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Adam Dent, CWN[13 MAR 99] COVENTRY CITY FC MATCH REPORT
Coventry City (0) 1
Blackburn Rovers (0) 1
BY ADAM DENT

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 week’s 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 Boateng’s 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 his second.

That should have broken Blackburn’s 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 hadn’t 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 Filan’s 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 Johnson’s 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 excellent tackle.

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 Strachan’s vested interest.

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COVENTRY:
Hedman; Nilsson, Shaw, Konjic (Clement, 70 mins), Burrows; Boateng, Telfer, McAllister (Huckerby, 71 mins), Froggatt; Whelan, Aloisi
Subs not used: Ogrizovic, Soltvedt, Shilton

BLACKBURN:
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)

BOOKINGS:
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)

ATTENDANCE: 19,701

CITY MAN OF THE MATCH: Roland Nilsson
    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 13 Mar 99

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM