A goal eight minutes from the end settled a scrappy,
messy match in which both sides failed to produce at crucial moments.
Chris Armstrong headed the winner from a corner kick, but it was typical of the game
that even then the ball trickled over the line as Coventry desperately tried to keep it
The match must have been an eye opener for Coventrys new signing, the Peruvian
international striker Ysrael Zuniga, who sat in the stands to witness his first match in
Coventry could have done with the 23 year old South American Golden Boot winner on the
pitch as they squandered glorious chances to wrap up the points.
The youngster, who flew into the country on Thursday, was taken out during the morning
of the match to buy some warm clothing, certainly there was little in this match to warm
anyone in the Highfield Road crowd.
Coventry began with several disadvantages, notably the number of absentees on the
Gordon Strachan had to make three changes from the defeat at Middlesbrough with John
Eustace, Gary Breen and Noel Whelan replacing the injured Carlton Palmer, Tomas Gustafsson
and Cedric Roussel.
Another five first team players are in various stages of rehabilitation from injuries
and Strachan is down to the bare bones of his squad, a situation made worse when Paul
Williams was substituted at half time because of a calf muscle injury.
New centreback Colin Hendry, signed yesterday from Glasgow Rangers could find himself
in the action quicker than he anticipated.
As the match unfolded it became clear that Roussel was probably missed most of all. The
big Belgian striker has not only been scoring goals, but he wins plenty of aerial ball,
something which Coventry notably failed to do against the formidable Sol Campbell, who was
head and shoulders the man of the match.
Even so Coventry squeezed out three good chances before Spurs scored.
The first fell to Noel Whelan who was in acres of space in the 28th minute,
but he steadied himself to chip the goalkeeper and his hesitation was sufficient to allow
Chris Perry to get in the deflection.
Then in the 35th minute, after long spells of appalling passing and mistimed
shots on a poor pitch, Coventry produced the best move seen at Highfield Road in many a
Eustace started the move, it was carried on by Youssef Chippo, Richard Shaw, Noel
Whelan (twice), Robbie Keane (twice) and Keanes final pass to Moustapha Hadji was
exquisitely directed so that the Moroccan had only to shoot home from a couple of yards.
But he appeared to scuff his shot and Spurs goalkeeper Ian Walker was able to scramble
across his goal to somehow smother the ball.
Hadji had another, not so easy, chance in the 61st minute when he shot from
an acute angle and again Walker was able to make the save.
In the 79th minute Coventry again should have gone in front. Whelan
collected the ball racing out of his own half and he placed the perfect pass into Robbie
But the Irishman, the clubs top scorer who scored the winner for the Republic of
Ireland against Czechoslovakia in midweek, raced into the box and then blazed his effort
into the crowd.
It was becoming inevitable that the first team to score would win the game and so it
Spurs forced a corner in the 82nd minute and from the flag kick Armstrong,
arriving late, powered in a downward header which Magnus Hedman only half stopped and then
desperately to scramble away as the ball trickled over his line.
The Spurs man almost scored a second four minutes later when Gary Breen slipped as he
tried to clear, but this time Hedman was able to block the shot with his legs.