A careless last minute cost Coventry £200,000 and a
higher place in the Premiership but Gordon Strachan did not want to dwell on the negative.
He had every reason to be pleased with the way his side responded to the end-of-season
game and it was a sign of the pressure they have been under, that with the threat of
relegation lifted they played some of their finest football of the season.
The second half was laced with fine attacking moves but again Citys lack of a
ruthless streak allowed Leeds to pinch a point late in injury time. Strachan and assistant
Garry Pendrey were upset that referee Stephen Lodge had played longer than the two minutes
of allotted overtime but their anger should really have been directed at their defence.
The start of the game could not have been more different. City, with Roland Nilsson
starting his final game for the club before returning home to Sweden, began by forcing
Noel Whelan, who started his career at Elland Road, should have given the Sky Blues the
lead after just two minutes when a lucky bounce put him through but he tried to curl the
ball home with the outside of his right foot and sent it wide.
But, by and large, it was Leeds who dominated the first half chances. David
OLeary had made seven changes from the side that had beaten Arsenal in midweek, and
the newcomers were obviously eager to make an impression.
Clyde Wijnhard, playing up front, saw Magnus Hedman deny him in the fifth minute after
a rare slip from Richard Shaw and the pattern followed from there. The big Swede repelled
a header from David Wetherall and kept out an effort from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink after a
slip from Gary Breen.
David Borrows was stretchered off with a knee injury after 35 minutes, Noel Whelan
followed but was able to return after treatment while Mark Edworthy also picked up an
It was just looking as if Hedman had done enough to keep his side on level terms when
Wijnhard finally made the breakthrough three minutes from half time, turning home a cross
But City looked a changed team after the interval. Whelan spurned a couple of
opportunities the story of his day before Strachan took off the ineffective
Darren Huckerby for John Aloisi.
It proved a wise move. The Aussie had been on the field for just five minutes when
Trond Soltvedt forced his way past two defenders and turned in a left-foot cross which
Aloisi headed home at the far post.
Suddenly the momentum was with City and they poured forward with considerable panache.
A second seemed inevitable but its source was slightly more surprising. Paul Telfer, not
noted for his goals record, collected an over-hit cross from George Boateng, turned inside
and powered in a low right foot shot.
That looked to be it but Coventry were guilty of dreadful over-complication. On more
than one occasion they had the opportunity to make certain but wanted too much time and
too many touches.
They paid the penalty when David Hopkin was played through, managed to round Headman
and turned the ball into an unguarded net.
Still the main objective survival had been ensured by last weeks
point at Derby and in the end the margin looked comfortable by recent standards.
Now the work begins.
Hedman, Nilsson, Shaw, Breen (Williams, 45 mins), Burrows (Edworthy 37 mins), Boateng,
McAllister, Soltvedt, Telfer, Huckerby (Aloisi, 58 mins), Whelan
Subs: Clement, Quinn
Robinson, Granville (Harte, 72 mins), Radebe, Wetherall, Haaland (Hopkin, 46 mins), Ribero
(Kewell, 69 mins), Batty, McPhail, Jones, Hasselbaink, Wijnhard
Subs: Martyn, Woodgate
Wijnhard (42 mins), Aloisi (63 mins), Telfer (72 mins), Hopkin (90 mins)
REFEREE: Stephen Lodge (Barnsley)
Coventry Edworthy (foul, 55 mins)
Leeds - Haaland (foul, 36 mins), Wetherall (foul, 46 mins)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Magnus Hedman great saves