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Coventry City (3) 3
Tranmere Rovers (1) 1

Aggregate score: Coventry City 4   Tranmere Rovers 6

Gordon Strachan got the committed display he had demanded from his players, but they could not score enough goals to retrieve last week’s 5-1 debacle at Prenton Park and went out of this competition for another year.

But the Coventry manager expressed satisfaction at his side’s display and said:

"The world is a happier place for three days."

At the end of that period West Ham United visit Highfield Road in the league but Coventry will go into that in much better heart after this committed performance.

Youssef Chippo scored twice and an admiring Strachan said:

"He was phenomenal. I really think he is a top, top player."

He added:

"Come to Highfield Road and you will see some great goals and good football. We have just got to stop leaking goals. We did it again tonight and we have somehow got to stop it."

But the outspoken Scot refused to be drawn on referee Trevor Jones’ showing. Asked about a disallowed penalty kick in the second half he said:

"I saw it like everyone else. The Tranmere player appeared to panic and flapped his hand at it."

Refereee Jones clearly saw the hand ball. He indicated as such by tapping his own arm, but he gave the decision to Tranmere by awarding them a free kick.

The Coventry players were incensed and chased him up the pitch in disbelief. Strachan would only say:

"It seems a shame that I can be criticised for a bad performance but referees cannot.

"This referee will have better games and so will I."

Strachan slapped a gag on his players after the 5-1 debacle at Prenton Park saying:

"Anything we say will sound like excuses or self pity. We must do our talking on the pitch."

His side did that alright. They blitzed the First Division team with some terrific free-flowing football and three wonder goals, but they missed the experience of the injured strikers Noel Whelan and John Aloisi and the goal grabbing skills of 6 million signing Robbie Keane who was cup tied.

Gary McAllister netted with a blistering 30 yard strike after 25 minutes, but the jubilant had hardly retaken their seats when Scott Taylor rose to glance in John Mahon’s free kick for an equaliser. It made Coventry’s task even more monumental and was probably the decisive goal of the two legs.

The Sky Blues remustered and subjected their opponents to such relentless pressure that the Liverpool side buckled twice in the last thirty seconds of the half.

Chippo repeated McAllister’s feat with a stunning long range strike and then inside a minute popped up in the goalmouth to deflect Marcus Hall’s powerfully struck shot into the net.

The stage seemed set for a grandstand finish for the Sky Blues but they could not find a way through in the second half hard though they tried. If the penalty had been awarded with thirty minutes left they might well have gone on to get the necessary margin to see them through.

But Tranmere hung on and Strachan was left to reflect on what might have been. But he announced his satisfaction at the performance of his players and apart from Keane’s return against West Ham, he might not have to make too many changes.

There were fine debuts from teenaged goalkeeper Chris Kirkland and Carlton Palmer on loan from Nottingham Forest who did the job that Strachan wanted.

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Kirkland; Edworthy, Shaw, Konjic, Hall; Telfer, McAllister, Palmer, Chippo; Hadji, McSheffrey (Eustace, 82 mins)
Subs: Nuzzo, Williams, Strachan, Ferguson

Aachterberg; Hill, Challinor, Yates, Roberts; Thompson, Allen, Morgan, Mahon; Taylor (Parkinson, 75 mins), Kelly
Subs: Jones, Murphy, Parkinson, Frail, Black

Coventry - McAllister (25 mins), Chippo (44 mins, 45 mins)
Tranmere - Taylor (26 mins)

REFEREE: Trevor Jones (Barrow-in-Furness)

Coventry – Hadji (foul, 16 mins), Palmer (foul, 28 mins)
Tranmere – Challinor (foul, 35 mins), Roberts (foul, 37 mins), Taylor (dissent, 45 mins), Allen (foul, 67 mins)


Youssef Chippo – a magnificent match in every way

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 22 Sep 99

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