The last week has seen Coventry City hit the heights and plummet the depths with vastly contrasting results. The 2-1 win at Bramall Lane was a massive result in City's quest to reach the League One play-offs and the eighth league away win of the season. City put on another impressive away display to clinch the points despite a fierce rearguard action in the second half. The club record for away wins is 10, set under Noel Cantwell in the old Division One in 1969-70; a feat that earned a sixth place finish and qualification for the old UEFA Fairs Cup. No Coventry City side has ever won nine away games in a season but there have been five previous occasions when there have been eight away victories - in 1937-38, 1938-39, 1963-64, 2001-02 & 2003-04. With seven away games remaining there must be a good chance of equalling the club record, if not setting a new record.
In 1969-70 Cantwell's team which featured many high quality players including Willie Carr, Ernie Hunt, Ian Gibson, Bill Glazier, Chris Cattlin and Roy Barry, achieved some amazing away results, especially after having won only three road trips in the previous two seasons. Amongst the grounds they won at were Highbury, White Hart Lane, Derby's Baseball Ground and Molineux (where they clinched the European place). However in a similar vein to this season the team struggled to replicate their away form at Highfield Road, winning nine out of 21 at home.
The win at Bramall Lane raised expectations for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie with Crewe on Tuesday night. Sadly it all went wrong for the Sky Blues and the full house crowd of 31,054 was left frustrated as despite their team have the lion’s share of the play and numerous chances the visitors took advantage of some naive play and racked up an impressive 3-0 win. The odds must be heavily in Crewe's favour now but I'm sure the Sky Blue Army will travel in hope that the deficit can be recovered. The defeat was the team’s biggest home loss since Bristol City won 4-1 at the Ricoh in March 2011.
As expected that crowd set a competition record for a non-final tie, topping the previous record of 29,901 set at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium against MK Dons two years ago. It was also the second largest crowd to watch the Sky Blues at the Ricoh - just 350 odd below the Chelsea crowd in 2009. It was however the largest night home crowd since the West Ham League Cup semi final in 1981. There must have been thousands of City fans paying their first visit to the stadium for some years. Many people have commented that whenever the club get a big crowd they fail to perform and the statistics bear that out. Last week I listed the top eight gates at the Ricoh and of these, plus the Crewe game, City have won only one, drawn three and lost five. What has to be borne in mind however is that the biggest gates were almost always against clubs from a higher division or from near the top of the same division.
31,407 v Chelsea (FA Cup) 2008-09. Lost 0-2
30,154 v Crewe (JPT) 2012-13. Lost 0-3
28,184 v Leeds United 2010-11. Lost 2-3
28,163 v West Brom (FA Cup) 2007-08. Lost 0-5
28,120 v Middlesbrough (FA Cup) 2005-06. Drew 1-1
27,992 v Wolves 2007-08. Drew 1-1
27,212 v Birmingham 2006-07. Lost 0-1
26,856 v Wolves 2005-06. Won 2-0
26,723 v Leicester 2005-06. Drew 1-1
It hasn't always been the case that the team don’t perform in front of a big crowd however. In 1967 a record Highfield Road crowd of 51,452 saw the Sky Blues beat Wolves and in 1963 a crowd approaching that figure saw Third Division City knock Second Division Sunderland out of the Cup.