This was fabulous entertainment or a catalogue of
defensive disasters depending on your point of view.
But, at the end of an afternoon of see-saw action, goal attempts and dubious
refereeing, Coventry City left with nothing save an overwhelming feeling of frustration.
Twice they took the lead and then, once Leeds had come storming back, managed to level
again only to see the point snatched away from them in controversial style.
Gordon Strachan was forced to make changes after Gary Breen picked up a groin injury on
international duty and chose to play Marc Edworthy at left back and Barry Quinn on the
other side of the defence.
He could not have hoped for a better start. Less than a minute had passed when Gary
McAllister, Coventrys man of the match, forced his way into the Leeds area only for
David Hopkin to handle.
Referee Steve Dunn, who did not have a comfortable or convincing afternoon, pointed to
the spot and McAllister showed his customary cool.
It was not a long-held lead and within six minutes the visitors were back on terms. Lee
Bowyer, McAllisters midfield successor at Elland Road, got a break when his shot was
blocked and came straight back to him. He made no mistake with the second attempt.
The open start had set the tone and McAllister put City back in front with a
demonstration of his dead ball prowess. His curling free kick landed on John Aloisis
head and the Aussie guided a header past Nigel Martyn.
Darren Huckerby, back at Highfield Road for the first time since his £5.5 million move
to Leeds, had been an anonymous figure in the opening period but he struck for the first
time in the 25th minute.
England bad boy David Batty rolled the ball into his path and, as Magnus Hedman
appeared to hesitate, the speed merchant toed the ball into the corner of the net.
The big Swede was also at fault for the goal which gave Leeds the advantage. He failed
to get a convincing punch on a cross, directing the ball to Batty who he then brought down
as he tried to retrieve the situation. Ian Harte scored from the spot.
That could well have finished Coventry but, to their credit, they came back in the most
spectacular style. Moustapha Hadji flicked the ball into the path of his fellow countryman
Youssef Chippo and he smashed a fierce 25 yard volley past Nigel Martyn and into the roof
of the net.
There were still over 30 minutes left so another goal was almost inevitable. It went to
Leeds. Five minutes later Steve Froggatt was out-muscled by Danny Mills and Leeds tore
away down field.
Harry Kewells shot hit Hedmans right post and bounced back to Michael
Bridges who, despite standing in an offside position, was able to stroke the ball into the
Coventry tried everything to come back but it was beyond them. Hadji went close and
pulled a save out of Martyn, and Strachan threw on Gary McSheffrey but to no avail.
Now City have to go to Tranmere on Tuesday without the services of the cup-tied Robbie
Keane and possibly Aloisi who picked up a knee injury and was taken off at half time.
Hedman, Quinn (Gavin Strachan, 75 mins), Shaw, Williams, Edworthy, Chippo, Hadji,
McAllister, Froggatt (McSheffrey, 75 mins); Aloisi (Hall, 45 mins), Keane
Subs: Nuzzo (gk), Konjic
Martyn, Mills, Duberry (Woodgate, 64 mins), Radebe, Harte (Kelly, 62 mins); Hopkin, Batty,
Bowyer, Kewell; Bridges, Huckerby
Subs: Haaland, Robinson, Jones
Coventry - McAllister (penalty, 2 mins), Aloisi (17 mins), Chippo (54 mins)
Leeds - Bowyer (7 mins), Huckerby (25 mins), Harte (penalty, 34 mins), Bridges (59 mins)
REFEREE: Steve Dunn (Bristol)
Coventry Hadji (foul, 11 mins), Quinn (foul, 53 mins), McAllister (encroaching, 70
Leeds - Hopkin (foul, 69 mins), Mills (dissent, 72 mins)