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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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.