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Coventry City (1) 2
Aston Villa (1) 1

Beleaguered Villa manager John Gregory said the jury was out on Robbie Keane before this match, but the player delivered his verdict.

The Irish teenager made the first goal for Coventry, scored the second and generally tormented Villa’s defence to distraction.

Chants of ‘Keano’ and ‘Are You Watching Gregory’ rang out around Highfield Road Stadium and as the final whistle came closer the fans began to sing ‘You’re Getting the Sack in the Morning’ as the Villa manager stood forlornly in front of the dugout.

It was not a classic match but the points were the crucial prize and the victory leapfrogged City over their great West Midland rivals. It was their first win over Villa at Highfield Road for seven years and it stretched their current unbeaten run to eight matches.

It also meant that Carlton Palmer, signed from Nottingham Forest for 500,000 has yet to finish on the losing side.

But while the fans chanted Keane’s name at the end, they also gave a standing ovation to his new strike partner Cedric Roussel.

At last they have a big man up front in the Dion Dublin mould. He is not as accomplished in the air as the England man, but he is only 21 and he links the line well.

He did well in a difficult match charged with tension and he gave Sky Blues the perfect start with a goal in the seventh minute.

It was made by Youssef Chippo and Keane. The Moroccan opened up Villa’s right flank with a slide rule pass. Keane collected it and jinked into the penalty area before centring for the Belgian to head home from point blank range.

Villa had a couple of moments early on, first when Dublin’s powerful header hit the ground and bounced over the cross bar and it looked like a penalty when Paul Williams brought down Julian Joachim.

But after the goal Coventry dominated the half. Keane thought he had scored when he flipped the ball over David James, but it deflected off the goalkeeper’s shoulder and hit the inside of the post and bounced along the goalline. Chippo then forced James into a flying save to keep out his 25 yarder.

It was against the run of play when Villa equalised in the 41st minute. Steve Stone flighted his corner kick to the near post where Dublin outmuscled Paul Williams to plant his header firmly into the net.

The match was nicely poised but it was Coventry who had the firepower to claim the three points.

Inevitably the winning goal was scored by Keane. Chippo swept past Mark Delaney at full back and cleverly flicked the ball into the goalmouth where Keane swept it home.

How John Gregory must wish he had gone the extra yard to buy Keane from Wolverhampton Wanderers. He pulled out of the bidding at 5.5 million and it was Coventry who found the extra 500,000 to bring the Irish teenager to Highfield Road. He has repaid them with seven goals in twelve games and there are many who feel that transfer was the beginning of the end for the Villa manager.

He faces a ‘cup final’ at Everton on Saturday, while Coventry look forward to another local derby against Leicester City at Highfield Road.

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Hedman, Telfer, Breen, Williams, M Hall, Hadji, McAllister, Palmer, Chippo (Burrows, 89 mins), Keane, Roussel (Whelan, 87 mins)
Subs: Konjic, Eustace, Ogrizovic (gk)

James, Wright, Southgate, Boateng, Taylor, Dublin, Joachim (Vassell, 75 mins), Hendrie, Delaney (Watson, 75 mins), Stone, Calderwood
Subs: Merson, Carbone, Enckleman (gk)

Coventry City - Roussel 7 mins, Keane 65 mins
Aston Villa - Dublin 41 mins

REFEREE: Graham Barber (Tring, Herts)

Coventry – Telfer (foul)
Aston Villa – Hendrie (dissent), Taylor (foul), Boateng (foul)


COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Keane – headline maker yet again

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Coventry's Agenda 21

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

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