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Coventry City (0) 1
Everton (0) 0

Coventry’s manager Gordon Strachan billed it as a veterans’ match when he looked at the ages of several players on the pitch and it was a golden oldie who got the winner.

Gary McAllister, Coventry City FCA huge roar of relief greeted Gary McAllister’s goal just four minutes from the end, Coventry’s first score in more than eight hours of football spanning five matches.

They had failed to find the net in losing their previous four league games and were in danger of being dragged down into the relegation dogfight.

Now they go into Saturday’s home match against bottom-three side Bradford City, with a huge boost to their confidence knowing that another victory would virtually make them safe from the drop.

Everton played well in this match and could easily have had a couple of goals, but Coventry overcame a jittery start to grow stronger and stronger through the second half with Cedric Roussel a tower of strength as the target man through the middle.

He won virtually every high ball that was pumped down to him by his centrebacks and goalkeeper Magnus Hedman and he was unlucky not to come away with two goals. He shot against the post in the 75th minute and it was when his header came back off the post that McAllister scored.

McAllister too had a magnificent match while of the defenders Richard Shaw looked the most composed and assured.

Before the match Gordon Strachan had joked that the match would be like Jurassic Park because there were so many ‘senior’ players on view.

He was referring to McAllister (35) and Colin Hendry (34) in his own team and Richard Gough (38) and Mark Hughes (36) for Everton. But all of them gave as good as they got and there was a big grin on Hendry’s face as he trudged off, a winner on his home debut.

Coventry had a poor first half, they looked anxious, they were wary of the ball coming to them and they misplaced many passes. Yet they had the two best chances.

The first fell to Noel Whelan in the goalmouth following McAllister’s centre, but instead of knocking the ball to the well placed Youssef Chippo, he swivelled and hit a tame shot straight at goalkeeper Paul Gerrard.

Then, as confidence began to flow, Moustapha Hadji drifted off the left wing to pop up on the right and his low cross to the near post was met perfectly by Roussel only for the ball to cannon away off Gerrard’s legs.

The first chance of the second half fell to Everton in the 62nd minute. Richard Gough powered in a close range header but Hedman, tumbling backwards, managed to flick the ball over the target.

Coventry then began to produce the sort of attacking football through which they had thrilled their fans for most of the season. With Hadji’s rapier-like thrusts and McAllister running midfield they began to open up Everton with more frequency.

Always it was Roussel who was in the thick of the action and after Hadji (twice) and Whelan had tested Gerrard with powerful shots, the Belgian had the crowd leaping to its feet with a neat piece of skill.

He headed the ball over his marker ran past him and then swept a left foot shot past Gerrard only to see it come back of the upright. It seemed Whelan, following in, must score, but Gerrard reached the ball a fraction of a second sooner and the danger was cleared.

David Burrows, who like a true pro battled manfully through a bad form patch through the first half, came to his side’s rescue in the 82nd minute when he headed off his goal line and then came the winner.

Whelan centred from the left flank and the unlucky Roussel saw his header strike the post only this time the ball dropped straight to McAllister’s feet just a yard from goal and he prodded it into the net. It was game over.

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COVENTRY (4-4-2):
Hedman, Gustafsson, Hendry, Shaw, Burrows; Chippo, McAllister, Eustace (Zuniga, 81 mins), Hadji; Roussel, Whelan
Subs: Hyldgaard (gk), Breen, Normann, Quinn

EVERTON (4-4-2):
Gerrard, Dunne, Weir, Gough, Collins; Barmby (Gemmill, 81 mins), Xavier, S Hughes (Unsworth, 70 mins), Pembridge; M Hughes, Moore (Cadamarteri, 66 mins)
Subs: Myhri (gk),Ward

GOALS: McAllister (86 mins)

REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)



COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Cedric Roussel – tireless display

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 15 Mar 00

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