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Back in 2017-18, Luton and Coventry won promotion from League Two with Wycombe and Accrington Stanley: five years on, they face one another at Wembley, vying for a place in the Premier League.

The two clubs have been on astonishing journeys, overcoming wrongdoings of previous times to write new chapters in their respective trajectories, defying the odds through stability, smart recruitment and excellent management.

Whoever wins can celebrate a truly remarkable achievement, and whoever falls short should still look back with immense pride.

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Coventry’s solid defending


It was a second leg performance of resolute defending that earnt Coventry a 1-0 victory at Middlesbrough, after a goalless first leg draw at the Ricoh Arena.

Luke McNally, Kyle McFadzean and Callum Doyle guarded the box impeccably at the Riverside Stadium, meaning for all the pressure their hosts applied, goalkeeper Ben Wilson had to make just one save across the game.

Gus Hamer has assisted Viktor Gyokeres five times in the regular season – no player in the Championship has supplied another more frequently – but on Teesside the roles were reversed.

Gyokeres posed his usual threat by running in behind, but Hamer showed not only the desire to get into the box, but also the composure and assurance to take a couple of touches, before producing a sublime finish.

With just 46 goals conceded in 48 games, though, solidity could be key for the Sky Blues once again.


Luton’s improved second leg


Luton didn’t find the intensity they needed in their first leg 1-0 defeat at Sunderland, but they corrected that from the get-go in the return leg, running out 2-1 aggregate winners.

The Hatters applied far more pressure on their opponents’ makeshift defence, and were a serious danger from set pieces, the route from which Tom Lockyer and Gabriel Osho scored the first half goals.

Rob Edwards’ side have the aerial prowess in Lockyer, Carlton Morris and Elijah Adebayo, but they also have a handy spread of players outside the box, so that when opponents defend the initial delivery, they still have means to sustain pressure by either recycling the ball or putting in another cross.

Lockyer has had an outstanding season and, ably flanked by Osho and Amari’i Bell in the three-man defence, and protected by Marvellous Nakamba in midfield, Luton will be tight.


The Tactics Board


The biggest thing Coventry have over Luton is Viktor Gyokeres. Of course, Luton have a striker in Carlton Morris who has scored 20 goals – just one fewer than the Swede – in 630 fewer minutes of football, and has had a fantastic campaign after joining from relegated Barnsley last summer, but needs tailored service, chiefly crosses into the box.

And, for Luton to produce those crosses, they have to get into advanced areas as a team in the first place, which necessitates a strong collective performance.

The Sky Blues, by contrast, don’t need to create for Gyokeres quite as precisely, which is why they’ve been able to achieve what they have despite Callum O’Hare being injured since Boxing Day and even Kasey Palmer absent from February.

In that sense, Mark Robins’ side can potentially afford to be below-par in certain areas as a unit, and still win the game through stubborn, last ditch defending from McNally, McFadzean and Doyle, and individual quality from Gyokeres.

The 24-year-old has the pace to run onto hopeful balls down the channels, the strength to hold off a defender and the agility to outmaneouvre another, then either the quality of link-up play to feed Hamer, Jamie Allen or Ben Sheaf, or the razor-sharp eye to thump a rasping effort into the corner.

Transitional moments against Luton may not come easy, with Edwards’ side being so well-organised, but if Coventry have two or three of those, Gyokeres has the range of qualities to make them count.


Best bets


Coventry are an appealing 2/1 for victory inside 90 minutes, seeing as they’ve won four of their last seven games, and have only been defeated in one of their previous 19.

Viktor Gyokeres, meanwhile, can be backed to score anytime at 23/10, after the Sweden international has already scored five goals this season against top six opposition, proving himself a man for the big occasions.

Coventry to win in 90 minutes
Viktor Gyokeres to score anytime
Odds are correct at the time of posting

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