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The Sky Blues will be happy with an away point, but Steve Froggatt knows he should have earned his side their first away victory of the season.

The left back who lives down the road from Pride Park at Lichfield had the chance of the match in the 73rd minute, but his effort cannoned off the post.

A goal at that stage would have finished Derby County whose fans were catcalling and ridiculing their efforts to break down a solid looking Sky Blues defence.

In all it was a fine effort by Gordon Strachan’s much-weakened team. The purists had much to complain about, but this was never going to be a match for them.

Coventry had eight first team players missing, including three of their much vaunted four man midfield, but one thing Strachan’s current teams do display is resilience.

He made one change from the side that beat Wimbledon the previous week, bringing in his son Gavin for the suspended Carlton Palmer.

The youngster could never bring Palmer’s combative edge to the midfield area, but he showed he could pass the ball and played a full part before being substituted by the young Irishman Barry Quinn after 76 minutes.

John Eustace, the highly promising reserve midfielder, played his second successive game out of position wide on the right and he did nothing to tarnish his growing reputation. In fact two of the three half chances of a scrappy first half were created by him.

In the 17th minute Frogatt crossed from the left touchline and Cedric Roussel athletically struck a first time volley, but Derby’s goalkeeper Mart Poom flew across his goal to pull out a save.

Then near half time Eustace tricked his way past Seth Johnson and crossed perfectly into the goalmouth only for the strikers to be queueing at the far post, too far from the ball.

A couple of minutes later Roussel was slow to read the situation so that he was a yard off the pace when the youngster knocked in a clever ball to the near post.

Derby’s only worthwhile chance of the first half fell to their striker Deon Burton after 25 minutes. Branko Strupar played the ball upfield, Craig Burley chested it down and television replays showed that Burton was clearly offside.

But he was allowed to run on and justice was done when he crashed his shot against the cross bar.

The second half was much more of a match with most of the chances falling to Coventry.

The best was when Froggatt joined the attack in the 73rd minute. Eustace made a tigerish challenge in the penalty area and the ball broke for Froggatt.

The defence hesitated, believing that he was offside, but again the flag stayed down. Froggatt swivelled on the spot and flashed in a left foot volley, but to his dismay the ball came back off the upright with the goalkeeper rooted on his line.

Before then however the left back, who is trying his hardest to force himself into Kevin Keegan’s next England squad, frequently joined in the attacks but often was let down by his final ball into the goalmouth.

Most of the chances were falling at the Derby end, but the Sky Blues could not make the final pass tell. They had one last chance in stoppage time when Robbie Keane was bowled over on the edge of the area, but free-kick expert Gary McAllister fired his shot over the target.

Strachan was in joking mood in the after match media exchanges. When he was asked if goalkeeper Magnus Hedman had touched Burton’s first half shot against the crossbar he replied:

"He is claiming that he did, but we are talking about his contract just now and he is claiming everything."

And when a journalist asked when the two Peruvian signings would be joining the club, he grinned and said:

"I have no idea. The chairman deals with high altitude signings."

On a more serious note the City manager said:

"Our young players are doing well. I keep hearing about teams with three or four players out. We had eight missing today but we don’t make too much of it. We just get on with it."

Another questioner referred to the fact that Coventry have still not won away from home but Strachan replied:

"Look at our record. We have only been beaten three times away from home.

"We try to win. We did not come here with four centre backs and only one striker. We had players running into attacking positions from all over the pitch."

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DERBY (3-5-2):
Poom; Carbonari, Elliott (Kinkladze, 45 mins) Laursen; Schnoor, Delap, Burley, Bohinen, Johnson; Strupar, Burton (Christie, 80 mins)
Subs: Nimni, Boertien, Oakes

COVENTRY (4-4-2):
Hedman; Telfer, Breen, Williams, Froggatt; Eustace (Gustafsson, 80 mins), McAllister, Strachan (Quinn, 76 mins), Whelan, Keane, Roussel
Subs: Ogrizovic, Shaw, Normann

REFEREE: Graham Barber (Tring)



COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Steve Froggatt – always prompting

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 22 Jan 00

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