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[22 DEC 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (1) 1
Southampton (0) 1

A lacklustre display and a slightly lucky goal gave City a point from a game they desparately needed to win.

KEY EVENTS

10 min Hadji fires into the side netting.
11 min Jones tips Hadji's deflected shot around the post.
22 min From a good position Tessem's weak header dribbles wide.
33 min Thompson's 30 yard free-kick sails past Jones after Hadji unsights the keeper.
38 min Jones tips Konjic's header over the bar.
44 min Kirkland saves well from Beattie.
51 min Tessem heads powerfully past Kirkland after Kachloul's cross finds him at the far post.
58 min Carsley shoots over from the edge of the box.
85 min Zuniga hits the post with Jones beaten.

FAN'S REPORT by David Beidas

A dire game between two teams both as bad as each other - a draw was a fair result. The sad thing is that neither side looked premiership quality, but we are the ones in the bottom three.

Despite the change of day and time, there were a fair few Southampton fans - maybe 1,000. I've certainly seen less. A chink of the M & B stand had been set aside for the Two Tone Collective, who were likened to the dance band playing as the Titanic went down. We didn't see them, but others said it was a good gig. But it wasn't a big crowd, about 18,000.

A couple of changes from the side which started the last two games. Kirkland was in goal, following Hedman's injury; back four of Breen, Williams, Konjic and Quinn; midfield of Thompson, Telfer, Carsley and Bellamy; and Hadji and Roussel up front. The ref was Mr Wiley.

City started brightly and in the first ten minutes won a couple of corners and had two chances. The corners weren't brilliantly delivered by Thompson and both were picked off by the first defender.

The chances both fell to Hadji. For the first, a lovely four pass first touch move saw Thompson put a ball into the near post which Hadji put into the side netting. The second saw Thompson pass to Hadji just outside the area, he let fly, the ball hit a defender for a deflection, but Jones was going the right way and put the ball out.

Thereafter the match settled into a game of pinball, neither side able to hold on to the ball, plenty of unforced errors and giving the ball away from both sides. Lots of head tennis, very little football.

Apart from Dean Richards and Katchloul, the opposition didn't have very much to offer. One of their Moroccans, El Khalej, was staggeringly inept.

Southampton had a couple of chances, from a corner one player had a free header which he put over the bar and then later they worked the ball down the right, centred and a header saw the ball go just wide. They also had a volley which Kirkland did well to block.

It was something of a surprise when City, who were being forced on to the back foot a bit, took the lead after half an hour. We won a free kick just outside the area on the left, Thompson floated the ball over, a City head and a Saints head rose to meet it, but it continued to drift on and round Jones into the net at the far post.

Seemed a soft goal at the time, but it gave City confidence and for the rest of the half we picked our game up and continued to push, without creating any more real chances. Roussel had clearly picked up an injury, couldn't run too well and was clutching his hamstring.

Halftime. Strachan made one change for the second half, Chippo coming on for Roussel (who clearly couldn't have continued) and Bellamy moving up front to partner Hadji.

Southampton clawed their way back into the game after five minutes, when a ball was played out and found a player wide on the left in acres of space but being played on by someone in the centre. He ran down the wing with the City defence caught, put over a cross to the far post where the unmarked Tessem planted a firm header past Kirkland.

As usual, City were rocked by this and began to fall apart again. It was Southampton who started to push forward, but they never created another real chance.

City were struggling to put a game together, every time Williams got the ball at the back you could hear the cries of 'hoof' and that is duly what he did.

All too often in the match, City were just punting long balls forward, but neither Roussel in the first half nor anyone in the second was able to consistently win headers, so we were always losing the ball.

The crowd began to get on Strachan's back and there were calls for Eustace and Zuniga to come on. Eventually Strachan took off Bellamy and replaced him with Zuniga. The Peruvian had a shot off target with his first touch of the ball, but thereafter was reduced to chasing it as Southampton passed it between defence and midfield.

The game got a bit more competitive and Thompson was booked for going in late on Marsden. A minute later, he was subbed for Eustace, with the whole crowd shouting at Strachan 'you don't know what you're doing'.

I imagine he was trying to prevent Thompson getting another red card; not that Thompson had been outstanding, having developed a habit of always trying to take on one player too many and ending up losing the ball. Thompson got a huge ovation as he walked off the pitch.

City pushed up and Southampton were dangerous on the break, almost getting another chance when again a player was left unmarked on the left and the ball was played through. There was a goalmouth scramble, but we managed to keep the ball out. Apart from that incident, Southampton never looked like scoring again.

We had one further opportunity late on, when Zuniga found himself in a bit of space in the box with the ball, turned and shot, but the ball hit the post and came out again. It was not to be our night.

And so it ended. Strachan was booed off the pitch, although the players themselves got a clap. Quite why, I don't know. There is no way on this form that we will retain our premiership status; a better team than Southampton would have beaten us soundly.

It was a lacklustre performance, when little that we tried went right and we looked pretty clueless. We certainly couldn't really afford to get less than three points, but on this showing we don't deserve to stay up.

There are much better teams and our football is too poor. It's not that they weren't trying, simply that they weren't good enough. No creativity in midfield at the moment, nothing to set us apart from the rest of the teams at the bottom. I despair.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

COVENTRY:
Chris Kirkland: Gary Breen, Barry Quinn, Lee Carsley, Paul Williams, Mo Konjic, David Thompson (John Eustace 76), Paul Telfer, Cedric Roussel (Youssef Chippo 46), Moustapha Hadji, Craig Bellamy (Ysrael Zuniga 69)
Subs not used:
Morten Hyldgaard, Marc Edworthy

SOUTHAMPTON:
Paul Jones: Tahar El Khalej, Wayne Bridge, Chris Marsden, Dean Richards, Claus Lundekvam, Jo Tessem, Kevin Gibbens (Kevin Davies 69), James Beattie, Mark Draper, Hassan Kachloul
Subs not used:
Neil Moss, Jason Dodd, Uwe Rosler, Trond Soltvedt

GOALS:
Coventry -
Thompson (33)
Southampton - Tessem (51)

REFEREE: A Wiley (Staffordshire)

BOOKINGS:  [CHECK CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]
Coventry - Thompson (75, scuffle with Marsden)
Southampton - Draper (37, foul on Telfer)

ATTENDANCE: 18,090

LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS MATCH:
Coventry - 18th
Southampton - 15th

INTERESTING FACT:
This was the 100th league game between the clubs - City have played the Saints more than any other team.

    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 22 Dec 00
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