to his normal left side in a much-improved second half from the Sky Blues, who were already trailing 2-0 at that point.
His eye-catching contribution couldn’t have come at a better time following the news that first choice Fankaty Dabo is nursing a back/hamstring injury that forced him to sit out Saturday’s game.
Along with Gus Hamer in the middle of the park, Dabo was a huge miss in terms of his attacking presence on a difficult day for the Sky Blues, particularly in the first 60 minutes.
To be fair to Pask – a centre-back by trade – he was out of his comfort zone but gave his all in testing circumstances until he was replaced by McCallum, who might just have claimed the role of Dabo’s understudy.
How quickly things can change in football!
Mark Robins revealed on Friday morning ahead of the 5pm domestic transfer deadline that the club had received some interest in Max Biamou in recent weeks and, although not quite the right fit, there was a possibility that the striker could leave the club to help balance the books.
A move, however, didn’t transpire and just 24 hours later the absence of Tyler Walker opened the door for the Frenchman who returned to the matchday squad, named among the subs.
Unfortunately the striker didn’t get on the pitch in a difficult game at the Brentford Community Stadium, but it’s a step closer to the action and with games coming thick and fast the player will, no doubt, be hoping to get his chance to impress at the highest level he’s played at in his career.
Kastaneer in from the cold
Gervane Kastaneer is another player who has come in from the cold.
City have been actively looking for a move for the Dutch forward all summer after he appeared surplus to requirements after failing to settle at the club following his 2019 move.
He was also a surprise name on the bench and his mere presence suggests he must be getting closer to the levels Robins requires of his players.
Whether he gets another chance remains to be seen but it would be some story if the powerful 24-year-old finally stepped forward and showed the qualities that attracted him to the club in the first place.