Coventry were left thinking about what might have
been as they quit the Stadium of Light.
Not that this was an unfair result. Sunderland bombarded the City goal in the second
half but their siege only came after Coventry had handed the home side something of a
Even then Coventry could have won the game in the very final minute when Robbie Keane
spurned a glorious opportunity when Steve Froggatt picked him out, unmarked in front of
Gordon Strachan, as expected, made just the one enforced change, bringing in John
Aloisi for the injured Noel Whelan, and his faith was well rewarded.
Sunderland did cause Coventry problems in the first half mainly through Niall
Quinns height, but when the ball was on the floor, City were by far the superior
Moustapha Hadji had by far his most effective game for the club, while fellow
countryman Youseff Chippo was the clear man of the match despite being ordered off for two
John Aloisi, who had a disappointing game in only his second start of the season, was
set up by Hadji after 23 minutes but his shot hit veteran Steve Bould and deflected wide.
The Sky Blues should have been given an opening after 27 minutes when Keane and Aloisi
combined well to put Chippo through. The Moroccan escaped the attentions of Chris Makin,
who then appeared to pull him down. Referee Stephen Lodge remained unmoved.
Coventry had only five minutes to wait, however, before they took the lead. Again
Chippo was heavily involved. He won the ball in midfield, played a one-two with Gary
McAllister and poked the ball through to Keane.
The young Irishmans touch around Thomas Sorensen was a tad hard but he managed to
turn the ball home from a very tight angle.
He could have had another just before the break when he hooked the ball goalwards as
Sorensen and Paul Butler stood arguing about a defensive mix-up but his aim was awry.
Sunderland manager Peter Reid is not known for his restraint and he must have had a few
words with his side at half time. They were far sharper after the interval and started by
pinning Coventry back inside the their own half.
The home side won five corners inside the first eight minutes and threatened to break
through the City ranks several times. Steve Bould and Quinn both won headers inside the
Sky Blues area but failed to make them count.
The pressure paid off in the 72nd minute when livewire England striker Kevin Phillips
took advantage of some hesitancy in the City defence and volleyed home from close range.
Chippo was booked moments later for showing dissent when he was fouled by Bould who
went unpunished. Then, with just three minutes remaining, Chippo slid in on Alex Rae and
didnt even wait for Lodge to brandish the red card.
If anything, that strengthened Coventrys resolve and Froggatt carved out a
wonderful opportunity for Keane inside the area only for the youngster to balloon
his shot over the top.
Sorensen, Makin, Butler, Bould, Gray, Summerbeee, Schwarz, Rae, McCann (Oster, 72 mins),
Subs: Ball, Dichio, Helmer, Marriott
Hedman, Breen, Shaw, Breen, Edworthy, Chippo, Hadji (Telfer, 75 mins), McAllister,
Froggatt, Keane, Aloisi (McSheffrey, 83 mins)
Subs: Nuzzo (gk), Konjic, Hall
Sunderland - Phillips (73 mins, crisp volley)
Coventry - Keane (32 mins, rounded keeper to score)
REFEREE: S Lodge (Barnsley)
Sunderland - Bould (46 mins, foul), Rae (76 mins, foul), Phillips (81 mins, dissent)
Coventry Froggatt (60 mins, foul)
SENDING-OFF: Chippo (81mins, two bookable offences)