MAR 01] COVENTRY CITY MATCH
REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (0) 0
Chelsea (0) 0
game of many near misses, and some excellent saves by Kirkland,
City grab a point - but they desparately needed three.
saves at point blank range from Hadji.
||Kirkland saves well from Gudjohnsen after good
wing play from Gronkjaer.
||Kirkland saves Gronkjaer's shot.
||Kirkland pulls off super
save from stinging Hasselbaink shot.
tips another Hasselbaink effort around the post.
||Kirkland tips Poyet's header over the bar.
||Thompson fails to hit the
target from 8 yards in a good position.
||Cudicini tips Thompson's swerving free kick
around the post.
saves brilliantly from Gronkkjaer.
||Hadji's bending free kick is just wide.
||Terry clears Thompson's shot off the line.
again, this time tipping Hasselbaink's screamer round
free kick hits the bar.
||Stanic's chip beats Kirkland but goes on to the
top of the net.
by David Beidas
A game which could equally have
been 3-3, but for some good goalkeeping. City fought hard, but
could not get the goal to give us some points which, with no-one
else around us winning, would have seen us make up some ground.
Highfield Road was pretty nearly
full. Strachan made changes: Hedman dropped, with Kirkland
coming back into goal; Breen and Shaw retained in central
defence, with Williams on the bench; Quinn and Hall as
fullbacks; midfield of Thompson, Carsley, Eustace and Hadji;
Hartson and Bellamy up front.
Both sides could have scored in
the opening minutes. On our first attack, Hartson put Bellamy
away down the right, he beat the defender and cut into the area,
sending over a low cross to the near post, where Hadji was
running in and connected with the ball about four yards out,
only to see the keeper block it.
Minutes later Chelsea had a
carbon copy, with Gronkjaer beating Quinn and crossing to
Gudjohnsen, but Kirkland also got down well to save.
The game settled into a slightly
scrappy period, with City in particular unable to get any
flowing football going, all too frequently losing the ball or
giving it away - Thompson was particularly guilty, his passing,
shooting and crossing was poor; Breen too was not his normal
We weren't helped by a ref who
appeared to favour the team in yellow. Their keeper jumped above
Thompson to catch (and then drop) a cross, landing on top of
Thompson as he came down: free kick to Chelsea.
Eustace and Gudjohnsen went for a
ball and clashed heads: free kick to Chelsea. Desailly and
Bellamy shoulder to shoulder chasing a ball running out: free
kick to Chelsea.
There were chances for both
sides. Hadji tried a long range effort which was saved.
Hasselbaink sent a free kick just wide of Kirkland's post.
Chelsea won a free kick which
they took quickly, the ball going just over the bar before City
were ready (Kirkland had a real go at Gary Breen after that).
Eustace was booked for a late challenge.
There were a couple of shouts for
penalties from handball by Chelsea defenders, but they were
ignored by the ref.
There was a lovely moment when
the ball went out for a City throw and Desailly, who had been
chasing it was trying to pick it up by the hoardings to delay
Hartson charged in and planted
both his feet around the ball, and in so doing gave Desailly an
almighty shove into the hoardings. He took the throw quickly and
the game carried on, the ref presumably having seen nothing.
There were chants of Super Johnny
Hartson for this. Desailly needed treatment, came back on but
was clearly struggling. He had a go at Hartson but a fight was
avoided, and Desailly did not reappear for the second half.
Chelsea were beginning to look
the stronger side as the half wore on. Hasselbaink had a fierce
low drive, which Kirkland just managed to push around the post
for a corner. He then had to tip the ball over from a Poyet
header for a second corner.
Towards the end of the half,
Thompson had a couple of chances (one from a free kick) both of
which he sent well wide of the target.
The second half continued in the
same vein, Chelsea playing the more fluid football, although
there was more fight in City's game. Hadji and Bellamy swopped
places, with Bellamy making some good runs down the left flank.
There were a couple of nervy
moments when Chelsea players got into good shooting positions,
but we blocked their efforts.
Thompson finally took a good free
kick which went over the wall and dipped, but the keeper made a
good save at the foot of the post. Hadji too took a free kick
from a similar position and it whistled just past the top
Strachan sent on Chippo for
Carsley and the Moroccan was soon lunging into challenges as he
did last season.
Kirkland made a flying save from
a Chelsea shot and then was embroiled in another shouting match
with Gary Breen as Breen was covering the ball running back to
our goal, with a Chelsea player about three yards behind him.
Kirkland came off his line but
didn't seem to call or make a definitive move for the ball and
Breen kicked it out for an unnecessary corner, unsure of whether
there was a player behind him or not.
As the game wore on, City pressed
forward looking for the winner. Hadji was replaced by Aloisi.
Thompson had an excellent chance when he turned in the area and
shot, the ball flew past the keeper but was cleared off the
Kirkland had to go full stretch
again to send a shot from Hasselbaink out for a corner.
The Sky Blue Army were urging
City on and the team responded, making less mistakes than in the
first half and beginning to put some passing together and using
the width of the pitch more (although Thompson seemed to keep
drifting in to the centre).
There was another shout for
handball in their area, but the ref waved play on. We were
exerting more pressure and creating chances, but their defence
was in the way of everything.
Chelsea sent on Zola and Stanic
for Gudjohnsen and Poyet and they looked to hit City on the
Zola took a free kick from 25
yards out which hit the crossbar and bounced into the East
The Chelsea fans were singing for
Vialli as it looked as if they were not going to break their
away duck. At the death they probably had the best chance of the
game when Wise played Stanic in on goal. Kirkland rushed out,
but Stanic chipped him and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief
when the ball landed in the roof of the net rather than the back
Three minutes of injury time and
both sides were still going for it, but it ended goalless.
On the whole a good performance
from City: we still give the ball away too often, but there was
fight and effort and we created enough chances. In the end
though we all knew we needed three points from this game rather
FACTS by Jim Brown
Chris Kirkland: Barry Quinn, Marcus Hall, Lee Carsley (Youssef
Chippo 60), Gary Breen, Richard Shaw, David Thompson, John
Eustace, John Hartson, Craig Bellamy, Moustapha Hadji (John
Subs not used: Magnus Hedman,
Paul Telfer, Paul Williams
Carlo Cudicini: Albert Ferrer, Graeme Le Saux, Dennis Wise,
Marcel Desailly (John Terry 46), Frank Leboeuf, Gustavo Poyet
(Mario Stanic 81), Slavisa Jovanovic, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink,
Eidur Gudjohnsen (Gianfranco Zola 81), Jesper Gronkjaer
Subs not used: Ed De Goey,
Samuele Dalla Bona
CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]
Coventry - Eustace
(27, dissent), Breen (90, foul on Zola)
Chelsea - Jovanovic
(79, handball), Stanic (89, foul on Aloisi)
LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS
Coventry - 19th
Chelsea - 10th
- City's first clean sheet since December and only their second
of the season.
- City unbeaten in three games.
- Chelsea without a win at Highfield Road since 1992.