OCT 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH
REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Chelsea (2) 6
Coventry City (0) 1
Coventry capitulated to Chelsea with their
worse defeat for almost a decade and the sending off of their
stand-in goalkeeper Kirkland.
REPORT by Chris Sampson
Thankfully matches like this only
come along once every decade.
The Sky Blues were totally
outplayed and the magnitude of the thrashing was exaggerated by
a risible reffing decision by Stephen Lodge and some mystifying
tactics by Strachan.
City lined up with Kirkland in
goal, back four of Edworthy, Breen, Williams and Telfer;
midfield Hadji on the left, centre of Palmer and Chippo and
Eustace on the right; up front we had in-form Aloisi and
The first 10 minutes were a
nightmare. It was clear from the start that the midfield was
being completely overrun. Eustace looked completely lost out
wide - I thought he'd been playing well in the centre, so why
Strachan had shuffled positions was a mystery.
With Bellamy and Aloisi hardly
getting a kick and City launching no attacks whatsoever, the
pressure was on the defence. The full backs were getting roasted
and there was intolerable pressure on the centre halves.
Williams got in a couple of
blocks, Breen made a few well-timed tackles, and Kirkland made
one great save. We were also thankful that Hasselbaink looked
well off form - he had two great early chances and banged them
both nearer the corner flag than the goal.
The alarm bells were ringing
almost from the first minute, and after 20 minutes disaster duly
Hasselbaink broke the offside
trap and was clean through on goal. Kirkland charged out and
looked to have got a hand to the ball, pushing it wide to a
safer position. Hasselbaink ran over the outstretched arm and
collapsed in a heap.
Lodge pointed to the penalty spot
to outraged Sky Blue protests. Worse was to follow with Kirkland
being given the red card.
At the time of writing, I haven't
seen the replay, but it looked a dive to me, and with
Hasselbaink having already missed two good chances you could
speculate that he didn't fancy chasing down the loose ball and
trying to hit home from a tight angle.
I hope Lodge looks at the replay
and revokes the red card if it is shown that Kirkland got the
Strachan took off Aloisi bringing
on new loan goalkeeper Miller. Rarely can a player have made his
Sky Blue debut in such a desperate situation.
Hasselbaink banged home the
penalty but the boos and cries of "cheat" from the
City fans were drowned out by Chelsea cheers.
A second was added about 10
minutes later. Hasselbaink cut in from the left, but was being
tracked by Breen and there looked little danger.
Breen failed to get in a
challenge though and just watched as Hasselbaink - now full of
confidence - curled a shot into the far corner.
City had one attack of note - a
wicked cross from Hadji on the left eluded the advancing
midfield and flew past the far post.
By half time the game was
virtually over at 2-0. Hasselbaink was getting booed at every
touch, and Lodge walked off to a very hostile reception.
Richard Shaw came on for Eustace
in the second half. Breen moving to right back, Edworthy to left
back and Telfer to right midfield. It sounds a mess and it was.
But before the goal avalanche
began we had a great chance to pull one back. Chippo put Hadji
through, but he delayed his shot too long allowing Desailly to
get back and put in a challenge. Hadji looked really out of
The leakage of goals in the first
20 minutes of the second half was painful and embarrassing.
Zola hit the third in off a post.
Hasselbaink completed an
ill-deserved hat-trick after Miller had parried a Zola shot. Flo
- who had come on as sub - easily beat Breen to a header on the
far post for the fifth. Hasselbaink hit a sixth.
In between Miller, who must have
been shell-shocked, made a couple of fine saves.
The defence was utterly shot to
pieces. There was so much space down our flanks it was untrue
and there were two Chelsea players to every pass before a City
But mercifully after the sixth
Chelsea eased up. Roussel came on for Bellamy and Telfer, one of
the few City players who hadn't given up, began to throw caution
to the wind, virtually playing as a striker for the last 15
We got a consolation on 90
minutes. Lebouef hit a back pass which De Goey messed around
with, playing keep-up. Roussel charged down the eventual
clearance and tucked home the rebound.
This lifted the funereal mood
which had descended on the City fans and we wrung some grim
humour out of the closing moments with shouts of "we want
two" and "we can see you sneaking out" to the
Chelsea fans who left early.
We can legitimately wonder what
would have happened if Lodge hadn't sent off Kirkland. But the
danger signs were there while we still had 11 on the pitch and
our rearguard defence after the sending off was lame.
When the chips were down our
senior players failed us. The likes of Hadji, Palmer, Chippo and
Breen did not earn their wages today.
This was as poor as City
performance as I've seen in 20 odd years as a fan. It could have
been double figures.
FACTS by Jim Brown
Subs not used:
Subs not used:
CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]
LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS
Chelsea - 10th
Coventry - 15th