In normal times a big city football club fielding an attractive, free-scoring team featuring a number of young, locally-born players would not expect to be watched by the lowest home crowd in the club's 94 years in the Football League.
But these are anything but normal times for Coventry City. This was the third match the Sky Blues have, ludicrously, hosted 30 miles down the road at Northampton Town, and outstandingly well though they are playing, the boycott of the arrangement by the club's supporters is holding very firm.
For the record, and a sorry record it is, the crowd for the first game, against Bristol City, was 2,204, the second, against Preston, 2,068. The attendance this time round was 1,789, "beating" the 2,059 who came to Highfield Road to watch City draw 1-1 with Crystal Palace in Division Three (South). "Thank you for your continued support", said the man on the Tannoy, with rather less irony than the cheer that greeted his announcement.
Up on the hill behind the north stand – nicknamed Jimmy's Hill for the occasion, in affectionate tribute to City's former chairman whose statue stands outside the club's former home, the Ricoh Arena – a group of perhaps 60 City fans looked on.
Most were members of The Not One Penny More group, whose aim is to force Sisu, the company which despite taking the club into administration, League One and Northampton, somehow remains in control of its destiny, to give up by starving it of income.
It may be a long job. The club's chief executive, Tim Fisher, recently told the local paper Sisu would absorb any losses while the club plays in Northampton, and in the meantime, having apparently ruled out any further attempt to negotiate a return to the Ricoh, build a new stadium in the Coventry area. Three to five years is the estimated timescale, which seems optimistic.
While the circumstances in which the City manager, Steven Pressley, finds himself working to overcome the handicap of the 10-point deduction with which they started the season are less than ideal, the quality of his squad is such promotion remains perfectly feasible. As Pressley acknowledged, they ripped Colchester to pieces.
Coming into this match having scored 18 goals in their six previous games, City should have increased that tally by at least three before the 30-minute mark. That they did not was down to a couple of smart saves from the Colchester goalkeeper Sam Walker – from Leon Clarke and Callum Wilson – and Clarke's own profligacy. In between hitting the foot of Walker's left-hand post from close range, and the top of his bar with an angled drive, the 28-year-old striker also contrived to head a Carl Baker cross wide from the six-yard line.
At the other end Alex Gilbey put a header and then a half-volley over the bar, but the Essex side were increasingly hanging on and duly went behind six minutes before half-time. Blair Adams, advancing from full-back, fired in a low drive which Walker could only parry, and the ball was turned across the line by Wilson, a seventh goal in seven appearances this season for the 21-year-old local boy – local, that is, to Coventry.
The striker confirmed his position at the top of the League One goalscorers list on the hour mark, combining with Clarke before rounding Walker and slotting the ball into the empty net. The win lifted them off the bottom of the table and to within nine points of the play-offs but Pressley expects the supporter boycott to continue. "We understand the situation, and I think regardless how well we play the supporters will not come and watch until we are back in Coventry, which is after all what everyone wants."
He said that fending off transfer window interest in the likes of Wilson, Clarke and Cyrus Christie had been vital. "It was the most important thing for me, and none of our players will be allowed to go out on loan either. Nor will we be selling in January. It's important to be off the bottom and making progress but we've achieved nothing."
Whether those decisions remain in his hands remains to be seen, because off the field City are far from out of the woods. On it, positivity abounds – albeit that not many are watching.