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Adam Dent, CWN[11 APR 99] COVENTRY CITY FC MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Everton 2
Coventry City 0
BY ADAM DENT

A sobering dash of reality has pierced the growing bubble of security that has been growing in Coventry since the Sky Blues won both their Easter games.

Gordon Strachan’s side may not have been as bad as they were at Goodison Park in the FA Cup earlier this season, but they still managed to turn in a poor performance that could leave them little room for complaint.

That is not strictly true. They did well enough in the second half but had already been undone by a quite dreadful showing in the opening 45 minutes.

They did, to be fair, pick up their game considerably after the interval but were always chasing the game and were eventually undone by their own ambition.

Kevin Campbell netted both goals, his first for the club he joined on loan on transfer deadline, and the Sky Blues must be sick of the sight of him. Two years ago, while on the books of Nottingham, he rifled a hat-trick on the opening day of the season.

Strachan opted for the side that had beaten Southampton on Monday but had to introduce John Aloisi after 14 minutes when Paul Telfer was carried off with a knee injury.

He had already missed Coventry’s only real opening of the half when Gary Breen had a shot deflected just wide after 55 seconds.

Everton dominated their first half because they held a fearsome grip in midfield. Scott Gemmill and Frenchman Olivier Dacourt dominated the department, out playing and out hustling Gary McAllister and Trond Soltvedt.

City should really have gone behind in the 23rd minute when Francis Jeffers, who had scored in the cup tie, broke away down the right hand side. There was a hint of offside but, as the City defence looked for a flag, he crossed in for Nick Barmby who was free inside the area. The England striker seemed almost certain to score but Magnus Hedman, linked with a 5 million move to Manchester United in the morning’s press, produced a fine save to divert the shot past the post.

Coventry had conceded a succession of free kicks on the fringes of their area and had been fortunate to survive but they managed to reach the interval without further punishment.

Strachan must have spelled out just what he thought of the first half, and there seemed an added zest about their play after the interval.

Darren Huckerby, an almost anonymous figure in the first half, began to resdiscover his confidence with a couple of searing runs, while the midfield started to impose themselves.

Huckerby almost put Aloisi through inside the area in the 52 minutes, Everton keeper Thomas Myhre had to snatch the ball away from Paul Williams and only a superb hook away stopped Aloisi from snatching an equaliser.

While all this was going on, referee Rob Harris was reaping havoc. He was over zealous with his card but it was his total misreading of a string of incidents which angered both sets of fans.

He should have sent off Dacourt who piled into Huckerby having already been booked, but was left with little alternative when Marco Materazzi lunged in at Huckerby after picking up an earlier yellow card. Everton claim he never touched the City man but his intent was obvious.

Strachan threw Whelan up front to make it a three pronged attack but, despite considerable pressure, it failed to make the intended difference. Then, with just three minutes left, sub Tony Grant exchanged passes with Barmby and Campbell pushed the ball home.

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EVERTON: Myhre, Short, Watson, Materazzi, Weir, Dacourt, Gemmill, Barmby, Ball, Campbell, Jeffers (Grant, 85 mins). Subs: Ward, Degn, Cadamarteri, Simonsen.

COVENTRY: Hedman, Breen, Shaw, Williams, Burrows, Telfer (Aloisi, 14 mins), Soltvedt, McAllister, Boateng, Whelan, Huckerby. Subs: Edworthy, Konjic, Shilton, Kirkland.

GOALS: Campbell (28, 87).

REFEREE: Rob Harris (Oxford).

BOOKINGS:
Everton – Gemmill (dissent, 15 mins), Myhre (dissent, 38 mins), Dacourt (foul, 51 mins), Materazzi (foul, 66 mins)), Barmby (foul, 66 mins);
Coventry – Boateng (foul, 32 mins), Huckerby (ungentlemanly conduct, 58 mins).

SENDING OFF: Materazzi (foul, 84 mins).

ATTENDANCE: 32,341.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Gary Breen.
    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 11 Apr 99

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