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[16 APR 01] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (1) 1
Sunderland (0) 0

Three wins in four games and Hartson's sixth goal in eight: if City are going down, at least they are finally making a fight of it.

KEY EVENTS

21 min Hartson scores with a header after good work from Bothroyd and Carsley.
31 min Hall clears the danger after Kirkland pushes out Kilbane's centre.
50 min Hartson header clips the bar from left wing free-kick.
51 min Sorensen tips Bothroyd's stinging shot over.
53 min Sorensen saves from Bothroyd again.
58 min Sorensen blocks Bellamy's shot.
67 min Eustace clears the bar from a good position.
70 min Sorensen saves well from Eustace.
92 min Quinn chips into Kirkland's hands from a good position.

FAN'S REPORT by David Beidas

Three wins in four games and Hartson's sixth goal in eight: if we're going down, at least we are finally making a fight of it.

City dominated this match for the most part, but couldn't get the second goal which would have made them comfortable and instead had a nerve-wracking last 15 minutes. Still, the win was what counts.

Highfield Road was pretty nearly full on a sunny Easter Monday afternoon.
One change from the side that played Man Utd on Saturday, with Bothroyd coming in for Thompson. A bit surprising perhaps, but when you looked at the Sunderland defence, with the towering Varga and Thome, Strachan was probably right to go for height.

Kirkland was in goal, back four of Quinn, Breen, Shaw and Hall; midfield of Eustace, Carsley, Telfer and Bellamy; and Hartson and Bothroyd up front.

City started well and were pressing dangerously from the start. Sunderland took much longer to settle and offered little threat in the opening minutes.

City's play followed the pattern of the last few games: Telfer and Carsley working their socks off in central midfield, Eustace and Bellamy looking to break down the flanks, the defence sweeping up everything and Hartson a dominant force up front, winning much in the air, although there wasn't always someone running on to his flick ons.

The goal came about 20 minutes in; we broke down the left, but then had to feed the ball back and across field. It came to Bothroyd twelve yards out with his back to goal, he saw Carsley on the right and fed him, Carsley could have shot himself but opted for a little chip over to Hartson to head in. It was a lovely move and no more than we deserved at that point, we'd been the only side in the game - Sunderland continuing to offer very little.

Varga was booked for a challenge on Bothroyd and one other of their players was also shown a yellow card.

The rest of the half continued in this pattern, City threatening but not quite able to find the opening for the second.

Hutchison did his usual trick of playing for every foul he could get, sometimes getting them and sometimes not.

Shaw was keeping Kevin Phillips under control and while Sunderland gradually started to get better, Kirkland was rarely troubled. He had one save to make, when they broke down the right and he pushed a shot round for a corner.

Half time.

Three minutes in to the second half Varga went right through Bothroyd from the back and Dermot Gallagher got out his red card.

City pushed forward to try to take advantage and created several chances, but were denied by some good goalkeeping. The best fell to Eustace, one volley when free in the area went into the ground and bounced over the bar, another was tipped wide by Sorensen. The keeper had one dodgy moment when he came just outside his area to clear and Bellamy managed to make him miss it, but Sunderland were able to clear.

Reid replaced Arca with Williams and more Sunderland players were booked for some very physical challenges.

Bellamy was having a superb game down the right and broke into the area several times, pulling back for Eustace to again fire one at the keeper on one occasion.

Bothroyd wasn't having a bad game, holding the ball up well and feeding the players on the flanks, although he has a very languid playing style and hasn't much pace.

Super John Hartson was in the thick of it all, still winning the headers and getting stuck in. He had one header from a corner bounce off the top of the bar and into the West Terrace.

Reid now took off Hutchison and put on Niall Quinn. City gradually began to drop back and played themselves into trouble on more than one occasion - Telfer often being the culprit, although on the whole he had an excellent game.

There were several nervy goalmouth scrambles and Sunderland began to sense they could get a point. In doing so they left themselves open at the back and when City did break they were able to threaten.

Eustace was booked for kicking the ball away after the ref had blown for a foul and when, a few minutes later, he committed a needless foul well into their half which meant we gave the ball away, Strachan took him off and sent Thompson on.

Hartson and Bothroyd were both looking tired by this point, but the defence and the midfield were still on top form, Breen and Shaw clearing everything.

At one point Shaw was lying injured on the edge of the area as Sunderland broke forward, Kevin Phillips was screaming for the ball with no-one near him and Shaw playing him onside but fortunately he was ignored by his teammate. There was a close call as a shot went into the side netting.

Three minutes of injury time. Breen went down in the area and Kirkland threw the ball out so that he could receive treatment. When Sunderland threw the ball back in it wasn't with much power and as Hall left it to run towards Kirkland a Sunderland player nipped in and somehow Kirkland managed to block it. City players were rightly furious.

We managed to play keepball for a bit in their half and finally the whistle went. It had been a nerve-wracking last quarter of an hour, but City had held on for a deserved win.

Now we just need to win three out of the next four.

MATCH FACTS by Jim Brown

COVENTRY:
Chris Kirkland: Barry Quinn, Marcus Hall, Lee Carsley, Gary Breen, Richard Shaw, John Eustace (David Thompson 89), Paul Telfer, John Hartson, Jay Bothroyd, Craig Bellamy
Subs not used:
Magnus Hedman, Ysrael Zuniga, Youssef Chippo, Paul Williams

SUNDERLAND:
Thomas Sorensen: Darren Williams, George McCartney, Stefan Schwarz (Paul Thirlwell 68), Stanislav Varga, Emerson Thome, Julio Arca (Jody Craddock 51), Gavin McCann, Don Hutchison (Niall Quinn 68), Kevin Phillips, Kevin Kilbane
Subs not used:
Jurgen Macho, Thomas Butler

GOALS: Hartson (21)

REFEREE: D Gallagher (Banbury)

BOOKINGS:  [CHECK CITY BOOKINGS FOR THE SEASON TO DATE]
Coventry - Breen (34, foul on Hutchison), Eustace (83, foul on Kilbane)
Sunderland - Varga (23, foul on Bothroyd), Arca (32, foul on Hall), Schwarz (63, foul on Eustace), Thome (64, foul on Bellamy), Williams (73, foul on Carsley)

SENDING OFFS:
Coventry - none
Sunderland - Varga (two yellow cards)

ATTENDANCE: 20,946

LEAGUE POSITIONS AFTER THIS MATCH:
Coventry - 19th
Sunderland - 7th

INTERESTING FACTS:
Three wins out of four. Third successive clean sheet at home. Hartson six goals in eight and joint leading league scorer.

    

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 16 Apr 01
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