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[31 MAR 01] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (1) 2
Derby County (0) 0

City take three very big points from their first league victory since Boxing Day - a result only marred by the dismissal of captain Hadji.

KEY EVENTS

6 min Hartson heads straight at Oakes from a superb Hall cross.
8 min Oakes carried off after a collision with Hadji.
25 min Hall forces Poom into a good save.
44 min Hadji heads home after Poom blocks Eustace's shot.
45 min Hadji shoots narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
49 min Hartson heads home Telfer's right wing corner.
72 min Hadji sent off for spitting at Higginbotham.
78 min Kirkland's first real save from Carbonari's thirty yard shot falls to Delap who skies his shot.
83 min Burton shoots over from a good position.

FAN'S REPORT by David Beidas

I'd almost forgotten what it was like to see City win. A massive victory, with other results going our way as well. Even the sun came out towards the end of the game.

Just under 20,000 at Highfield Road. Usual 4-4-2: Kirkland in goal; back four of Quinn, Breen, Shaw and Hall; midfield of Eustace, Telfer, Carsley and Bellamy; and Hadji and Hartson up front. No Thompson: perhaps not a bad thing.

According to Sky last night, Derby have done much better when Taribo West has played and it was a relief to not to see him in their side today.

The early pressure was Derby's as it took us a couple of minutes to get out of our half, but we settled and the game developed into a fairly nervy affair, City not quite looking like they believed in themselves. Chances were few and far between for both sides.

City looked threatening when coming down the flanks, Bellamy had a few chances to run at the defence and occasionally we got some good balls into the box but our main problem was the lack of anyone to get on the end of them.

Derby looked slightly more assured on the ball than we did, but for all their passing and running, had fewer opportunities than City.

Derby had to change their goalkeeper when a sloppy back pass left Hadji and Oakes both chasing a ball about 25 yards out. They arrived simultaneously and the Derby keeper came off worse.

At the back we were very solid, Gary Breen in particular having a superb game. Higginbotham was booked for Derby after a crude challenge on Eustace.

Hadji wasn't having much luck and the crowd were getting on his back. That all disappeared shortly before half time when Eustace suddenly found himself clear about 12 yards out, he thundered a shot which Poom blocked, the ball rebounded high and from ten yards out Hadji headed the ball over the heads of Derby defenders rushing back to cover.

One nil and for the first time the City crowd were singing louder than the Derby fans.

A minute or two later a lovely backheel from Hadji put Bellamy away down the left to fizz a ball across the area.

We started the second half strongly and won a couple of corners. From the second, about five minutes in, Telfer floated a ball over and Hartson squeezed a header between Poom's hand and the post to put us two up.

A certain sense of relief, though our experiences this season made us wary of thinking the points were in the bag.

Derby came back at us and Smith sent on Kinkladze for Gudjohnson. We were looking stronger now though and although we were under pressure, the defence still looked in control and Derby still found chances hard to come by.

Telfer and Carsley in midfield were working hard to break down attacks and feed the front men again. Hartson had another chance when he got off a shot from an angle which Poom managed to deflect out for a corner.

David Elleray decided to make it hard for us with about twenty minutes to go when there was an incident off the ball. He went over to consult his linesman and then pulled out his red card for Hadji. I didn't see anything of the incident; Hadji got a huge round of applause. He took his time leaving the pitch and seemed distraught. I can hardly remember Hadji ever getting a yellow card and the red was quite out of character.

You knew it was going to be our day when a few minutes later a Derby player got a shot off from long range which swerved a bit and Kirkland was unable to hold it. Delap was following in and from seven yards out, with the keeper on the ground, he put the ball well over the bar.

Kirkland had to save another long range shot when Johnson wasn't closed down, but apart from that he wasn't tested.

We had to absorb a lot of pressure in the last twenty minutes, but we also looked dangerous when breaking.

Chippo replaced Bellamy with about ten minutes to go. Hartson did a good job of holding the ball up front on his own, although he looked finished after eighty minutes.

Injury time seemed endless, but by then Derby had accepted their defeat and the pressure eased. Elleray finally decided it was time to blow his whistle and call a halt.

As Jim Brown remarked after the game, that was our biggest win all season! The three points are what matters though and it was a relief to celebrate a win at last.

There were a number of plus points: the back four looked pretty solid, Carsley and Telfer gave us some bite in midfield and without Thompson we looked more organised and less wayward.

Onward and upward.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

COVENTRY:
Chris Kirkland: Barry Quinn, Marcus Hall, Lee Carsley, Gary Breen, Richard Shaw, John Eustace, Paul Telfer, John Hartson, Moustapha Hadji, Craig Bellamy (Youssef Chippo 84)
Subs not used:
Magnus Hedman, John Aloisi, Paul Williams, David Thompson

DERBY:
Andy Oakes (Mart Poom 8): Rory Delap, Seth Johnson, Youl Mawane, Horatio Carbonari, Danny Higginbotham, Craig Burley (Adam Murray 74), Darryl Powell, Deon Burton, Malcolm Christie, Thordur Gudjonsson (Giorgi Kinkladze 58)
Subs not used:
Paul Boertien, Bjorn Otto Bragstad

GOALS: Hadji (44), Hartson (49)

REFEREE: D Elleray

BOOKINGS:  [CHECK CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]
Coventry - none
Derby - Higginbotham (21, foul on Hartson)

SENDING OFFS:
Coventry - Hadji (72, spitting at Higginbotham)
Derby - none

ATTENDANCE: 19,654

LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS MATCH:
Coventry - 19th
Derby - 16th

INTERESTING FACTS:
City's first win since Boxing Day and their biggest win of the season.

    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 31 Mar 01
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