After promotion from League Two in 2017-18 this was a season of consolidation for the Sky Blues and everyone can feel satisfied with an eighth place finish. With a little more consistency, especially at home, it could have been better however. In true Sky Blue fashion the team saved their best performances for the big teams, taking four points off Barnsley (and ending their unbeaten start), Peterborough and Sunderland, and six off Charlton. The outstanding away performances at Luton and Portsmouth were worthy of a higher placed team. On the flip side, relegated Scunthorpe did the double over City who also failed to beat AFC Wimbledon and Bristol Rovers home or away as well as losing the away games at three of the four relegated clubs. Whilst a number of the poorer sides raised their games at the Ricoh, City were often guilty of failing to break down stubborn defences.
Many of the promotion side adapted to the higher division but several slipped out of contention through the season, most notably Michael Doyle who left for Notts County in January. The newcomers, a combination of young loan signings and permanent purchases generally performed well. Loanees Thomas, Sterling and Enobakhere were outstanding and the recruitment department requires praise for these. Of the permanent buys, one, Ogogo, failed to impress whilst Junior Brown could not hold his place against young challengers, especially Mason. Of the new forwards Hiwula got amongst the goals but the jury is still out on Bakayoko and Chaplin who were both inconsistent.
More youngsters forced their way into the manager's thoughts without any one cementing a place like Bayliss and Shipley had done in the previous campaign. The signs are that young players like Sam McCallum, Morgan Williams, Jordon Thompson, Zain Westbrooke and others from the successful under 23 squad will be knocking on the first team door next season. There was great progress from Dom Hyam and Liam Kelly this season. Hyam deservedly swept the majority of the Player of the Year awards and Kelly, who came tentatively back from injury, blossomed in the New Year after being given the captaincy and ended the season impressively.
Finally, we shouldn't forget long term injury victims Jodi Jones and Max Biamou. To use a well-trodden cliché, having them back will be like signing two new players. Both have a lot to prove at League One level.
Games: Coventry City played 51 competitive games, 46 league, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup and 3 Football League Trophy (Checkatrade Trophy).
Points: The Sky Blues gathered 65 league points during the season – ten points less than 2017-18 but still the third best haul in the last 17 years.
Home Form: 9 wins, 7 draws, 7 losses. After last season's 13 home wins this was a disappointing home campaign with only 34 points gained. The form against lower placed clubs was poor with Scunthorpe, Rochdale, Oxford, Blackpool and Burton all winning at the Ricoh in addition to the high-flying Portsmouth and Luton. Only one team – Blackpool – won by more than one goal, the Seasiders winning 2-0.
Away Form: 9 wins, 5 draws, 10 losses. Another great season on the road and the third highest total of away wins in the club's history. Three bogeys ended – the first ever win at Rochdale, first victory at Bradford since 1959 and a first win at Sunderland since 1977. The team went six games unbeaten between the Plymouth loss in January until the defeat at Portsmouth at Easter, four wins and two draws.
Wins: In total therefore, 18 league victories were recorded – the third highest in the last 17 seasons.
Biggest win: The biggest league win of the season was the 3-0 home win over Walsall in February.
Biggest defeat: The 0-3 defeat at Fleetwood was the heaviest league defeat of the season. Arsenal's under 21 team won by the same score at the Ricoh in the EFL Trophy.
Goals for: The goals for total of 54 was 10 less than the previous season. The best run of consecutive scoring league goals was eight and came in City's excellent run in February and March. The team never went more than one league game without scoring in league games. A neutral goal difference was recorded for only the second time in the club's history (i.e. Goals scored equals goals conceded)
Goals against: City conceded 54 league goals, seven more than in 2017-18 but still the third lowest since the club left the Premiership in 2001. The team kept eleven clean sheets in the league. Lee Burge kept seven clean sheets, David Stockdale two and Liam O'Brien two.
Final position: The final position of 8th meant that for the first time City have finished in the top eight in successive seasons since the 1960s. Despite threatening to finish in the top six in the final weeks of the season City were never in the top six places at any time during the season.
Leading scorers: Jordy Hiwula was leading scorer with 13 goals, 12 in the league , and one in the EFL Trophy. After McNulty's goal glut last season it sounds a poor return but he would have led the scoring charts in all of the six seasons between 2006-12. Conor Chaplin with eight goals (all in the league) was runner up. Thirteen different City players were on the score-sheet during the season. Michael Doyle managed one goal (against Accrington) before leaving for Notts County and at the age of 37 years 119 days became the third oldest City scorer of all time behind Gary McAllister and Dennis Wise.
Doubles: City achieved four doubles- over Charlton, Southend, Bradford City and (for the second season running) Wycombe. Four teams beat City home and away: Scunthorpe, Portsmouth, Burton and Blackpool. City have lost their last six games against Scunthorpe – we're glad to see the back of them!
Appearances: For the eighth season running no outfield player was an ever present in the league – the last to do so was Richard Keogh in 2010-11. Loanee Luke Thomas started the most (41) and also came off the bench twice. He was followed by Lee Burge (40), Tom Bayliss (37+1 sub), Dujon Sterling (37+1), Dominic Hyam (37+1) and Jordan Willis (36+2). When all competitive games are included Thomas (42+2) pips Jordy Hiwula (39+4).
Players used: 32 players were used in league games (three more than 2017-18) and further seven appeared only in cup games (a club record, reflecting the trend to use weakened sides in the EFL Trophy and League Cup). Of the 39 players, 22 made their debuts during the season and four made only one appearance (in the EFL Trophy games). Five players only appeared as substitues, Charlie Wakefield, Jordan Ponticelli, Jack Burroughs, Billy Stedman and Dexter Walters. Five loan players were used. In addition to the 32 players used, three more, Corey Addai, Declan Drysdale and David Bremang, sat on the bench as substitutes but were not used. Addai has now sat on the bench 50 times without making a first team appearance, more than any other player. At Cheltenham Johnny Ngandu (aged 17 years 19 days) became the sixth youngest City player to start a competitive game.
In the 18 seasons since falling out of the top flight 333 players have made their City debut at an average of more than 18 per season. Compare that with 313 players making their City debut in the previous 41 years from 1960 to 2001 at an average of 7 per season.
In August Junior Brown became the 1000th player to have represented the club in competitive games since the club joined the league in 1919 and the last debutant, loannee goalkeeper, David Stockdale became the 1016th.
Home-grown players: Of the 39 players used 16 of them were home grown products of the Academy. It is now more than eight years that a City team did not include a home-grown player.
Records: Michael Doyle left the club in January and his 24 appearances took his total appearances for City to 373, seventh in the all-time appearances chart and one of only 10 players to play more than 350 games for the club. Jordan Willis with 208 games is now 44th on the club's list, one behind Dave Bennett. Doyle and Willis are the only two players to have reached 200 games outside the Premiership since we were relegated in 2001. Lee Burge is the only other player who has topped 100 appearances. He has now made 160 appearances and is 75th on the all-time chart, level with 1930s goalkeeper Bill Morgan and 1970s full-back Wilf Smith, and ninth in the goalkeeper's list having overtaken 'keepers such as Joe Murphy, Magnus Hedman, Kieran Westwood and Bob Wesson this season.
Substitutes: Amadou Bakayoko made the most substitute appearances (13 all in the league). Jordy Hiwula and Luke Thomas were the most substituted players (16 times each). Six goals were scored by substitutes: Bakayoko two at Charlton, Jones at Southend, Clarke-Harris at Wycombe, Shipley at Luton and Chaplin at Sunderland . Bakayoko is only the seventh City substitute to score two in a game.
Average attendance: Home 12,362 (2017-18 9,255), up 33% and the fifth highest in League One. Away 9,025 (2017-18 5,211), up 72%, the sixth highest in the division. If away fans are stripped out, City's average home following was 11,161 up 32% from 8,434.
Highest home attendance: The biggest official league crowd was 26,741 for the Gillingham Community game in February but the actual attendance was more like 18,000 with many free tickets not being used. The Gillingham game apart the top three attendances were – 16,407 v Sunderland, 14,044 v Oxford and 13,549 v Shrewsbury, with the latter having the highest number of home supporters (12,366) of any home game.
Lowest home attendance: The lowest league crowd of the season was 9,220 for the Fleetwood evening game in March -one of only three sub 10,000 league crowds. In the EFL Trophy there were two low attendances including 1,341 for the game with Forest Green – only three more than the record low for a home game in the competition.
Away followings: For league games City’s away following averaged 1,315 (2016/17 1,268), an increase of 3%. The best league following of the season was 2,683 at Sunderland, one of the longest away trips of the season. In the FA Cup City took almost 2,665 to Walsall. The smallest was 421 for the evening game at Fleetwood in November. Sunderland brought the most fans (4,897) to the Ricoh in September – the biggest away following since 2012. At the other extreme, Fleetwood brought only 62 fans to the league game whilst Arsenal (183) and Forest Green (85) bought miniscule followings in the EFL Trophy.
Highest away attendance: The biggest away league crowd was 36,134 at Sunderland , the largest league crowd to watch the Sky Blues since 2010 when over 39,000 watched them at St James' Park, Newcastle.
Lowest away attendance: The smallest away league crowd was 2,570 at Fleetwood. There were three further crowds under 4,000, at Blackpool, Rochdale and Accrington. The meaningless EFL trophy game at Cheltenham was watched by 1,296.
Won from behind: (1) In league games City only came from behind to win once, at Charlton. On six occasions the team came from behind to get a draw: Sunderland (h), Accrington (h), Peterborough (h), AFC Wimbledon (h) Luton (a) and Barnsley (a). At Barnsley they twice came from behind to draw, the first time a Coventry team have done this since 2013. Nine points were won from losing positions, three less than last season.
Lost from in front: (4) City lost four games after scoring first – Scunthorpe (h), Walsall (a), Plymouth (a) and Portsmouth (a). On four occasions City took the lead only to be pegged back for draws (twice against Gillingham). Fifteen points were lost from leading positions compared to 4 the previous campaign.
Best run: The Sky Blues best run was six unbeaten in October and November. Following defeat at Portsmouth they won five games and drew one. They also recorded five consecutive league victories – the first time a Coventry side has achieved that since 1998.
Worst run: The best run turned into the worst run with November and December seeing the Sky Blues go seven league games without a win. The run of five defeats and two draws was ended with a win over Charlton on Boxing Day. That was the worst run since 2016-17. When Cup games are included the run was nine games.
Hat-tricks: (0) No hat-tricks were recorded for the Sky Blues with Bakayoko (at Charlton) recording the only brace.
Opposing hat-tricks: (0) No opposing player scored a hat-trick but three scored braces: O'Connor (Bradford a), Leahy (Walsall a) and Ruben Lameiras (Plymouth a).
Former Players: This season two former players scored against City. Nathan Delfouneso for Blackpool (h) and Lameiras who was the first former player to score two against City since Leon Clarke for Bury in 2016 and only the sixth of all-time.
Own goals: For City: (1) John Mousinho of Oxford was credited with an own goal in the away league game.
Own goals: By City: (1) Tom Bayliss was credited with an own goal at Burton.
Penalties: For City: (6) Five scored, one missed. Bakayoko, Chaplin (2), Clarke-Harris and Enobakhere were successful but Chaplin missed at Fleetwood.
Penalties: Against City: (3) Three opposition players netted from the spot - Taylor (Charlton a), Leahy (Walsall a) and Eaves (Gillingham h). No penalties were missed by opponents.
Fastest Goal scored: Jonson Clarke-Harris scored in the second minute at Bradford in October.
Fastest Goal conceded: Jake Jervis of AFC Wimbledon scored after 80 seconds in the home game in January.
Red cards: Coventry: (1): Bright Enobakhere was the only Coventry player to receive a red card (for two yellows) in the home game with Burton.
Red cards: Opponents: (4) Jamie Ness (Plymouth h), Simon Cox (Southend a), George Miller (Bradford a) and Nat Knight-Percival (Bradford h). All were dismissed for two yellow cards.
FA Cup: After the FA Cup heroics of 2017-18 City fell at the first hurdle for the third time in five years, losing at Walsall.
Bookings: Luke Thomas won the award for most bookings, 8. In a very good season disciplinary-wise, no player was suspended for racking up bookings. Tom Davies was suspended at the start of the season for a red card offence in the play-offs and Enobakhere was suspended for his red card.
Television: There were four live televised games for the club, Oxford (a), Sunderland (h, Luton (a) and Portsmouth (a). The defeat against Pompey was City's first on live television since December 2016 – a run of nine games without defeat.
Youngest team: At Cheltenham in the EFL Trophy the club put out their youngest ever team with an average age of 21 years & 33 days and after two of the three substitutions the average age fell below 21. In the league City regularly put out the youngest team in the division and in January against Wimbledon the starting XI had an average age of 22 years 158 days and was the youngest for a league game since November 1982 when the average age of Dave Sexton's starting XI at Liverpool was 22 years & 33 days. The youngest league starting XI was 21 years and 58 days at Manchester City in 1980.
Captains: City had six different captains during the season which I believe is a club record. Michael Doyle, Liam Kelly and David Meyler took the armband in league games with Meyler becoming the first loan player to captain the club. Tom Davies was skipper at Oxford in the League Cup tie. In addition Abu Ogogo and Morgan Williams captained the team in EFL games with Williams becoming the first player to captain the team before he had appeared in a league game as well as the youngest captain in the club's history.
Game of the season: The 5-4 win at Sunderland has to be the game of the season. It was the sixth time City have been on the winning side in a 5-4 game and the first away from home. The Sky Blues ended Sunderland's 23 game unbeaten run and inflicted the Black Cats first home defeat of the season. On top of that it was the first time that Sunderland had conceded five in a home game since 1981 when on Bryan Robson’s debut Manchester United had won 5-1 with a young Nick Pickering in the Black Cats team. It was also City's first win at Sunderland since January 1977.
The other record was that it was the first time in a Coventry game where there were nine different scorers, equalling a Football League record. It has been done on forty or so previous occasions but never in a Sky Blues game. Our record was eight which happened in 1950 in a 5-4 defeat at Southampton and in the 5-4 home win over Norwich in 1977. The last time five different City players scored in a game was quite recent - in 2016 in the 6-0 over Bury when Stokes, Cargill, Maddison, Fleck and Armstrong (2) were on target.
Hoodoos: In addition to the ending of the Sunderland hoodoo, the Sky Blues also recorded their first ever win at Rochdale – at the 10th attempt. Bradford's Valley Parade hasn't been a happy ground for City over the years and the 4-2 win in October was the first win there since 1959 whilst City won at Southend for first time since 2006.
With many thanks to Paul O'Connor and Geoff Moore.