Newly-promoted Coventry welcome QPR to their adopted St Andrew's home on Friday night. Mark O'Haire analyses the Championship encounter.
"During Coventry’s championship-winning League One campaign, matches at St Andrew’s were rarely thrill-a-minute affairs"
Coventry v QPR
Friday September 18, 19:45
Coventry unfortunate on opening day
Coventry began life back in the Championship with a 2-1 defeat at Bristol City but the Sky Blues will be encouraged by their decent display at Ashton Gate. Mark Robins' men can count themselves unfortunate to come away empty-handed, displaying plenty of character to come back from a goal conceded inside the opening 20 seconds.
City deservedly restored parity soon after the half-hour mark through Matt Godden and continued to carve out numerous opportunities thereafter. Home goalkeeper Daniel Bentley made a string of fine saves to prevent further damage, including one brilliant one-handed stop to keep out debutant Leo Ostigard's deflected header as Coventry continued to press.
Callum O'Hare was at the heart of the Sky Blues' good attacking play, whilst new boy Gustavo Hame received glowing reviews for his defensive midfield performance. However, the hosts pinched a decisive second from a corner late on as Coventry's zonal marking system failed to Robins' obvious frustration. Skipper Liam Kelly also picked up a slight knock.
QPR top of the tree
QPR kicked-off the new Championship campaign with a 2-0 triumph over Nottingham Forest at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. New signing Lyndon Dykes marked his debut by thumping home a penalty to open his account for the R's before Ilias Chair completed the scoring with the second, stroking into an empty net after Dykes had his initial shot saved.
In a match lacking in final-third quality, Forest arguably enjoyed the better openings with Lewis Grabban particularly wasteful as the visitors failed to land any of their six attempts on-target. Ryan Yates did hit the woodwork for the Reds, although Rangers stood firm and defended resolutely on their way to a rare clean sheet under Mark Warburton's watch.
Meanwhile, Warburton has suggested he would leave out Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ryan Manning unless the duo committed their futures to the club. Both are in the final year of their contracts and have refused offers of a new deal. Osayi-Samuel was selected last Saturday but Manning was left out of the squad, fuelling rumours of a move away.
Sky Blues strong at St Andrew's
Coventry and QPR go head-to-head for the first time since 2010/11, a season in which the visitors concluded the campaign as second-tier champions. Rangers took top honours in both meetings but had previously tasted victory just once in 10 meetings with the Sky Blues beforehand. When City have hosted, the duo have shared a W3-D1-L3 record this century.
Coventry [2.56] suffered only three defeats in 34 league fixtures before League One's suspension in 2019/20. Mark Robins' men were eight points clear at the top of the tree and suffered a solitary reverse at their adopted St Andrew's home (W11-D5-L1), leaking an average of only 0.65 home goals per-game, suggesting the hosts are capable of competing.
QPR [2.94] posted a reasonable W7-D3-L7 away at sides outside of the play-off places last season. The Super Hoops also performed well on various performance data metrics, although the departure of star turn Eberechi Eze, plus speculation linking Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ryan Manning with moves away has left the Rangers squad looking thin.
Close contest forecast
During Coventry's championship-winning League One campaign, matches at St Andrew's were rarely thrill-a-minute affairs. As well as the Sky Blues posting exceptional defensive records, the hosts saw just five of 17 outings here produce Over 2.5 Goals [2.10] profit with only one game featuring more than three total goals here.
Compared to their Loftus Road contests, QPR's away days last season were much tamer tussles. The Super Hoops took a slightly more pragmatic approach on their travels, resulting in 10 of 17 trips to teams outside of the top-six finishing with Under 2.5 Goals [1.76] ]with eight encounters seeing at least one side fail to score.
With that in mind, I'm happy to invest faith in Coventry avoiding defeat alongside a low-scoring Friday night showdown - we can back Coventry Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals at a very fair 1.80 via Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi market.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 3.00 pts
Returned: 1.95 pts
P/L: -1.05 pts