A Tale of Two Strikers
While most people will be keeping an eye on the QPR of the north, some of us are wondering whether two of the Championship’s in-form strikers can extend their spicy scoring streak over the next three days. Peter Whittingham, Michael Chopra and Matty Fryatt all started the season like it was their last and still figure at the head of the charts, but a quick look at results and scorers from recent weeks suggests that there’s some real competition for the Pichichi.
Does Billy Sharp have something against Darren Ambrose? The latter went on a well-documented six game scoring run for Palace across October and November, earning widespread plaudits, but if Sharp finds the net at the Ricoh today then he’ll have gone one better by scoring in seven on the trot. Sharp has a way to go if he wants to beat Clarrie Jordan’s 1946/47 10 game record, but a game against Coventry presents a good opportunity for progress. The Sky Blues’ back-four of Crainie, Barnett, McPake and Van Aanholt was error-prone and ripe for picking on a quagmire of a pitch against Plymouth last week, and were it not for an incompetent home attack would have certainly conceded. Barnett, who’s had his problems at paymasters WBA, and Chelsea loanee Van Aanholt were particularly dicey, intent on slicing the ball and heading clearances directly to the opposition throughout, and I’d be surprised if they kept out a confident Rovers vanguard today.
In their favour, Coventry themselves possess the second of the league’s in vogue marksmen in their line-up so this encounter, served up between teams 2 hours apart geographically, could be as exciting as a festive local derby. If Sharp has scored 6 in 6, then Freddy Eastwood’s 4 in 2 has to be noted with due respect. A home hat-trick against Peterborough and a single strike against a dire Plymouth side doesn’t prove that any corners have been turned, but confidence is most certainly key for the Romani, and the neutral in me hopes that he can now embark on a run after a torrid few years attempting to prove his price tag at Coventry and Wolves. Like Sharp, he has found the jump to this level, where competition for a starting berth is more intense, tricky, but he trotted about with a swagger last week and took the only chance that came his way. Plenty of opportunities will arise for a poacher in this league, so Eastwood’s presence could yet prove to be as vital to Coventry as Sharp’s has been to Doncaster this winter.