April 1985. That’s the last time Sunderland won an away match down at Coventry City. Maggie Thatcher was halfway through her decade-long stint as Prime Minister, the Miners’ Strike had been finished just a matter of weeks, and Len Ashurst managed a Sunderland side who would end the campaign with a relegation.
Almost 40 years have come and gone since the 1-0 victory at Highfield Road, and this includes many fruitless visits to this corner of the West Midlands. This equates to 11 visits to either Coventry’s old ground, or the still pretty new CBS Arena, in league and cup without victory.
When the fixtures came out, I was almost pleased to see Coventry away come up so soon, as it meant we could get the visit out of the way nice and early. I have faith in the current squad to go and get a result, but history has been far from kind to us in Coventry.
This, no matter which way you look at it, equates to something of a bogey destination for Sunderland. The run also means that we’ve never won at the Ricoh/ CBS Arena in our four visits. We couldn’t even win away at Coventry when we weren’t even playing in Coventry, a 1-0 loss at St Andrew’s right before lockdown made sure of that.
Our visit to the CBS Arena last year came during arguably our worst run of what was a memorable season. 71% of the ball and more of the chances didn’t make an impact on the all-important stat, and goals from Jamie Allen and Viktor Gyokeres cancelled out a worldy consolation goal from Amad in a 2-1 loss.
We just don’t like playing Coventry apparently, and it’s getting bloody annoying.
Our home form isn’t much better against the Sky Blues either. Our last home win against them was 2-0 in the promotion season of 2006/07, Carlos Edwards and Dwight Yorke bagged for Roy Keane’s Mackems.
Three home games since, with that mad 5-4 loss sandwiched in between two 1-1 draws, is at least better than our away record down at their place.
It’s often joked that Sunderland have plenty of bogey teams, but there are few with a more damning record of that than Coventry. Regardless of the form they find themselves in, Coventry always seem to find a way of getting the better of us.
We had two tight affairs last season and both teams ended up in the playoffs.
Sunderland getting three points at the CBS Arena is very long overdue, and this occasion would be perfect timing to carry on putting our slow start to the season behind us. We got our season up and running last week, and the quiet week on the transfer front can be counted with a strong performance down in the West Midlands.