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[04 NOV 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (0) 1
Manchester United (2) 2

In front of a surprisingly under-capacity crowd Coventry duly handed over the three points to United but did make a fight of it in the second half.

KEY EVENTS

26 min Cole scores from close range after a flowing move from United.
37 min Kirkland canít stop Beckhamís free-kick from creeping in.
58 min Coleís goalbound shot deflected wide by Breen.
64 min Beckhamís free kick inches wide.
65 min Zuniga steers in Breen's header from a Telfer corner to pull one back for City.
74 min Kirkland tips Keaneís shot round the post.
80 min Yorke hits the inside of the post with a fierce drive.

FAN'S REPORT by David Beidas

Predictably the Reds left Highfield Road with the three points.

From the first half it seemed that City were quite happy to present them on a plate, but then made them fight for it after a much more competitive second half.

Highfield Road not full for a Man Utd game for once: just over 21,000, with empty seats in the corners.

Once again WGS ventured with 3-5-2: Kirkland was in goal, Breen, Shaw and Williams as the defence, Edworthy and Guerrero as wing backs, Quinn, Chippo and Thomson in central midfield and Hadji and (surprise) Bothroyd up front.

Bothroyd was perhaps only there to raise the average height of the team to above five foot six.

Both sides won corners in the opening few minutes: City were nearly caught napping by a short corner and then their own was badly delivered by Thomson.

Then the game settled, dominated by Man Utd with swift and accurate passing, City rarely seeming to challenge for the ball. We were defending deep and giving them far too much respect and room.

City wasn't helped by a ref (Graham Poll) who seemed to favour United at every turn, giving them free kick after free kick just outside our area while ignoring any challenge where a Sky Blue player went down.

Beckham sent the ball just wide from one of those free kicks.

Coventry v Man Utd - 001104 - ANOTHER UNITED SHOT GOES JUST WIDE
ANOTHER UNITED SHOT GOES JUST WIDE

For all their domination (and we really were outclassed for 20 minutes), Kirkland didn't have a save to make and chances were rare.

And then City began to play a bit and we saw a couple of excellent moves, one working the ball downfield with four or five first touch passes involving Hadji, Thomson and Edworthy.

For all that though we were struggling to get the ball in their area, although Hadji had one shot from the edge of the area which Barthez comfortably saved.

The French keeper thought nothing of wandering down to the halfway line for a chat with a defender when Man Utd were preparing to take a corner.

The United defence didn't look entirely comfortable and there were a couple of occasions when crosses went right through their area, defenders leaving the ball for each other, but we had no-one running in to fire a shot.

Just as we were beginning to pick up some confidence, we went behind, when the ball was quickly cleared from their defence and Beckham went chasing it into acres of space down the right.

The United midfielder managed to get to the ball and cross it just before it went out and although Shaw was covering the near post and was shaping to clear it, Andy Cole nipped in in front of him and fired the ball between Kirkland and the post.

We were two down shortly afterwards when the Reds won yet another free kick twenty yards out. It wasn't brilliantly taken by Beckham, but went through the wall and underneath Kirkland into the net.

United resumed their domination for the remainder of the half. We had hardly had more than two attempts on goal. Bothroyd wasn't overly impressive - he won a couple of headers, laid off a couple of balls, but didn't work hard enough (something which was true of much of the team).

The defence had played well (apart from the goals), denying Cole and Sheringham space and limiting their opportunities, but with new players and an unfamiliar formation, City were not overly convincing.

Half time. Zuniga replaced Bothroyd at the start of the second half, to give us a bit more energy up front.

In the second half City began to show a bit of bite and started to make United work a bit harder, but they were still on top.

Cole had a couple of chances, fired one at Kirkland and Breen just nicked the other past the post.

Fifteen minutes in, Strachan took off Thomson and Quinn and sent on Eustace and Telfer. Now we were back in the game and beginning to push forward.

United weren't given so much time on the ball and were being forced into errors.

We got our reward on the hour, when Telfer took a corner towards the far post and Breen headed back towards the near post, where Zuniga diverted the ball into the net.

City were really fired up and from the kick-off Eustace went charging into Keane who reacted and there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the centre circle.

Coventry v Man Utd - 001104 - EUSTACE AND KEANE HAVE A DISAGREEMENT
EUSTACE AND KEANE HAVE A DISAGREEMENT

Both Eustace and Keane got a yellow card, the only ones of the game - although Eustace was lucky not to get a second and a red later when he went in late on Keane again.

City continued to press. Hadji went down just outside the area, although his fall was rather theatrical and Graham Poll ignored it.

Solskjaer replaced Scholes for United, then Yorke for Sheringham and United came back strongly, Giggs working down the left particularly well.

They were also wasting time at every opportunity, Sheringham walking slowly off the pitch when subbed, Beckham walking over to take any corners.

Sloppy passing by City allowed Cole to nick the ball from Shaw on the edge of the area and feed Yorke, whose shot hit the post and came out.

Telfer got in one superb tackle to deny Yorke when he was through on goal.

Solskjaer wasn't picked up as City were clearing their lines from a corner, he fired a pass across the six yard box and Guerrero somehow managed to scoop it over the bar when an own goal would have been more likely.

And so it ended. We were never really in this game, United looking much sharper for the whole match. I don't suppose many expected us to win and short of some of our first choice players, the result was no surprise.

And now it's Liverpool away.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

COVENTRY:
Chris Kirkland, Marc Edworthy, Ivan Guerrero, Richard Shaw, Paul Williams, Gary Breen, David Thompson (Paul Telfer 57), Barry Quinn (John Eustace 57), Jay Bothroyd (Ysrael Zuniga 46), Moustapha Hadji, Youssef Chippo
Subs not used: Alan Miller, Colin Hendry

MANCHESTER UNITED:
Fabien Barthez, Philip Neville, Dennis Irwin, Roy Keane, Wes Brown, Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 51), Andrew Cole, Teddy Sheringham (Dwight Yorke 72), Ryan Giggs
Subs not used:
Raymond Van der Gouw, Luke Chadwick, Mikael Silvestre

GOALS:
Coventry - Zuniga (65)
Man Utd - Cole (26) Beckham (37)

REFEREE: G Poll (Tring)

BOOKINGS:  [CHECK CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]
Coventry: Eustace (62, foul on Keane)
Man Utd: Keane (62, retaliation)

ATTENDANCE: 21,079

LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS MATCH:
Coventry - 17th
Man Utd - 1st

INTERESTING FACT:
This was United's 7th win in the last eight visits to Highfield Road.

    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 4 Nov 00
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