It seems having to play home matches 40 miles away from their own city has not had as much of a detrimental effect upon the Coventry City as many would have expected. The Sky Blues have enjoyed a brilliant start to the season, sitting in 2nd place after nine games, without a single league loss to their name. Only they - and top of the league Ipswich Town - are yet to lose a League One game this season. Doncaster Rovers aren’t doing too badly themselves either. After reaching the play-offs last season, Donny are well placed to match that feat once again. They currently occupy 7th position with at least one game in hand on all the teams above them. With both sides making such a good start to the EFL League One campaign, this fixture could turn out be an excellent spectacle.
Having only conceded nine goals in the league so far, Coventry boast one of the best defensive records in the division. One man who has been pivotal in this is goalkeeper Marko Marosi. Interestingly, the Slovakian stopper was released by Doncaster at the end of last season after spending the majority of his five years with club on the periphery of the first team, albeit after turning down a new contract. With Coventry giving him a run in the side, Marosi will no doubt be keen to show new and previous employers that this was the right move for him.
Looking to impress
A new-found hero for Coventry has come in the form of loanee Liam Walsh. After joining the club on a season-long, the Liverpudlian made a real impression as he struck a 93rd minute winner in a 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon last week in only his third appearance for the club. Walsh progressed through the ranks at Everton but was never given a chance in the first team. He hasn’t found many opportunities at senior level since his move to Bristol City either. Therefore, Walsh will be out to impress this season and prove he has the potential to perform at a higher level.
Coventry City are not short of talent when it comes to strikers. Possibly their most exciting player in this position is Matt Godden. The 28-year-old joined the club in the summer after a spell with Peterborough, where he only spent one season. The Sky Blues’ signing of Godden was a real statement of intent towards their promotion challenge. After scoring four goals this season so far across all competitions, he might be proving that it was a good investment. Godden has proved he is a real danger in the lower leagues and Doncaster will have to be wary of him on Saturday.
Quite like Coventry, Doncaster Rovers have a mean defensive record. Only seven strikes have made their way into the Donny goal. At the heart of that defence is Tom Anderson. Beginning his career at Burnley, Anderson was sent out on loan year-in year-out. Nine loan spells later, he joined Doncaster Rovers in 2018 after spending half of the previous season at the Keepmoat, in what turned out to be his final loan from Turf Moor. He has started every league game for Donny so far and manager Darren Moore obviously sees him as an integral part of the team. With this level of faith shown in him, Anderson will want to keep another clean sheet this weekend.
A big year
Prior to the beginning of the season, I predicted one Doncaster Rovers player would have a big year ahead of him. This man was Kieran Sadlier. Following a failed spell with a couple of English teams, Sadlier moved to Irish team Sligo Rovers where his performances really started to catch the eyes of many teams. A spell at fellow Irish team Cork City later and the midfielder returned to England to join Doncaster in late 2018. Although he was not used as a key player in the second half of last season, Donny are starting to realise the importance Sadlier can have on the team. One example of this came in the second match of the season, when Sadlier scored a late equaliser at Rochdale to salvage a point, showing he can step up when needed. With three goals to his name already from midfield, Sadlier will be a real threat to the Coventry defence.
Old head, fresh legs
When discussing Doncaster Rovers, one player who cannot be omitted is club legend James Coppinger. After joining the club in 2004, the attacking midfielder has made over 600 appearances for the club and despite turning 38 this year, Coppinger is proving he still has a lot to offer the club. Along with Sadlier, the midfielder netted last week against Peterborough United in a 2-0 win. Furthermore, he has added another two goals to his Doncaster tally this season and Darren Moore will be hoping that he can continue to put in good performances when called upon in their bid to reach the Championship.
Coventry City vs Doncaster Rovers prediction
I’ll hold my hands up - I didn’t expect either team to be performing as well as they are currently. Coventry have done extremely well to put the issues with their residency to one side and focus on matters on the pitch. Likewise, Doncaster have put the heartbreak of losing in the play-offs last season to the back of their minds and are ready to have another crack at the league. All in all, this will be a good opportunity for both sides to continue their brilliant starts to the season. However, with both sides proving their defensive abilities, this may not be particularly high scoring.
Prediction: Coventry City - 1 Doncaster Rovers - 1