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[21 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.

KEY EVENTS

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Chris SampsonFAN'S 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 Bellamy.

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 struck.

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 ball.

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 sorts today.

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 player arrived.

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 minutes.

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.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

CHELSEA:
Subs not used:

COVENTRY:
Subs not used:

GOALS:

REFEREE:

BOOKINGS:  [CHECK CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]

ATTENDANCE: 34,646

LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS MATCH:
Chelsea - 10th
Coventry - 15th

INTERESTING FACT:
    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 21 Oct 00
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