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Coventry City (1) 1
West Ham United (0) 0

He didn’t score, but Robbie Keane was showered with fulsome praise by his manager and fellow professionals after Coventry City ground out their second victory in four days.

Gordon Strachan told the gathered media, and anyone else who cared to listen:

"Robbie Keane is definitely one of the greatest talents in British football.

"He is better than I realised when I bought him and he can go right to the top.

"Every manager we play against says he would love to have him in his side. He is doing things not many British players are capable of doing.

"It might sound crazy to outsiders, but I say people should watch Coventry just to see Robbie play."

Strachan also had time to talk about Moustapha Hadji, the man the fans have dubbed the ‘magical Moroccan’.

"Moustapha feels he has not produced goals for us, but he got one today which will help him along, but importantly he has kept working extremely hard."

Hadji’s goal in the 37th minute came as the result of piece of stupidity by West Ham’s centreback Igor Stimac. There was no danger when Robbie Keane ran the ball out for a West Ham throw in near the right hand corner flag.

But Stimac could not resist giving the Coventry man a nudge in the back. He then argued so long and so forcibly with referee David Elleray’s decision to give Coventry a free kick that he was shown a yellow card.

Then to complete Stimac’s discomfiture, Coventry’s captain Gary McAllister swung over the free-kick and Hadji escaped his marker to loop a header into the net.

The air must have been a deep shade of blue in the West Ham changing room at half-time but worse was to come for the London side. In the 71st minute McAllister won the ball fairly from John Moncur, but the niggled West Ham player appeared to make contact with his boot as McAllister lay on the floor and Mr Elleray had no hesitation in showing him his second yellow card of the match.

Moncur trudged to the changing rooms with the jeers of the Coventry fans ringing in his ears and knowing that he just might have ruined his side’s chances of salvaging anything from the match.

As it turned out Coventry, as usual, tried to defend their slender lead and once or twice paid for defending too close to their own goal.

Magnus Hedman produced a cat-like reflex save to flip Frank Lampard’s first time shot over the crossbar and then bravely blocked Paulo Wanchope’s effort from point blank range.

But the Sky Blues had their moments and Youssef Chippo almost scored in the 41st minute when Shaka Hislop raced off his goal line and found himself yards outside his area. He blocked Hadji’s attempt to fire at the open goal, but Chippo got his effort away only to see Steve Potts block it on the goalline.

All in all it was a scrappy match but Coventry and their fans will not mind that. They have had their fill for the moment of flowing football with lots of goals that have ended in defeats.

This was only their second clean sheet in the league and it brought their second victory. They now travel to play Everton at Goodison next weekend in good heart.

Carlton Palmer must wander what the fuss was about. The England midfielder, on loan from Nottingham Forest, has now played two games and has been on the winning side each time. His debut was in the midweek Worthington Cup victory over Tranmere Rovers.

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Hedman, Edworthy, Shaw, Konjic, M Hall, Telfer, McAllister (McSheffrey, 84 mins), Palmer, Chippo (Williams, 61 mins), Hadji, Keane
Subs: Nuzzo, Gavin Strachan, Eustace

Hislop, Potts, Stimac, Lomas, Sinclair, Foe, Lampard, Moncur, Keller (Newton, 77 mins), Di Canio, Wanchope
Subs: Forrest (gk), Kitson, Carrick, Forbes

Coventry -  Hadji (37 mins)

REFEREE: David Elleray (Harrow on the Hill)

Coventry – Edworthy (16 mins, foul), Chippo (41 mins, foul), Palmer (75 mins, foul)
West Ham – Wanchope (4 mins, dissent), Stimac (36 mins, dissent), Moncur (48 mins, 71 mins – both fouls)



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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 25 Sep 99

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