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Coventry City (0) 1
Southampton (0) 0

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 Strachan’s 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 penetration.

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.

George Boeteng, Coventry City FCMoss got to the ball but couldn’t 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 Soltvedt.

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 field.

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 Breen’s 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 weekend.

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COVENTRY (4-4-2):
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)


COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Trond Soltvedt – tireless worker

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 5 Apr 99

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