Gordon Strachan has often said his players may not
be the best in the Premiership but once again it was their hearts as much as their
abilities that pulled them through in what could just prove to be one of the most vital
games of the season.
Twice this season they have had a man sent off twice they have emerged from the
John Aloisi was the sinner this time, apparently lashing out at Danny Mills just
moments after City had gone behind. He claimed he had merely pushed the Charlton defender
but referee Jeff Winter saw it as violent conduct and ordered the City man off.
seemed to be the making of the Sky Blues who battled back from a goal down and then, with
only five minutes remaining, took the game with a goal from substitute Trond Soltvedt.
Manager Gordon Strachan had, as expected, brought Noel Whelan back in place of the
suspended George Boateng and given Aloisi a run alongside Huckerby after his two goal
flurry against Aston Villa seven days before.
Charlton, who had not conceded for four games, started brightly enough with Mark
Kinsella and Neil Redfearn making things tick from midfield. Kinsella directed one chance
wide of goal early on but the longer the half went on, the more Coventry began to take
That was never easy on a quite dreadful surface but they carved out enough chances to
take the lead. Huckerby volleyed over after a first time cross from Paul Telfer fell to
him inside the area and then Gary McAllister just failed to poke a short back pass around
keeper Simon Royce.
David Burrows could also have opened his City account on the half hour when Royce
punched a corner out. The full-back sent a header back towards goal but the keeper just
managed to make up his ground and tip the ball over.
The best chance of the half, however, fell to Charltons recent signing Martin
Pringle. Redfearn hooked the ball forward to put the Swede through but his fellow
countryman Magnus Hedman managed to stop the shot with his outstretched foot.
It was the Londoners who seized the initiative after the interval. Once again Coventry
were slow to start and were punished.
Aloisi had just gone close with a diving header when Charlton broke down the left.
Pringle at first missed the ball but his second attempt was kept out by Hedman only for a
combination of Jonathan Hunt and John Robinson to bundle the ball over the line.
That was bad but a minute later it got seemingly worse when Aloisi was ordered
off. That, however, was the signal for Coventry to channel their collective wrath into
something positive and, while there had been nothing wrong with their commitment before
the incident, they seemed to discover another gear.
The goal that brought them level was a belter. Paul Telfer laid the ball off with great
touch and vision, allowing Whelan to stroke the ball arrogantly passed Royce.
Surprisingly Charlton boss Alan Curbishley decided to take off Redfearn and Robinson,
two of his better players, and that could well have played into Coventrys hands.
They left it late. With just five minutes left, a corner was knocked out to sub Trond
Soltvedt who struck the ball powerfully goalwards, only for it to hit a defender and
deflect into the opposite corner.
Referee Jeff Winter ruled there were, amazingly, four minutes left of added time but
Coventry knew victory was theirs and played out the final moments confidently
With Leicester and Southampton both managing to win, this was a crucial result. The
same against Blackburn would do very nicely.
Hedman; Nilsson, Shaw, Williams, Burrows; Whelan, Telfer, McAllister, Froggatt; Huckerby
(Soltvedt, 75 mins), Aloisi
Subs not used: Ogrizovic, Konjic, Gioacchini, Shilton
Royce; Mills, Brown, Tiler; Robinson (Barness, 70 mins), Jones, Kinsella, Redfearn
(Barnes, 63 mins), Powell; Hunt (Mortimer, 79 mins), Pringle
Subs not used: Mendonca, Ilic
GOALS: Robinson (56 mins), Whelan (67 mins), Soltvedt (85 mins)
Coventry Whelan (dissent, 76 mins), Hedman (dissent, 56 mins) Chalrton
Redfearn (foul, 10 mins)
SENDING OFF: Aloisi (violent conduct, 63 mins)
REFEREE: Jeff Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)