Coventry City will be looking for promotion straight back to League 1 after relegation from the division last season. Relegation came after only winning nine games all season, with 12 draws and 25 defeats meaning they finished 23rd in the table – 11 points off safety. However, there was some joy for the Sky Blues last season, as they were crowned EFL Trophy champions in April, beating Oxford United 2-1 in the final at Wembley.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of our encounter.
Previous League results and Carabao Cup
A tough seven game pre-season schedule seems to have done the trick for the Sky Blues, as they are the only team left in League 2 with a 100% record
Jodi Jones scored a hat-trick on the opening day, as Coventry eased past Notts County at the Ricoh Arena 3-0.
They followed that up with another clean-sheet, as they edged out Grimsby Town 2-0 at Blundell Park. Marc McNulty scored the opener, somewhat controversially, before Jack Grimmer sealed the win with a header late on.
However, Coventry didn’t fair that well in the Carabao Cup, as Blackburn Rovers knocked them out with a 3-1 win. Duckens Nazon scored the solitary Sky Blues goal, but the League 1 side were too powerful and advanced to the next round.
Team News and Summer Signings
As expected following relegation, Mark Robins has had a full overhaul of his playing staff, signing 11 new players and letting 12 go.
Striker Marc McNulty is one of the more notable incomings, joining from Championship side Sheffield United.
Three other players have joined the club from the Championship, with defenders Jack Grimmer and Dominic Hyam joining from Fulham and Reading respectively; with attacking midfielder Tony Andreu joining from Norwich City.
Current captain Michael Doyle also joined the Sky Blues this summer. Doyle, 36, spent eight years with the club between 2003 – 11 before re-joining the club from Portsmouth in the off-season.
Of the departures, George Thomas is the most notable. The striker, 20, was Coventry’s top-scorer last season, with nine in all, including the winner in the EFL Trophy final. Leicester City was his destination this summer, with the fee due to be decided by a tribunal – around £450k is currently being suggested.
Four players are still looking for clubs after departing the Sky Blues, with others going to League 1, Scottish Premiership and even the Cypriot First Division.
Ahead of our visit, Coventry have concerns over a few players.
Goalkeeper Lee Burge played for the u23’s in mid-week as he recovers from a shoulder injury so could be available, with Ryan Haynes definitely ruled out.
Defender Jordan Willis, forced off last week at Grimsby, will face a late fitness test.
One to watch – Jodi Jones
Goals this season: 3
Previous clubs: Dagenham & Redbridge
Jodi Jones announced himself on the League 2 stage for Coventry with a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Notts County.
That wasn’t Jones’ first taste of the fourth tier, however, as he became Dagenham’s youngest player to make a Football League appearance when he came on as a substitute against Portsmouth in February 2015.
Originally, Jones joined the Sky Blues on an emergency loan on 18th March 2016, before signing permanently that summer for an undisclosed fee. The teenager played 45 times last season, scoring two goals and has also netted this year during pre-season.
SKY BET currently has Jones at 6/1 to score the first goal, with odds of 2/1 to score at any time.
Manager – Mark Robins
Robins took the reins at the Midlands club for the second time in March, leading the club to an EFL Trophy success following the dismissal of Russell Slade.
This season is his tenth as a manager and he has spent that time managing several clubs in the Football League. Robins spent 5 months at Coventry from September 2012 before leaving for Huddersfield Town.
As a player, Robins started out at Manchester United. He is credited with one of the most iconic goals in the club’s history, as his strike saw the Red Devils beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the FA Cup on 7th January 1990– a game which had United lost, the media were speculating that Sir Alex Ferguson would have been sacked.
After his spell at Old Trafford, Robins played for several clubs, including Norwich City, Manchester City and Leicester City.
Stadium – Ricoh Arena
The Ricoh Arena is currently the biggest stadium in League 2, with a capacity of 32,609.
Built in 2005, the Sky Blues have resided there ever since, except for a brief time in 2013/14 when they were forced to play games in Northampton after a dispute with the stadium’s landlords.
Exiles supporters will be housed in the South Stand, behind one of the goals.
Pre-match, County supporters will be allowed to use the Grosvenor Casino, located next to the club shop. However, you must be 18 or over to enter.
The two clubs have met competitively on 41 occasions. Of those meetings, it is Coventry who have the better record, with 18 wins, 7 draws and 16 defeats.
However, the last competitive meeting came in 1961, while the more recent meetings have occurred in friendlies.
In both the 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons, the two clubs met at Spytty Park.
On 29th July 2014, an Ismail Yakubu header gave County a 1-0 victory, before the Sky Blues exacted revenge on 23rd July 2016 with their own 2-0 victory – George Thomas and Jordan Willis with the goals.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistant referee 1: Darren Cann
Assistant referee 2: Nick Hopton
Fourth official: Mark Dwyer
Tierney is currently in his 9th season as a Football League referee. He is also a qualified Premier League referee, with 2016/17 being his first season on the list.
His first Premier League game came on Saturday 30th August 2014 as Swansea City beat West Brom 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium. Three yellow cards were given out during the game.
Last season, Tierney officiated on 32 games, 10 of which were in the Premiership. He brandished 110 yellow cards and five red cards during that season.
He was also the fourth official at Vicarage Road last Saturday, as Watford and Liverpool played out an entertaining 3-3 draw.
Tierney has refereed County on one previous occasion. That came on Tuesday 16th September 2014 as the Exiles drew 0-0 with Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Kevin Feely and Mark Byrne were both booked that day.
Other games around the League (All 3pm kick-offs)
Accrington Stanley vs Mansfield Town
Carlisle United vs Cheltenham Town
Chesterfield vs Port Vale
Crawley Town vs Cambridge United
Crewe Alexandra vs Barnet
Exeter City vs Lincoln City
Forest Green Rovers vs Yeovil Town
Luton Town vs Colchester
Morecambe vs Swindon Town
Stevenage vs Grimsby Town
Wycombe Wanderers vs Notts County.
Tickets are onsale in the Ticket Office Friday 18th August.
Can’t make the match?
You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via the club’s official Facebook and Instagram pages.
Don’t forget – if you reside outside of the UK, you can watch the game live by subscribing to County’s iFollow service. Commentary by Tim Thraves can also be found at the Match Centre.