Humorist Mark Twain spoke of nothing being certain in life but death and taxes. Barnsley failing to win against a home Coventry side should be added to the list.
George V was on the throne and Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister on the last occasion that the Reds triumphed against the Sky Blues in the Midlands back in August, 1925.
Barnsley headed into this game on a club record sequence of six successive away league wins. There was emphatically no seventh as their run without a win over Coventry, at their ‘home’, extended to a 26th game.
On an afternoon when the Reds could have moved seven points clear of the side just outside of the play-offs in Reading, they were outfought and out-enthused by an impressive Coventry side who had more fight and desperation regarding their own cause of survival.
Amid gorgeous spring sunshine, everything was seemingly set fair for Barnsley at the outset, but they reckoned without an in your-face, workaholic and ultra-committed Coventry side who set about the Reds in much the same way as they did on Thursday night against Rotherham.
The battles were won by those in sky blue and while Barnsley – despite the benefit of four days extra preparation – were passive, Coventry were super-aggressive.
Their front two of Max Biamou and Tyler Walker were up for the fight and the recalled Gustavo Hamer posed problems in the number ten role and they had a strong outlet in the shape of Sam McCallum’s booming long throws from the left.
At the back, their defenders were no-nonsense and stayed resolute through when Barnsley tried to conjure a leveller in the second half.
They protected the lead given to them in the ninth minute by Dom Hyam admirably and added a late second in stoppage-time through substitute Matty Gooden to virtually rubber-stamp their Championship survival.
Barnsley have more to do to achieve their own cherished aim of play-off participation.
Admitting his side were second best to a Coventry side who did a number of another of Mark Robins’s former clubs, Valerien Ismael said: “I think it was not enough to win. We were sloppy in the first half and we were not really there and there was no intensity. We conceded the early goal and after, it was easier for Coventry to defend.
Now we are close to the end and have four games left and cannot complain or try to analyse the game.
“It is all about getting the next game and focusing on Huddersfield and it is all in our hands and we are still in the perfect position and now the focus is on the next week. Maybe it is a good warning to raise our intensity and desire to get the points.
“We are not over the line and it was a reminder for everyone. The next game is Wednesday and our purpose is to bounce back. “
Coventry did to Barnsley what they have done to a number of sides this term. The one consolation was that the visitors’ interval deficit was narrow.
But there was no second-half transformation despite the Reds seeing much more of the ball.
The breakthrough arrived early when Hyam fired home an excellent low shot after being set up by Biamou following Hamer’s throw.
Hearts were in the mouths of Barnsley when Hyam connected with a firm header later on in the half, but his effort was fortunately over, while Leo Ostigard also spurned a decent opportunity.
At the other end, Barnsley brought little to the table, with their most dangerous moment arriving with the last kick of the half when Cauley Woodrow stabbed the ball just wide past the onrushing Ben Wilson from Daryl Dike’s assist.
Before that, there was much to ponder for Ismael, who looked deep in thought in his technical area. He would have been nonplussed at what he was witnessing.
After putting so much into the first half, the question was whether Coventry could sustain their efforts. Barnsley should have been more concerned with getting their own house in order.
Despite the arrival of Morris, the Sky Blues continued to be unruffled by the visitors, who continued to toil despite seeing more of the ball with the consistent cajolement from Ismael falling on deaf ears.
An important challenge from Michal Helik prevented substitute Viktor Gyokeres from coming close to a second before Barnsley finally, belatedly, produced a chance of note.
An enterprising run from Callum Styles set up substitute Dominik Frieser and his low shot was blocked by Ben Wilson.
Barnsley huffed and puffed but there was no inspiration and conviction, with a rare moment of threat seeing Dike hit the outside of the post.
All told, their big offensive players each had an off-day and an excellent late finish from Godden, who looked offside, compounded a game to forget.
Coventry City: Wilson; Ostigard, McFadzean, Hyam; Dacosta, Kelly, James, McCallum; Hamer (O’Hare 60); Walker (Gyokeres 60), Biamou (Godden 74). Substitutes unused: Marosi, Rose, Allen, Bakayoko, Shipley, Eccles.
Barnsley: Collins; Sibbick, Helik, Andersen; Brittain, Palmer (Halme 57), Mowatt, Styles; Chaplin (Morris 45), Woodrow (Frieser 57), Dike. Substitutes unused: Walton, J Williams, Oduor, Sollbauer, Adeboyejo, Moon.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
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