Coventry City's defensive record in League Two this season has been very impressive. After the 2-2 draw with Luton on Tuesday night the Sky Blues had conceded 30 goals in 36 games - seven better than Mansfield, the next best in League Two – an average of 0.83 goal per game. Only League One clubs Wigan (23) and Shrewsbury (26) have conceded less in the whole Football League. In addition 14 of City's 36 games have resulted in clean sheets for City.
These spectacular statistics have prompted several questions from readers about the records with regard to goals conceded. The club record for the lowest goals conceded is 38 and was set in 1970-71 under Noel Cantwell. That was a pretty dire season for spectators as the team only scored 37 goals (the second lowest ever). That was a 42-game season and an average of 0.90 per game. The lowest for a 46-game season was 47 (1.02 per game) in 1958-59 when City finished second in the Fourth Division. I would be surprised if the current team didn't break the 46-game record and with a bit of luck they might beat the all-time record as well!
That great season in Division Four 60 years ago also saw a clean sheet count of 18, equalling the record set in 1938-39. Several City teams have gone close in the modern era with Cantwell's 1970-71 keeping 17 with Bill Glazier between the sticks in all but one game. In 2001-02, City's first season outside the Premiership, the team kept 16 clean sheets shared between Magnus Hedman, Tim Flowers and Chris Kirkland. Then, two years ago, under Tony Mowbray, the team kept 16 clean sheets with Reice Charles-Cook (13) and Lee Burge (3) in the 'keeper's jersey.
The 1938-39 team, arguably City's best team until the 1967 promotion team, kept 18 clean sheets in finishing fourth in the old Second Division. In those days the defence was considered to be the goalkeeper, two full-backs and three half-backs. That season four of the six defenders played in virtually every game: Goalkeeper Bill Morgan (41 games), Jack Astley (42), George Mason (42) and Billy Frith (39). Left back Walter Metcalf played 34 games before injury kept him out of the run-in while left-half Harry Boileau played 28 games. It was a tough, uncompromising defence that conceded only 45 goals as City missed out on promotion by four points with Morgan setting the club record for the 'keeper with the most clean sheets in a season (17).
The 1958-59 team, managed by the 1938 player, Billy Frith, also kept 18 clean sheets. Three defenders, captain Roy Kirk an ever-present, George Curtis (43 games) and left-back Lol Harvey (41) played in virtually every league game. Left-half Ron Farmer (26) was an ever present after joining the club in November and right-half Brian Nicholas (26) was the regular right-half until injured in December at which point Mick Kearns (32) and later Frank Austin (14) took over. The goalkeeping situation was fluid that campaign. Veteran Jim Sanders played the first ten games (4 clean sheets) before breaking his leg. Coach Alf Wood came out of retirement to take the jersey and kept five clean sheets in 10 games before Arthur Lightening arrived from Nottingham Forest in November. Arthur was ever-present until the end of the season keeping nine clean sheets in 25 games.
The other interesting statistic of this season is that, to date, the club have not conceded more than two goals in any league game. Luton were the eighth side to score twice against the Sky Blues but no team has managed more. City have never gone through a whole season without conceding more than two goals in a game! Another record looming?