Sunday, 5 February 2012

Jim's column 28.1.12

As of today Coventry City's away form is the worst in the whole Football League including the Premiership. They are the only one of the 92 teams not to have won on their travels this season and with the precarious position the club are in it is a situation that has to change for the Sky Blues to have any chance of avoiding relegation to League One.

Kevin Halls raised the point in an email this week, asking what is City's worst season for away form and whether they have gone a whole season without a win on the road. It has only happened once since City joined the Football League in 1919 and you don't have to go back very far - in 1999-2000 CiTy failed to win away in the Premiership and even lost at already doomed Watford on the final day. Ironically this was the season that the team, which included Gary McAllister, Robbie Keane and the Moroccans, Hadji and Chippo, and we're dubbed the entertainers for their excellent home displays and results. Their away record that season was w0 d5 L12 and this was the only season since the club joined the League in 1919 when they have failed to win a single away game. City were the only league side to fail to win away that season and only the second Premiership side to draw a blank on the road (Leeds were the first in 1992-93).

Their have been four occasions when they have won just once on the road.

1924-25.     W1. D3. L17
1931-32.     W1. D6. L14
1967-68.     W1. D10 L10
1990-91.     W1. D5. L13

To put those stats in context, 1924-25 was the season City were relegated from Division Two and the only win didn't come until April when they won 2-1 at Clapton Orient. 1931-32 was the season that Clarrie Bourton set the league and club scoring record of 49 league goals but despite his prowess in front of goal City managed just one win, at Gillingham (3-1) in October. 1967-68 was City's first season in the top flight and the solitary away win didn't arrive until the first weekend in February when an Ernie Hannigan goal earned a single goal victory at the Hawthorns. City were bottom at the time but the win sparked a run of four successive home wins that proved decisive in the successful relegation battle (maybe there is an omen there). 1990-91 was the season that John Sillett was replaced by Terry Butcher. City's only away victory came in October, just before John's untimely exit, at Bramall Lane, 1-0 thanks to a Brian Borrows penalty.

To summarise then, the worst season for away form was 1999-2000 with no wins but things were worse than today in 1924-25 and 1967-68 when the first wins didn't arrive until April and February respectively.

Saturday's victory made it three home league wins in a row for the first time for almost two years. In February 2010 Chris Coleman's team notched wins over Nottm Forest (1-0), QPR (1-0) and Scunthorpe (2-1) to briefly suggest they may make the play-offs only to dash the fans' hopes by failing to win any of the next 11 games. To find the last time a City team won four home league games in a row you have to go back to 2006-07 when Iain Dowie's arrival sparked four successive home victories. To repeat my comment about away form, promotion form at home is essential to avoid the drop.

Finally the Sky Blues managed three goals in a game for the first time this season and the first since the away win at Portsmouth last April. You have to go back to October 2010 for the last instance at home when they defeated Barnsley 3-0. Barnsley are due at the Ricoh next month and we have to hope that the Sky Blues can continue their excellent home record against the Tykes who haven't won in Coventry in 23 visits since 1924 and have lost eight of their last nine here.

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