Coventry City may not have yet escaped the clutches
of relegation but the Sky Blue world looks a brighter place after the Easter campaign.
The Sky Blues have collected a maximum six points while those around them have failed
to do the same, and, barring a severe loss of form, they should hopefully be able to enter
the final week of the season knowing they are free from the threat of the big drop.
They will play better than they did in both the holiday games and still lose, but when
the pressure is on it is often more than solely ability which divides sides. Gordon
Strachans side displayed great fight in both their holiday fixtures, both against
fellow relegation battlers, and had the stroke of fortune they may have missed out on
earlier this season.
The Southampton manager David Jones thought his side were hard done-by not to come away
with a point but, while never reaching their best, Coventry always possessed more
The fact it took them more than an hour to make that show, was more down to Saints
keeper Neil Moss who had an excellent game. The fact he turned out to be the eventual
sinner, was hard on him.
The decisive moment came in the 64th minute. Gary Breen whipped in a cross
from the right hand side and the recalled Trond Soltvedt flung himself at the ball and
made firm contact with his head.
Moss got to the
ball but couldnt hold it and George Boateng was on hand to smash it into the net.
The collective sigh of relieve was almost audible. Breen, who kept his place at right
back while Marc Edworthy dropped out to make way for the returning David Burrows, should
have made the final moments stress-free when Darren Huckerby provided him with a clear-cut
opportunity but he fired wide.
Strachan was forced to make changes after Steve Froggatt hurt a hamstring at Sheffield
Wednesday on Saturday, so he moved utility man Paul Telfer out to the left and brought in
The Norwegian had a superb game in terms of effort. At times, as Strachan later pointed
out, his passing was not all it should have been but he seemed to be everywhere on the
The first half was as tense and therefore disappointing as one might have expected. The
clearest chance came when Ken Monkou inadvertently headed back towards goal only for Moss
to make a fine flying save.
The keeper was not, however, quite so hot at the resulting corner and had Scott Hiley
to thank for heading Breens effort off the line.
Southampton played what they must have hoped was their trump card by bringing on Matt
Le Tissier but although the former England man provided an added threat, it was not enough
to unhinge an impressively strong City defence.
Magnus Hedman was only called into meaningful action once, turning an excellent header
from James Beattie around a post.
Referee Uriah Rennie made the final period of the game an irritatingly stop-start
affair. The Sheffield official had shown a strange sense of values in penalising petty
offences while letting far greater transgressions of the law go unpunished and he somehow
managed to book four City players in the space of ten minutes late in the second half.
McAllister will now miss the game with Leicester.
That, however, is a mere detail set against the accomplishments of a highly successful
Hedman; Breen, Shaw, Williams, Burrows; Boateng, McAllister, Soltvedt, Telfer; Whelan,
Huckerby (Gioacchini, 86 mins)
Subs not used: Kirkland, Shilton, Edworthy, Konjic
Moss; Hiley, Lundekvam, Monkou, Colleter; Dodd, D Hughes (Kachloul, 76 mins), Marsden,
Bridge (Le Tissier, 45 mins); Beattie (Pahars, 68 mins), M Hughes
Subs not used: Benali, Stensgaard
GOALS: Boateng (64 mins)
Coventry Williams (time wasting, 72 mins), McAllister (foul, 74 mins), Whelan
(foul, 80 mins), Boateng (time-wasting, 82 mins)
Southampton - Dodd (dissent, 49 mins)
REFEREE: Uriah Renne (Sheffield)