|[22 NOV 99] COVENTRY CITY FC MATCH
REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (1) 2
Aston Villa (1) 1
BY ADAM DENT
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 Villas 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
Youre 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
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 Keanes 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 Villas 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 Dublins 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 goalkeepers 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
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.
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