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Coventry City (1) 1
Middlesbrough (1) 3

The Sky Blues got off to the worst possible start to the season going down by a two goal margin and having new boy David Thompson sent off.


15 min Deane hits the bar
19 min Job heads home Boksic's left wing cross
22 min Boksic's headed goal disallowed
41 min Eustace equalises with a near post header
59 min City's defence asleep at a free-kick and Boksic scores at the second attempt
62 min Pallister's through ball is chipped over Hedman by Boksic
71 min Thompson is shown a second yellow card and is ordered off. Unclear whether it is for a foul on Ince or kicking the ball away

FAN'S REPORT by David Beidas

Well, it doesn't take long for the pre-season optimisim to fade. About 90 minutes, to be precise.

Apart from a good spell in the last 20 minutes of the first half, City were second best and the result was a fair reflection of the game.

Another warm and sunny afternoon at Highfield Road. We lined up our usual 4-4-2: Hedman in goal, back four of Hall, Williams, Hendry and Breen; midfield of Thompson, Palmer, Eustace and Chippo; and Roussel and Bellamy up front.

The early minutes were a bit frantic, but then Middlesboro began to get a grip on the game and to push forward. For us Thompson was looking quite sharp on the right, prepared to run at people and wanting the ball.

We had our first lucky escape when Eustace managed to pass to a Boro player on the edge of our area - he passed to the unmarked Deane who tried to chip the ball over the advancing Hedman but only managed to clip the bar.

Not long after they won a freekick just outside the area, we lined up a wall but the ball was slipped down the left channel to Boksic, who ran to the byline and crossed for Job to nod the ball in from about eight yards out.

City then went completely to pieces for a few minutes, looking very rattled. Boro won another freekick in a similar area, this one was floated over and nodded in. For some reason it was disallowed.

The ref, Barry Knight, was a bit fussy and started to give some yellows, first to Williams, then to Thompson after a tackle on Ince. Karembeu got one after a spell in the middle where the tackles were flying in left, right and centre.

Gradually however City began to put a bit of a game together, using the width of the pitch more, with Hall getting down the left and Thompson down the right.

We won a few corners, but could not make anything of them. Bellamy chased one lost cause to the byline and pulled it back across the face of the goal, but Boro managed to clear it.

John Eustace, Coventry City FCYou felt the pressure was going to lead somewhere and we duly equalised just before half time. Thompson had beaten his player down the right, saw Eustace making a run from the edge of the area and sent a perfect cross through the six yard box which Eustace duly headed in.

There were no team changes at half-time and the second half saw Boro really begin to assert their superiority.

Our passing was poor, players were drifting out of position, we had no width and inevitably began to be reduced to the old long ball hoofed up by Williams.

The defence was struggling, with Hendry looking lost. At one point under no pressure he played a terribly sloppy pass to Breen on the right which just went straight out. There were calls for Shaw to replace him.

Bellamy showed some pace and a good first touch - he's not Robbie Keane, but there is some promise there.

Thomson was committed, energetic and our best player, driving us forward. Chippo looked slightly lost and Eustace was not having one of his better days.

We conceded two goals in the space of a couple of minutes around the hour mark.

First, we were all lined up on the eighteen yard line, a ball was played over the top and Boro got to it first. Hedman blocked the first shot, but Boksic slotted home the second. There were appeals for offside, but the linesman kept his flag down.

Then Pallister broke from defence and, just outside our area, slipped a perfect pass for Boksic to run on to and fire a shot to which Hedman got his hand, but not enough to stop it going into the net.

How on earth a central defender was allowed to get to the edge of our area, heaven only knows.

Telfer came on for Eustace after he'd given the ball away once too often.

David Thompson, Coventry City FCThen the afternoon went completely pear-shaped a few minutes later when Thompson received his second yellow card and was sent off.

I couldn't really see what for; from the East Stand it looked like he'd won the ball in a fair tackle. The fact that the Boro players were all commiserating with him on his slow march off suggested that they thought he'd been unfairly dealt with as well. Certainly the crowd were baying for the ref's blood.

The rest of the game was academic. Boro played keepball for much of it, every pass cheered by their supporters.

Palmer was booked, Whelan replaced Boksic.

The former City player had two great chances, one when he turned and shot from a central position twelve yards out, the other when he ran into the area from a wide position and was through on Hedman. He put both wide.

Aloisi came on for Breen, Telfer dropping to right back. We didn't create any more chances and the final whistle was a mercy.

Best forgotten, but the signs are not good.

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MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

Hedman: Breen (Aloisi, 80), Hall, Palmer, Hendry, Williams, Thompson, Eustace (Telfer, 70), Roussel, Bellamy, Chippo
Subs: Kirkland, Shaw, Zuniga

Schwarzer: Fleming, O’Neill, Vickers, Pallister (Gavin, 80), Cooper, Karembeu, Ince, Boksic (Whelan, 76), Deane, Job (Okon, 83)
Subs: Crossley, Ricard

Coventry - Eustace (41)
Charlton - Job (19), Boksic (59, 62)

REFEREE: B Knight (Orpington)

Coventry - Williams (21), Eustace (39), Palmer (46), Breen (58), Thompson (67)
Middlesbrough - Boksic (44), Cooper (55), Ince (69)

SENDING OFF: Thompson (71) - two yellow cards


Thompson is the first ever Coventry player to be sent off on his league debut.


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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 19 Aug 00
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