Arriving into Coventry, l had tailored my expectations to suit both the opposition and the place itself. A city decimated during the early years of World War II, its medieval beauty and historic architecture was blitzed by German aerial bombardments, and as such the Midlands town, like many cities that would experience similar fates, was resurrected on the cheap.
After losing Viktor Gyokeres, Gustavo Hamer, and Callum Doyle this summer, Mark Robins has been on an architectural restructuring mission of his own in the city, and one that has seen the CBS Arena tenants appear to shell out considerably more on Ellis Simms alone than the hamstrung government of the 50s did when it came to raising a war-battered city from the ashes.
Following another uneventful week on the transfer front at the Academy of Light, and countless cries from fans to Kyril and Kristjaan to brandish the chequebook and add a striker that wasn’t either extortionately overpriced, nor Chris Martin (the big lumbering frontman, not the dreadful Coldplay leading man), we headed into one of the more challenging fixtures of the campaign.
With Patrick Roberts, Lynden Gooch and Jewi all out injured, when it came to the team announcements on the stroke of two, changes from last week were inevitable, with Abdoullah Ba assuming Roberts’ role on the right side, and Jobe taking on the false nine role with Dack dropping in.
We started relatively brightly - Dan Neil looked sharp and we were zipping it around well, although to little avail when it came to our end product.
As the first half dragged on, and we looked less and less like scoring, our Sky Blue opponents ramped it up a gear, but they seemed to suffer from the same impotency when in the final third.
With the half drawing to a close, there was little between the two sides, a statement that plenty of pessimistic fans would have been happy to hear prior to kick-off.
After a few nervy moments at the back in the opening proceedings of the second half, we slowly but surely began to make our mark on the game and the intricacy of our play was bearing fruit, with an assortment of flicks, tricks and cute interplay unlocking a notoriously rigid Coventry defence on several occasions.
Unfortunately, Jack Clarke’s mazy runs and reluctance to pull the trigger, as well as Jobe and Dennis Cirkin’s blocked efforts were the closest we came in a game of few chances.
This wasn’t a game won by attackers, but a contest not lost by two defences who were as relentlessly solid as each other.
With the match finishing in a 0-0 draw, there were a plethora of positives to take from our display.
Plaudits must go to Dan Neil, Anthony Patterson, and Dan Ballard in particular who were all pretty flawless throughout, as well as Alex Pritchard who came on and seemed to turn the tide in our favour.
Mowbray’s men are starting to tick, and with Patrick Roberts, a competent man leading the line, and a fully firing midfield, this Sunderland team is going to be some side once the missing parts are assembled.
In the meantime, four points from four games is a respectable return all things considered.