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[03 MAR 01] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (0) 0
Chelsea (0) 0

In a game of many near misses, and some excellent saves by Kirkland, City grab a point - but they desparately needed three.

KEY EVENTS

3 min Cudicini saves at point blank range from Hadji.
5 min Kirkland saves well from Gudjohnsen after good wing play from Gronkjaer.
23 min Kirkland saves Gronkjaer's shot.
31 min Kirkland pulls off super save from stinging Hasselbaink shot.
42 min Kirkland tips another Hasselbaink effort around the post.
43 min Kirkland tips Poyet's header over the bar.
44 min Thompson fails to hit the target from 8 yards in a good position.
53 min Cudicini tips Thompson's swerving free kick around the post.
57 min Kirkland saves brilliantly from Gronkkjaer.
61 min Hadji's bending free kick is just wide.
66 min Terry clears Thompson's shot off the line.
67 min Kirkland again, this time tipping Hasselbaink's screamer round the post.
83 min Zola's free kick hits the bar.
90 min Stanic's chip beats Kirkland but goes on to the top of the net.

FAN'S REPORT 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 immaculate self.

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 the throw.

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 corner.

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 line.

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 break.

Zola took a free kick from 25 yards out which hit the crossbar and bounced into the East Stand.

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 of it.

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 than one.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

COVENTRY:
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 Aloisi 76)
Subs not used:
Magnus Hedman, Paul Telfer, Paul Williams

CHELSEA:
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

GOALS: none

REFEREE: S Bennett (Orpington)

BOOKINGS:  [CHECK 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)

ATTENDANCE: 21,609

LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS MATCH:
Coventry - 19th
Chelsea - 10th

INTERESTING FACTS:
- 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.

    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 3 Mar 01
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