CWN - News & Information for Coventry & Warwickshire 20x21spacer.gif (59 bytes)What's New?Search CWN
Coventry City (0) 2
Chelsea (0) 2

A stunned Gordon Strachan could not believe his own eyes as his Coventry defence twice ‘fell asleep’ to concede equalisers within seconds of taking the lead.

City carried on where they left off against Arsenal on Boxing Day, but no one could have foreseen lightning striking twice in the same place.

Strachan choked back his disappointment to say: 

"I could not believe it. We played brilliantly for 92 minutes and threw it away in thirty seconds of madness."

It was a cruel way to lose out on the three points although at the kick off Coventry probably would have been happy to settle for just one point. They produced a season’s best performance in beating Arsenal 3-2 on Boxing Day but they matched it in this game when they had the star-studded London side on the ropes.

The Belgian under-21 international Cedric Roussel, who gave England’s centre half Tony Adams a chasing on Boxing Day proceeded to do likewise for French World Cup star Marcel Desailly.

Strachan left him in the side alongside Robbie Keane after his Arsenal performance and Desailly must have been the most relieved man on the pitch when the Belgian was substituted in the 87th minute.

Roussel was exhausted by his efforts and fully deserved his standing ovation from the appreciative home fans.

Coventry will surely now try to buy him from Ghent. They have his services on loan to the end of the season, but his price must rise with every good game and soon he could be out of their price range.

He won most of the ball in the air and he scored the second goal – his third in just five full games.

But there were heroes all over the pitch for Coventry. Paul Williams made some timely tackles, Gary McAllister was again a major midfield influence, Carlton Palmer gave no quarter and Moustapha Hadji ran at Chelsea’s defence countless times with thrilling intensity and skill.

The first half produced only a couple of half chances, but there was a lot of skill on view in a game played at a high tempo. Hadji produced the first real effort when he blazed an angled shot across the face of the goal then Chelsea’s goalkeeper Ed De Goey saved superbly from Robbie Keane.

The Irishman allowed Paul Telfer’s throw in to run past him and spun around Desailly to collect Roussel’s flick on. He reached the ball a split second before De Goey, but his toe-poke struck the keeper and cannoned away.

Then Keane read Gianfranco Zola’s intentions to collect the Italian’s pass and fired a low cross to the near post where Roussel was only inches away from the critical touch.

Chelsea finished the half strongly however with Flo missing two good chances in two minutes. He headed Zola’s free kick over from close range, and then repeated the feat from the little Italian’s centre.

But Hadji sent Coventry into the changing rooms in good heart when he almost repeated his brilliant goal against Arsenal by pulling the trigger from the edge of the box, only this time the ball flew wide.

The second half continued at a hectic pace and Keane set the pattern when he volleyed narrowly wide. In quick succession Gary McAllister saw his low cross wrong foot the defence which could only watch in anguish as the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the target, and then Magnus Hedman plucked a volley from Dennis Wise from under his crossbar.

Coventry took the lead in the 54th minute from a spectacular move. Keane, Froggatt, McAllister and Hadji appeared to be well policed as they knocked the ball around between them on the left flank. But suddenly they opened up the defence and Hadji fired in a low shot. The ball was partially blocked and Roussel reacted quickest to hook a left foot shot into the net.

The cheering had not died away however when straight from the kick off Chelsea swept upfield, Zola knocked a ball to Flo in the penalty area and the big man, totally unmarked, clipped his shot into the net.

By a superhuman effort of will and mental strength Coventry summoned their energies however and appeared to have won the game when they took the lead a second time in the 82nd minute.

Paul Telfer swung over a centre from the right, Palmer headed it back across goal and Robbie Keane was perfectly placed to tuck his header into the net off the far post.

But amazingly lightning struck again. Coventry went to sleep straight from the kick off and again Zola found Flo who this time lifted his shot over the diving Hedman.

Many would regard it as a point won by Coventry, but those in Highfield Road knew it was two points lost.

bar-blue-400x3.gif (874 bytes)

Hedman; Telfer, Breen, Williams, Froggatt; Chippo, McAllister, Palmer, Hadji; Roussel (Whelan, 87 mins), Keane
Subs: Ogrizovic (goalkeeper), Normann, Eustace, Gustafsson.

De Goey; Ferrer, Desailly, Thome, Babayoaro; Wise, Zola, Descahmps (Morris, 78 mins), Poyet (Petrescu, 74 mins), Di Matteo (Sutton, 85 mins); Flo
Subs: Lambourde, Cudicini

Roussel (54 mins), Flo (55 mins), Keane (81 mins), Flo (82 mins)

REFEREE: Paul Durkin (Dorset)

Coventry –
Hadji (handball, 57 mins)
Chelsea - Di Matteo (foul, 28 mins)


Roussel – dominated world class defenders

1x22rule.gif (89 bytes)
The Hare and Hounds, Coventry

150x15more.gif (274 bytes)


'Coventry City - the Elite Era' by Jim Brown

[click on the advert below]

Buy all your books online with Amazon

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry - book online!

Alexander Wines, Earlsdon, Coventry

Warwickshire County Council - Our County 1998-2001

CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 4 Jan 00

©1995-2000 Coventry Internet Developments Ltd

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