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[25 NOV 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (0) 1
Aston Villa (1) 1

City at last broke their pointless five match run with a scraped draw after hero turned villain Dion Dublin put Villa ahead in the 8th minute.

KEY EVENTS

2 min Hadji shoots narrowly wide.
8 min Dublin scores from close range after Williams' mistake lets Taylor get his cross in.
32 min Konjic's powerful header from Thompson's teasing cross scrapes the post.
54 min Thompson shoots narrowly wide.
83 min Hadji blasts home a left foot shot after Aloisi's flick on.
90 min City clear Villa's 8 yard free-kick after Kirkland picks up a backpass.

FAN'S REPORT by David Beidas

A tremendous downpour around 1.30pm meant a pitch inspection, but the game went ahead.

Highfield Road was nearly full again and as usual for a game against Villa, had a charged atmosphere.

Gordon Strachan sent out the same side that lost to Ipswich, with the exception of Bellamy who was relegated to the bench and replaced by Zuniga.

The line-up was Kirkland in goal, back four of Breen, Konjic, Williams and Edworthy, midfield of Hadji, Telfer, Chippo and Thompson, and Roussel and Zuniga up front. Jeff Winter was the ref.

No more 'It's for Life, Son'; instead we got a rousing classical piece of music (which I didn't recognise) followed by 'While the Sky is Blue'.

The game started frantically and City had the first effort on goal with Hadji shooting from the edge of the area, just wide. It was Villa who went ahead after only eight minutes or so, when a ball was played from the back over the top, Taylor sold Williams a dummy and was left clear to run down towards the byline and then cross for (inevitably) Dion Dublin to score his first goal in ages by sidefooting the ball past Kirkland.

City went to pieces for a spell, Merson particularly causing all sorts of problems as Villa pressed for a second.

City were poor, unable to keep the ball, giving it away frequently and no-one able to hold it up. Distribution was terrible, especially from Williams, who has lost all confidence on the ball.

Mo Konjic was having a good game and soon began to master Dublin, not giving him much space and challenging for everything in the air.

Despite their possession, Villa were unable to make it count and there were few efforts on goal.

Gradually City began to settle and find their way back into the game.

Thompson was booked for diving, after a challenge from Wright. Hadji had another shot, but far too soft this time and David James had no problem picking the ball up. Roussel was winning a few balls in the air, but we were unable to capitalise on them. Telfer was taking long throw-ins when level with the 18 yard box, which we haven't seen for a bit.

We had another real chance on the half hour mark when Thompson won a free kick just inside their half. Lee Hendrie was less than ten yards when the ball was kicked, so another was awarded nearer the area (I thought this was an automatic booking these days, but the ref kept his cards in his pocket). Thompson took it again and sent a lovely ball across the six yard box which Mo got his head to, but the ball went inches wide with James beaten.

Gradually we were putting some good moves together. James, under no pressure, sliced a backpass from his defence out for a throw-in. Zuniga twisted and turned and had a shot at goal.

Villa had a couple of opportunities, mainly driven by Merson, who had one shot straight at Kirkland, but they were no longer dominating the game.

Barry was booked after flooring Thompson when he had beaten the Villa
player and was heading for the area.

We continued to press and won a couple of corners late in the half, but were unable to take advantage of them.

Half time.

Strachan replaced Chippo and Roussel with Eustace and Aloisi at the start of the second half. The former had looked tired and made a number of mistakes, while the latter is still a bit off the pace.

City started to put some good moves together as the game became a bit more open. Gary Breen was playing well as right back, although sometimes as Thompson went wandering he had no-one in front of him. Williams still looked shaky - and delivered a couple of free kicks into empty space for no apparent reason - while Mo was looking steadier and steadier.

Down the left, City lacked a player who could take men on; Edworthy always looks for the pass and there wasn't always any support for him.

Williams was caught ball-watching after we won a corner which James collected and threw out to Merson, who was already yards away from his supposed marker. He ran to the byline and pulled it back, fortunately a bit behind Hendry, who blazed over the bar.

Then it was our turn when Thompson ran down the right and shot into the side netting.

City were getting into their stride and Villa looked shaky at times, though they still had their moments. Dion shot right over the roof of the East Stand to huge cheers. Edworthy made a last ditch tackle when Merson was through on the keeper.

Taylor went off injured. Strachan sent on Palmer for Zuniga, Hadji moving up front.

Within minutes, Palmer was involved in a fracas in their box, though the ref didn't show any cards.

City were now pushing forward with the crowd behind them - the Villa fans who had been vocal and taunting through the first half were now silent.

Boateng was booked after going down in the area and then arguing the toss with Gary Breen.

After we won a corner, the ball came out to Williams who fired high into the Family Stand.

Mo went down injured in the box; play continued and he staggered to his feet and limped to the edge of the area to avoid playing anyone onside - what a bloke. He seemed to recover though.

Finally with eight minutes to go we got the equaliser when the ball was flicked on in the box through to Hadji on the left and he fired a shot past James for a much deserved equaliser.

City didn't give up and continued to press, although there were no more real chances.

In injury time, Boateng burst through into the area and Thompson went diving in to push the ball towards Kirkland, who picked the ball up. Indirect free kick for a back pass, although the ref couldn't decide where the kick should be taken and eventually settled on eight yards out.

City's wall did the job and Wright's shot bounced off someone and out for a throw. That was virtually the last kick of the game.

The performance was about the same as Monday night against Ipswich, but City didn't give up and in the end finally deserved at least a point.

Fortunately other results went our way, so we've got to keep going from here and start climbing out of trouble. Perhaps the team will have a bit more belief in themselves now. They worked hard all game and did well to salvage a point. Our problem continues to be scoring.

Apparently there were sightings of Bryan Richardson and Venables at Ryton this week. What that betokens, heaven only knows, although I gather he was also seen at Middlesbrough today.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

COVENTRY:
Chris Kirkland: Gary Breen, Marc Edworthy, Paul Telfer, Paul Williams, Mo Konjic, David Thompson, Youssef Chippo (John Eustace 46), Cedric Roussel (John Aloisi 46), Ysrael Zuniga (Carlton Palmer 72), Moustapha Hadji
Subs not used:
Alan Miller, Craig Bellamy

ASTON VILLA:
David James: Steve Stone, Alan Wright, Alpay, Gareth Southgate, Gareth Barry, Ian Taylor (Mark Delaney 60), George Boateng, Dion Dublin, Paul Merson, Lee Hendrie
Subs not used:
Peter Enckelman, David Ginola, Gilles De Bilde, Hitzlsperger

GOALS:
Coventry - Hadji (83)
Aston Villla -
Dublin (8)

REFEREE: J Winter (Teeside)

BOOKINGS:  [CHECK CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]
Coventry - Thompson (22, diving)
Aston Villla - Barry (43, foul on Thompson), Boateng (89, diving)

ATTENDANCE: 21,464

LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS MATCH:
Coventry - 17th
Aston Villa - 6th

INTERESTING FACT:
City's first point for six games. First time this season that City have come from behind to get a point.
    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 25 Nov 00
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