|[15 APR 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (1) 2
Middlesbrough (0) 1
BY ADAM DENT
scored his most controversial goal of the season to clinch the points which probably
ensure Coventry's Premier league safety.
Middlesbrough protested bitterly that the young
Irishman was offside when he was played through for his goal in the 61st minute. In the
ensuing melee Middlesbrough's manager Bryan Robson was seen gesticulating at Scunthorpe
referee Neale Barry from the touchline in front of the dug out.
The word from the changing room area later was that the
match official had told Robson he would be reported for his remarks. There was no
confirmation but certainly there were comments from both sides about the competence of the
Barry seemed incapable of spotting the incautious use of
arms by Boro's central defender Gianluca Festa and the striker Brian Deane. Festa twice
caught Keane across the face in the opening minutes and Deane caught Coventry's defender
Colin Hendry on a couple of occasions.
And one of the linesmen missed three blatant offsides in
the first half and even failed to award a throw in when the ball had crossed the touchline
by a couple of feet.
It made for a messy first half with players appealing for a
free-kick virtually every time they fell over. There was little to warm the crowd on a
bitterly cold afternoon and even Coventry's first goal in the 31st minute had a strong
flavour or luck.
Noel Whelan carved out a chance for Keane with a neat 1-2
and the Irishman squeezed into the penalty area before pulling the trigger. Boro's
goalkeeper Mazrk Schwarzer did well to get in a brave block from close range, but to his
dismay and Coventry's delight, the ball ricocheted off his body and flew into the net off
his skipper Paul Ince's body.
The second half was almost a different game with the teams
at last settling down to try to play their football. The stage was set in the opening
sixty seconds when John Eustace, Coventry's ebullient young midfielder, charged into the
area to fire a close range shot which was blocked by Schwarzer.
The youngster, who was rested by manager Gordon Strachan in
the midweek match at Chelsea, was full of energy and clearly relishing the contest with
'The Guvnor' Ince in the midfield engine room.
But he hung his head in shame in the 52nd minute when David
Burrows, on the field for the injured Youssef Chippo, swung across a near perfect centre.
Eustace appeared surprised when the ball landed at his feet just a few feet from goal and
he hurriedly stabbed at it only to scoop the ball straight to the goalkeeper.
It was Gary McAllister's turn to show disappointment three
minutes later when Middlesbrough's central defenders made a hash of a goalmouth clearance
and the ball fell to the Scot. He pivotted and lashed his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
But it came right for Coventry in the 61st minute when they
produced the move of the match to go further ahead.
Noel Whelan charged down an attempted clearance and was
first to react to the bouncing ball. He stabbed it beyond Middlesbrough's back line and
Keane raced to the edge of the penalty area before slotting the perfect shot into the far
corner of the net.
It was his 14th goal of the season and underlined that he
is almost back to his best form since his knee ligament injury.
But just when it looked as though Coventry were at last in
control they almost let it slip. Andy Campbell was charging into the Coventry area when he
was chopped down from behind by Eustace and referee Barry pointed to the penalty spot.
Christian Ziege stepped up to plant his left foot shot past
goalkeeper Magnus Hedman's right hand.
Boro tried to step up the pressure in search of an
equaliser, but Coventry's back line, so fragile at Chelsea in midweek, stood firm. The
home side might have gone even further ahead near the end when Moustaph Hadji forced
Schwarzer into a flying finger tip save from a clever back header.
Hedman, Telfer, Breen, Hendry, Froggatt, Hadji, McAllister, Eustace, Chippo (Burrows, 26
mins), Keane, Whelan
Subs: Williams, Quinn, Zuniga, Ogrizovic (gk)
Schwarzer, Fleming (Stamp, 60 mins), Vickers, Festa, Ziege, Mustoe, Ince, Summerbell
(Juninho, 60 mins), Campbell (Stockdale, 88 mins), Ricard, Deane
Subs: Gavin, Beresford (gk)
Ince (own goal, 31 mins), Keane (61 mins), Ziege (penalty, 64 mins)
REFEREE: Neale Barry (Scunthorpe)
Coventry - Eustace (69 mins, foul), Breen (77 mins, foul)
Middlesbrough - Ince (62 mins, dissent), Vickers (79 mins, foul)
COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Keane - well taken goal