|[29 APR 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Newcastle United (0) 2
Coventry City (0) 0
BY ADAM DENT
One away game to go one win to get.
A simple equation, but finding a solution may be harder for Coventry City boss Gordon
Strachan to find.
Coventrys failure to win a league game away from Highfield Road will have
stretched back beyond 400 days when they travel to face Watford on the final day of the
season in a fortnights time.
Strachan maintains the away run is more of an embarrassment and irritant but it must
now be doing real harm internally. After reaching safety comparatively early the main aims
have been to finish in the top half of the table and break the hoodoo away from home. The
former is all but impossible and second easily attainable.
Strachan wanted a response after the 5-0 drubbing at West Ham and to a degree he got
it. Still his side did not create enough chances to realistically hope of victory but they
did offer stubborn, if sometimes last ditch, resistance and had reasonable claims for a
The side showed five changes from the team beaten so comprehensively at Upton Park and,
as result, it took them time to settle. For the first 10 minutes or so they had to weather
In the opening seconds, Cedric Roussel gave the ball away to Alan Shearer who in turn
fed Diego Gavelin. The young midfielder returned the favour with a cross which the England
skipper fired just wide of his goal.
The two combined again just seconds later but on that occasion Magnus Hedman made a
superb flying stop.
Once that pressure subsided City began to retain possession and move it forward with
greater precision. Youssef Chippo, starting in the centre of midfield for the first time
this season, put himself around and allowed McAllister to play a more forward role.
But despite getting their game together they again lacked penetration. The passing was
effective only up to a point and they failed to make any impression inside the Newcastle
area. A single Moustapha Hadji shot was virtually all City had to show for their first
Their work looked to have been undone in the opening moments of the second period when
Shearer went down inside the penalty area under pressure from Williams and Shaw, prompting
heated appeals from the Newcastle supporters. Fortunately referee Peter Jones was resolute
and waved away the claims.
The already calamitous injury list grew by one when Roussel was stretchered off just
after the hour with a damaged knee. That caused another reshuffle with John Eustace coming
on to the right and Hadji pushing forward.
City must have been setting their sights on a point when, with 12 minutes left, it all
went wrong in controversial circumstances. Nikolas Dabizas moved forward to join the
attack but when, as City closed ranks, he fired in a shot it struck Noel Whelan on the arm
and Jones pointed straight to the spot. Shearer did the rest to secure his 29th
strike of the season.
That triggered City forward and it proved their undoing. With six minutes left they
were caught short at the back and that allowed Temuri Ketsbaia to square the ball to
Gavilan to net a deserved goal.
So City have to head to Watford and hope they manage to summon up some divine
intervention at Vicarage Road to ensure that they don't finish the season as the only team
in the four divisions not to pick up a league win away from home.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-4-1-1):
Given; Barton, Dabizas, Hughes, Pistone; Gavilan (Griffen, 87 mins), Lee (McClen, 87
mins), Speed, Domi (Ketsbaia, 39 mins); Dyer; Shearer
Subs not used: Maric, Harper
COVENTRY CITY (4-4-2):
Hedman; Shaw, Breen, Williams, Telfer: Whelan (Betts, 87 mins), Chippo, McAllister, Hadji,
Keane (Zuniga, 84 mins), Roussel (Eustace, 64 mins)
Subs not used: Ogrizovic, Fowler
Shearer (78 mins, pen), Gavilan (84 mins)
REFEREE: Peter Jones (Loughborough)
Newcastle - none
Coventry - Williams (26 mins foul), McAllister (80 mins, dissent)
COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Gary Breen determined in