Gordon Strachan is still hoping he will be able to
watch the relegation issue settled without a direct interest despite City allowing one of
their major rivals to take a point at Highfield Road.
Coventry had little cause for complaint after Rovers came back from a goal down but, on
a dreadful pitch and in an ordinary game, they still created more than enough chances to
claim all three points.
After next weeks trip to Arsenal which will be made without Noel Whelan,
John Aloisi and possibly Gary McAllister who picked up an ankle injury City only
face one of the top six and have to play Southampton, Everton and Leicester. They have the
opportunity to play themselves to safety but will have to show more of a ruthless streak.
That is certainly not something Strachan lacks. He decided to axe Darren Huckerby after
a run of eight games without a goal and went with Whelan and Aloisi in attack.
That allowed George Boateng to return, while Mo Konjic came in for Paul Williams who
picked up a back injury in training on Friday.
Once again Coventry were slow to find anything near top gear. Blackburn youngster David
Dunn fired a shot just wide in the opening exchanges and David Burrows was forced to head
a threatening cross from Jason Wilcox behind for a corner.
But then, just as Blackburn were beginning to knock the ball around sweetly in midfield
despite the glue-pot pitch, Aloisi struck with a wonderfully taken goal.
He read Boatengs intentions perfectly and when the Dutchman delivered a near-post
cross, he killed the ball with his first touch and then fired in a fearsome volley with
That should have broken Blackburns resistance but City never really built on the
goal while the visitors are clearly made of sterner stuff than recent form would indicate.
The returning Chris Sutton caused the Sky Blues defence problems and he and Konjic
enjoyed a running battle all through the game. The flashpoint came when the Bosnian went
down on halfway, claiming he had been elbowed in the face.
Referee Steve Dunn hadnt seen the incident and Sutton escaped punishment but the
Bristol official had to keep a close eye on the two and they shadowed each other for the
rest of the afternoon.
Ironically Coventry looked more threatening after the break when Whelan and Aloisi
began to develop an understanding. In fact the Aussie could have made sure of the points
within a minute of the re-start when he met a cross from Paul Telfer only to see the ball
bounce up and over John Filans cross bar.
Slowly Rovers began to grow in confidence and sub Damien Johnson caused City problems
down the left. He teed up Sutton in the 66th minute only for the former England
man to direct a header straight to Magnus Hedman.
But Rovers were celebrating within a minute Jason Wilcox arriving late in the
area to side-foot Johnsons cross into the net.
Strachan brought on Huckerby to great cheers but precious little effect when McAllister
went down clutching his left ankle. The injury looked grave but reports suggest it is not
as bad as first thought and he has not been ruled out of the trip to Highbury.
Huckerby put Aloisi through in the final minutes but debutant Martin Taylor produced an
Victory would have been a major boost for Strachan and his side. This result keeps the
pot boiling great if you are an impartial observer but not so entertaining if you
have Strachans vested interest.
Hedman; Nilsson, Shaw, Konjic (Clement, 70 mins), Burrows; Boateng, Telfer, McAllister
(Huckerby, 71 mins), Froggatt; Whelan, Aloisi
Subs not used: Ogrizovic, Soltvedt, Shilton
Filan; McAteer, Henchoz, Taylor, Davidson; Dunn (Johnson, 60 mins), Jansen (Duff, 50
mins), Marcolin, Wilcox; Ward, Suttton
Subs not used: Coughlan, Davies, Williams
GOALS: Aloisi (22 mins), Wilcox (67 mins)
Coventry Burrows (foul, 45 mins)
Blackburn Henchoz (foul, 36 mins), McAteer (foul, 46 mins), Sutton (dissent, 46
mins), Marcolin (foul, 79 mins)
REFEREE: Steve Dunn (Bristol)