New Albion era starts with the visit of the Sky Blues

West Bromwich Albion v Coventry City; The Hawthorns, Friday 1st March 2024, 8pm

After two away games that garnered four valuable points, Albion return to the Hawthorns this weekend for another Friday night encounter looking to start a new unbeaten home run. After a disappointing defeat to Southampton in their last home match, the Baggies face one of the chasing pack outside the top six in the form of Coventry City.

The more important new start, however, is that of a new era under the ownership of Shilen Patel whose purchase of the club was completed on Wednesday. It finally brings an end to the period of Chinese ownership that has seen the club fall from a stable Premier League club to that of cash-strapped Championship hopefuls that were destined for years in the wilderness without fresh investment. None of us are expecting a massive influx of cash, not least because the financial regulations do not permit it, but there is at least the feeling that the immediate financial future of the club is secure and there is hope for the future.

Friday’s opponents have had their own tribulations over the past decade but they seem secure at the CBS Arena for the time being and Mark Robins, the Championship’s longest serving manager who will celebrate seven years in charge of Coventry City next week, is hoping for a second successive play-off finish this season. However, the Sky Blues suffered a shock 3-0 home defeat by another of the teams chasing the play-offs, Preston North End, last Friday, before dispatching Maidstone United 5-0 in the FA Cup Fifth Round on Monday. The defeat to the Lilywhites was one of only two that City have suffered in all competitions since early December in a run of 19 games that has resulted in 11 victories taking them from 17th to 9th place in the Championship table and to a first FA Cup quarter-final for 15 years.

The result was not the only blow from last Friday for the Sky Blues with the news that influential Japanese midfielder, Tatsuhiro Sakamoto, will miss the rest of the season due to an unspecified injury. Only American striker, Haji Wright, has scored more than Sakamoto’s seven Championship goals this campaign for Coventry, so he will definitely be missed. 23-year-old striker, Ellis Simms, scored a hat trick against Maidstone on Monday to make it six goals in the calendar year, so will be full of confidence for Friday night, but City’s best players this season, according to, have been Ben Sheaf, who is currently out injured, goalkeeper Brad Collins, who Robins has recently dropped in favour of Ben Wilson, and midfielder Callum O’Hare. O’Hare’s return to the starting line up following a cruciate ligament injury that kept him out until late October, has more-or-less corresponded to the Sky Blues’ upturn in form – he first started a game in early December and has scored nine goals since then, six of them in the Championship.

I’m sure that combatting O’Hare’s influence will be one of the key areas that Carlos Corberán and his coaching staff will have been addressing in their preparation for this match. Not that he is likely to perform any sort of man-marking, but I’m sure all in the team will have their instructions for City’s creator-in-chief. As for the make up of the team to start the game, the Spaniard has a number of decisions to make. While he is short on options for the central striking role, he has plenty of options elsewhere.

At the back, the performances of Erik Pieters have certainly given food for thought. Brought in only due to an injury to Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi’s participation in AFCON, the Dutchman has grasped his opportunity with both hands and kept his starting place at Hull despite both Bartley and Ajayi being available. I expect the remainder of the back four to remain unchanged, along with Mowatt and Yokuşlu in the middle of the park, but it is anybody’s guess who will make up the attacking four. Wallace has been used as the “number nine” for the past two games, but Andi Weimann is certainly another option while youngster Callum Marshall, a recognised number nine, has only been used off the bench since his arrival from West Ham. He did look a little lost in his last appearance in the defeat to Southampton, but Corberán has since indicated that he could still have a big impact this season.

A good start is vital as getting the first goal has proved incredibly important for Albion this season. They are yet to win a match this season having conceded the first goal, picking up just three points in those games, while they have a 100% record when scoring first at the Hawthorns. City, meanwhile have only kept clean sheets against sides in the bottom three since Christmas, and with a Championship high of 15 clean sheets this season and averaging less than one goal per game conceded, Albion should be confident that they can earn another three points.


Albion haven’t conceded a goal to Coventry City at the Hawthorns for more than 15 years, albeit the Sky Blues have only made three visits to West Bromwich in that time resulting in two 1-0 victories for the Baggies and one goalless draw. When City did last score at the Shrine, they banged in four as they surprisingly beat Tony Mowbray’s team 4-2 in December 2007. The Baggies came back from a 2-0 half time deficit when Roman Bednár scored twice in thirteen second half minutes, but Paul Robinson’s red card left the hosts down to ten men and Leon Best and Michael Mifsud each scored their second goals of the game in the last ten minutes to steal the points for Iain Dowie’s Coventry side.

That is Albion’s only home league defeat to the West Midlands’ most easterly league club since 1982, although the clubs have only shared a division for ten seasons in that period. City did win an FA Cup tie at the Hawthorns in 1995 when they were a division higher than Albion, but since their relegation from the Premier League in 2001, they have lost on five of their seven visits to Albion including a 3-0 defeat in March 2004, when Geoff Horsfield, Rob Hulse and Mark Kinsella were the scorers, and a 5-0 defeat in December 2006 when the goals came from “Joe” Kamara (2), Jason Koumas, Kevin Phillips and Paul Robinson.

The Baggies have bettered that scoreline against the Sky Blues on three occasions. Twice in the sixties, once on the way to lifting the League Cup in November 1965, and three years later in Division One in October 1968, Albion beat Coventry 6-1. The first of those was actually a replay after a 1-1 draw at Highfield Road with the Baggies blowing their opponents away at the Hawthorns with Jeff Astle scoring a hat trick, Doug Fraser scoring twice and Bomber Brown also on the scoresheet. In the league match in ’68, Astle and Brown were both on the scoresheet again, with the King scoring twice on this occasion, while Ronnie Rees and Asa Hartford also scoring with the sixth an own goal scored by City’s John Tudor.

Famously, however, Ron Atkinson’s wonderful team of 1978/79 bettered both of those with a 7-1 victory in October 1978 against a team in an awful brown away kit. Tony Brown was still playing and scored again, his was the sixth, with the other goals coming from Len Cantello, Laurie Cunningham (2), Cyrille Regis (2) and Derek Statham.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion W D W L W D
Coventry City W W D W L W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

30 Oct 2023 – League Championship
Coventry City 0
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Diangana, Thomas-Asante)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

3 Feb 2023 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Diangana)
Coventry City 0

Albion’s Record against Coventry City

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 55 27 13 15 89 55   27 15 8 4 54 22
FA Cup 8 4 2 2 19 9   4 2 0 2 8 4
League Cup 5 3 2 0 13 6   3 3 0 0 12 5
Total 68 34 17 17 121 70   34 20 8 6 74 31

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