Season | 2000-01 |
Matchday | #19 |
League Game | #14 |
Premier League Match-week | #14 |
Manager Game | #129 |
Saturday, 25 November 2000
Premier League | Away | Coventry City | Highfield Road | 21,464 |
Manager | John Gregory |
KO | 15.00 |
Referee | Jeff Winter |
HT Score | 1-0 |
FT Score | 1-1 |
FT Result | Drew |
Last 5 Games | LWWLD |
Scorers | Dion Dublin | 8’ |
Assists | Ian Taylor | 8’ |
League Position | 6th | - |
Line Up |
GK David James |
LB Alan Wright |
CB Alpay Özalan |
CB Gareth Southgate |
M Gareth Barry | BOOKED | 44' |
M Paul Merson |
M George Boateng | BOOKED | 90' |
M Lee Hendrie |
M Ian Taylor | ASSIST | 8' | SUB OFF | 60' |
M Steve Stone |
CF Dion Dublin | GOAL | 8' |
FB Mark Delaney for Ian Taylor | 60’ |
Unused Substitutes |
GK Peter Enckelman
W David Ginola
F Gilles De Bilde
M Thomas Hitzlsperger
Yellow | Gareth Barry | 44’ |
Yellow | George Boateng | 90’ |
Team Stats |
Starting XI Average Age | 28.36 |
Oldest Player | M Paul Merson | 32.71 |
Youngest Player | M Gareth Barry | 19.77 |
Sunday, 26 November, 2000
Match Report from Simon Burnton
After five consecutive defeats, it appeared that nothing but the elements could rescue Coventry from another. A heavy downpour before kick-off put the match in jeopardy but the clouds cleared from Highfield Road to leave the pitch in passable condition and in the end Mustapha Hadji’s late strike secured a flattering point.
Even then, Coventry did their best to give it away. In the dying minutes Chris Kirkland produced his only notable save to deny Gareth Southgate. Then, in injury time, Kirkland scooped up David Thompson’s tackle-cum-back pass but Alan Wright blasted the resulting free-kick at the defensive wall.
So while Gordon Strachan may be celebrating the result he struggled to find positives in the performance. ‘The football we’re playing isn’t great, but our workrate has been,’ he said. ‘It’s hard for the players to relax and play when things aren’t going for them. You’ve got to work for your points, and that’s what we’re doing.’
John Gregory also paid tribute to Coventry’s desire. ‘I thought the game was won, and it should have been,’ he said. ‘But I’ve got to give Coventry credit. Our players know that they’ve been in a game today.’
While you can’t deny their commitment, the passing from both sides was poor, with Coventry particularly culpable for needlessly giving the ball away in vital areas of the pitch. On one such occasion Villa took the lead, Paul Williams allowing Ian Taylor to steal the ball from his toes and send in a low centre that Dion Dublin converted, his first goal in two months.
Amid the general mediocrity, Paul Merson shone. Playing up front in the absence of Julian Joachim, who has a broken toe, Merson’s running and distribution were exemplary. It is just a shame that no one else could emulate him.
With Craig Bellamy relegated to the bench, Coventry ended the game with Mustapha Hadji partnering John Aloisi up front. He proved quite at home there, however, and his left-foot finish after Aloisi flicked on David Thompson’s cross was emphatic. ‘Although we should have been further ahead by then,’ said Gregory grudgingly, ‘they probably deserved their equaliser on the balance of play.’
Strachan must now translate tempo into technique if his side are to escape from the relegation mire. Until then, Coventry’s hard work must continue.
Monday, 27 November, 2000
Match Report from Simon Burnton
Hadji goal papers over the cracks
After five successive defeats the scrappiest point would have been enough to please Coventry’s support. And that is what they got, after a match that was more about vigour than vision, more muddy than memorable.
Neither team, in truth, would have been entirely satisfied with the result but the game at least saw the end of a pair of miserable runs. Not only did Coventry fail to lose, just, but Dion Dublin took the opportunity of a game against his former club to put an end to a scoreless streak that had entered its third month.
It took Dublin only eight minutes to score his goal, created by Ian Taylor after Paul Williams had stumbled over a simple interception. “He was trying to make out that there was nothing wrong,” said John Gregory, “but you know deep down that he’s been very concerned. Without doubt he’s very aware of his responsibilities but he’s not allowed too much to get to him.”
With Julian Joachim and Darius Vassell injured and Gilles de Bilde still warming the bench, Dublin is the only goalscorer Villa have at present. “I want someone to come in and put pressure on him,” said Gregory. “I’d like competition for places but we don’t really have that here at the moment. We need to spend some cash but I might have just one opportunity to spend money, so I’ve got to get it right.”
Gordon Strachan decided to leave his £6.5m signing, Craig Bellamy, on the bench on Saturday after he had scored once in 12 games. “Young Craig will do a fine job eventually,” said Strachan, “but it was a day when another player suited the team. He’ll be back, no doubt about it, and he’ll learn from that.”
Sadly Bellamy’s omission left a place in the side for the plodding Cédric Roussel, whose performance was mercifully curtailed by the half-time arrival of John Aloisi. Coventry may have given their all but they showed little ability, generally choosing to panic rather than pass, and should have been out of the game before their late comeback.
Villa were little better. Paul Merson alone stood out for his control and vision; he presented Lee Hendrie with a chance to finish the game early in the second half, only to see the midfielder blaze wastefully over. It appeared, though, that Villa would be able to withstand what pressure Coventry created until Mustapha Hadji met Aloisi’s flick-on with a crisp, left-foot finish.
“It was great to score,” said Hadji. “It was a great relief because it stops all the talk about our run.” But Coventry have still won only once in 12 league games and hover perilously close to the bottom three. If they want to end talk of bad runs, they will have to do better than this.