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Adam Dent, CWN[08 MAY 99] COVENTRY CITY FC MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Derby County (0) 0
Coventry City (0) 0
BY ADAM DENT

Coventry City can enjoy the all-too-rare luxury of a relaxing final day of the season after securing a 33rd campaign in the top-flight.

The 90 minutes at Pride Park may not have been laid back but City, by hook or by crook, managed to maintain a clean sheet and inch their way to salvation.

Now it is left to Charlton, Blackburn and Southampton to bite their footballing nails as City have done so many times down the years on the final day of the season.

Gordon Strachan said after the game that he will be planning the new season after a short break – determined to make sure the next campaign is less fraught. He needs to.

Nerves have not, however, been an over-riding factor in the last two games. City did put their followers through the mill in the final 15 minutes against Wimbledon and they did have to rely on Magnus Hedman’s agility before making certain at Pride Park.

But other team’s poor results of late have made the final weeks easier than they could, or perhaps should, have been.

Strachan was forced into just one change, replacing the injured David Burrows with Marcus Hall, who put on a steady performance, but the manager resisted what must have been a strong temptation to play Roland Nilsson on his return to the club.

Coventry could have buried by the interval as Derby, pushing for a top six place, came out in impressively open form. City were pushed back and, as Derby held a grip on midfield, there were few attacking outlets to relieve the pressure.

Youngster Rory Delap set the tone when he had a shot deflected wide off Marcus Hall after five minutes and for next 20 it was largely one-way traffic. Magnus Hedman made a fine save from Darryl Powell, Richard Shaw had to clear a threatening cross from Mikkel Beck and then Hedman had to tip over a back header from Paul Telfer.

Eventually City began to find their feet and bring Darren Huckerby and Noel Whelan into play. The latter almost profited as the former took a quick corner but Whelan failed to bring the ball under control when George Boateng put him through in the 25th minute.

The second half lacked the urgency of the first but Derby, with young Adam Murray and little Italian Francesco Baiano on as subs, moved the ball slickly in midfield and still offered a potent threat.

City’s most promising moment also came at the end of a fine passing movement involving Hall, who had come close to giving away a first half penalty, and Whelan, but Huckerby just failed to reach a cross from the young full back at the far post.

But the end of the game was the most dramatic. Dean Sturridge just failed to reach a cross from Kevin Harper when he would have scored and the whistle sounded amid the most frantic scramble inside the City area.

Strachan knows full well that this has been a vastly disappointing season, particularly coming after last year’s promise, but at least he can put it right in the top flight.

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DERBY COUNTY:
Poom, Carbonari, Laursen, Prior, Schnoor, Powell, Delap (Harper, 78 mins), Eranio (Murray, 45 mins),Wanchope, Sturridge, Beck (Baiano, 58 mins)
Subs: Hoult, Jackson

COVENTRY:
Hedman, Edworthy, Shaw, Breen, Hall, Boateng, Soltvedt, McAllister, Telfer, Huckerby (Alosi, 87 mins), Whelan
Subs: Kirkland, Clement, Williams, Nilsson

REFEREE: Paul Alcock (Kent)

BOOKINGS:
Derby – Powell (foul, 32 mins)
Coventry – Edworthy (diving, 73 mins)

ATTENDANCE: 32,450

MAN OF THE MATCH: Magnus Hedman – vital saves
    

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DERBY COUNTY



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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 8 May 99

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