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Sky Blues Compete But Lose Again

Coventry City’s appalling run of away form continued at Stamford Bridge but despite another travelling reverse, Gordon Strachan headed north a partially satisfied manager.

Strachan will never openly express his satisfaction after a defeat but the level of his side’s performance was far higher than in the recent defeats against Arsenal and Liverpool.

Their fans must have thought their miles of fruitless travelling was about to end when Gary McAllister actually fired the Sky Blues in front but that hope was blown apart by Chelsea just after the break.

Strachan was forced into a significant change after Cedric Roussel twisted a knee in the match with Liverpool and was not included in the squad.

Robbie Keane returned in his place while Barry Quinn, who had an excellent game, replaced his former youth team colleague John Eustace alongside McAllister.

Both sides took time to grow accustomed to the appalling conditions. Rain had fallen on London for most of the day and players were creating splashes even when they warmed up.

Chelsea had created only one real opening when McAllister struck for his 11th goal of the season in the 18th minute.

Colin Hendry won the ball in midfield and continued a run forward after feeding Noel Whelan on the right flank.

When the ball was returned to him he produced a deft back heal allowing McAllister to side foot home past Ed De Goey.

Chelsea offered an immediate response when Tore Andre Flo moved on to a wonderful through-ball from Emerson Thome, but fired wide as Colin Hendry slid in.

Quinn made sure City’s lead stayed in tact six minutes from the break when he produced a superb goal-saving challenge to deny Gianfranco Zola just as the Italian was preparing to side foot the ball home.

Coventry also managed to weather a late storm when Jon Harley headed the ball into a crowded area and Gustavo Poyet fired just wide.

City’s lead was not undeserved but when Chelsea stepped up the pace and the Sky Blues sat deeper, a home goal seemed inevitable.

Four minutes into the second half the home side brought on Gabriele Ambrosetti and George Weah and the two were highly influential in the Chelsea’s comeback.

The Italian, signed from Vicenza last season, crossed in low from the left and although the Liberian missed the ball it eluded Magnus Hedman but hit Hendry and dribbled over the line.

For the next few minutes Coventry’s nervousness at being in front was transformed into tangible apprehension and when Zola put Coventry in front four minutes later after a slip from the otherwise immaculate Richard Shaw, there looked only one result.

Zola did have the ball in the net again but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Coventry showed far more spirit than they had displayed against Liverpool and did press to find a way back into the game.

The nearest they came to an equaliser came when McAllister fired an angled shot just wide.

So yet another away defeat and with games against West Ham and Newcastle on the horizon, it may not come until the final day against Watford.

Chelsea: De Goey; Petrescu, Leboeuf, Thome, Harley, Di Matteo (Dalla Bona, 55 mins ), Wise, Morris, Poyet  (Ambrosetti, 49 mins ) Flo (Weah, 49 mins) Zola. Subs: Hitchock, Hogh.

Coventry City: Hedman, Telfer, Shaw, Hendry, Froggatt, Chippo, Quinn, McAllister, Hadji (Burrows, 78 mins), Whelan (Zuniga, 76 mins), Keane. Subs: Breen, Ogrizovic, Eustace.

Goals: McAllister (18), Hendry (og 53), Zola (57).

Bookings (NONE)

Attendance: 32,316.

Man of the match: McAllister – determined show. 

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'Coventry City - the Elite Era' by Jim Brown

CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 13 Apr 00

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