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FOOTBALL: SKY BLUES: Sky Blues through on a fluke; SKY BLUES BIG MATCH REPORT.

Byline: By ALAN POOLE

Match ANALYSIS

CITY made tediously heavy weather of seeing off lower-grade opposition who conceded a freakish goal and were reduced to 10 men in the space of three pivotal first-half minutes.

True, they might have enjoyed a far smoother ride into the third round had substitute Claus Jorgensen not been brazenly barged off the ball as he shaped to head the rebound into an empty net when his original looping attempt was parried by a full-stretch David Lucas.

But, embarrassingly, his assailant was team-mate Patrick Suffo, whose attempt to get in on the act saw the loose ball trundle tamely wide - a bizarre intervention that produced a furious rebuke from Jorgensen and a prolonged sulk by the Cameroon striker.

It was Wednesday, therefore, who were left complaining about a possible penalty that got away when Steve MacLean went to ground (a mite too eagerly, perhaps) as Matthew Mills challenged just inside the area.

And, with City seemingly uncertain whether to cling on to their slender advantage or seek a decisive second, it was the League One visitors who piled forward in the closing stages, even keeper Lucas charging upfield to add his weight to a last-gasp corner.

No wonder Sky Blues boss Peter Reid sported the frown immortalised in song as he struggled to find an explanation for his side's lack of attacking fluency.

He no doubt expected the early flurry from a side whose underdog adrenaline was pumped up to overdose proportions by the presence of manager-in-waiting Paul Sturrock in the Highfield Road directors box and a block of visiting fans who comprehensively outsung the local contingent.

But a defence featuring three teenagers - on-loan duo Luke Steel and Mills and home-grown debutant Stuart Giddings - coped with no great difficulty. The keeper's alertness avoided the need for any acrobatics, Mills confirmed the composed impression he created against Rotherham on Saturday and Giddings, his sometime England Under-19 partner, slotted in impressively in Steve Staunton's left-back berth and sparked those home fans into life when he won two crunching block tackles on a long-haul overlap.

A belatedly flowing move between Michael Doyle, Stern John and Bjarni Gudjonsson had the same effect but failed to produce a pay-off as Graham Barrett, arriving at the near-post at full pelt, was just unable to direct the Icelander's low cross.

And City duly broke through in the 36th minute when Barrett's right-wing dash was rudely interrupted by MacLean - the Sheffield midfielder complaining that he had won the ball but omitting to add that, in the process, he went through the back of the Irishman's legs.

It proved a costly rush of blood as Doyle whipped a regulation left-foot free-kick into the packed area and the ball curled just inside the far post with Lucas fatally distracted. Initially it seemed that the ball had grazed off the stooping John, but City rushed to congratulate Doyle on his unexpected bonus while Lee Bullen talked his way to a yellow card by demanding an improbable offside decision.

If that was silly, Glenn Whelan was guilty of sheer stupidity three minutes later when he stamped on the grounded Mills just outside City's penalty area.

Whelan has plenty of 'previous' - he started the season with a three- match ban hanging over from his Manchester City days. And referee Paul Armstrong, whose gaze had lingered on the pair while all other eyes were following the ball, instantly produced his red card, handing Sky Blues the perfect opportunity to take complete command of the tie.

It didn't work out that way because, following the Suffo-Jorgensen collision two minutes into the second half, they seemed devoid of ideas on how to find chinks in Wednesday's crowded and combative midfield formation.

Gudjonsson came closest with some well-intentioned crosses, Doyle was as industrious as ever and Jorgensen produced a couple of delightful touches. But John and Suffo looked too much of a muchness up front and City could have done with a touch of the directness shown by Wednesday substitute Chris Brunt, whose left boot proved a clubbing long-range threat when he was thrown on for the final half-hour.

Fortunately for City, he couldn't quite find the accuracy to supplement that power and, having granted young Giddings a standing ovation when cramp curtailed his debut 10 minutes early, the Sky Blue Army went home planning next month's trip to glamorous Middlesbrough.

The boot of expectation will be on the other foot at the Riverside - but, all else being equal, the Sky Blues probably can't afford to start tackling each other up there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Coventry 1 Sheffield W 0

HIGHFIELD ROAD

Attendance: 8,362

THE TEAMS

Coventry City (4-4-2): Luke Steele; Louis Carey, Richard Shaw, Matthew Mills, Stuart Giddings (82 mins, Andrew Whing); Bjarni Gudjonsson, Michael Doyle, Graham Barrett (45 mins, Claus Jorgensen), Neil Wood; Patrick Suffo (75 mins, Eddie Johnson), Stern John.

Subs not used: Scott Shearer (goalkeeper), Isaac Osbourne.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-5-1): David Lucas; Ross Greenwood, Lee Bullen, Patrick Collins, Paul Smith; Jon Paul McGovern, Glenn Whelan, Chris Marsden, Lewis McMahon (80 mins, John Shaw), Steve MacLean; Adam Proudlock (61 mins, Chris Brunt).

Subs not used: Liam Needham, Robert Poulter, Luke Foster.

CLOCKWATCH

2 mins: Jon Paul McGovern curls free-kick just wide.

4 mins: David Lucas blocks at Stern John's feet.

9 mins: Luke Steele parries Adam Proudlock's shot with his legs.

12 mins: Steele races out of his area to kick clear from McGovern.

15 mins: John meets Bjarni Gudjonsson's deep cross with a powerful header straight into Lucas's hands.

16 mins: Stuart Giddings clears Paul Smith's dangerous cross to the far post.

17 mins: Richard Shaw's last-ditch tackle denies Lewis McMahon.

27 mins: Graham Barrett can't quite turn home Gudjonsson's low cross to the near post.

36 mins: City take the lead as Michael Doyle's free-kick from the right touchline curls inside the far post as Lucas is distracted by John's challenge.

39 mins: Glenn Whelan sent off for stamping on Matthew Mills on the edge of the City area.

47 mins: Half-time substitute Claus Jorgensen is denied by a full-stretch Lucas save and then barged off the ball by team-mate Patrick Suffo as he tries to head home the rebound.

57 mins: Gudjonsson stretches well to make contact with Doyle's right- wing cross but can't control the shot.

63 mins: Wednesday sub Chris Brunt fires a 30-yard free-kick just over the bar.

72 mins: Sheffield appeal in vain for a penalty as Mills challenged Steve MacLean just inside the box.

73 mins: Jorgensen wide with a diving header from Gudjonsson's cross.

75 mins: MacLean's wide with a diving header from Brunt's curling shot- cum-cross.

77 mins: Brunt close with a 25-yard free-kick.

78 mins: Stuart Giddings meets Gudjonsson's cross with an on-target header but Lucas saves comfortably.

91 mins: Steele is under severe pressure as he fists away Ross Greenwood's cross.

92 mins: Brunt's angled drive from the left deflects off Shaw and skims past the far post.

REFEREE: Paul Armstrong (Berkshire)

BOOKINGS: Lee Bullen (33 mins, dissent), Bjarni Gudjohnsson (76 mins, foot-up challenge on Ross Greenwood), Andrew Whing (85 mins, body-check on Lee Bullen). SENT OFF: Glenn Whelan (38 mins, stamping on Matthew Mills).

THE MANAGERS' VERDICT

Peter Reid

WE DID not pass the ball well and the desire did not seem to be there. If they had not had a lad sent off things could have turned out very differently.

I thought we worked hard, but, in terms of passing and movement, we were under par.

Richard Shaw, Michael Doyle and the young defender Matthew Mills have played well, but apart from that there is not too much to be pleased about.

Wednesday came and made it difficult for us, and some of the long balls they were putting in were difficult to deal with.

Mark Smith

FOR THEIR goal, you have to look at the challenge which led to the free kick, and there is nothing wrong with it, but between them the linesman and the referee have got it wrong.

I didn't see the sending off, but I've spoken to Glenn, and he says he caught the lad, but it was momentum on the greasy surface. To send someone off for violent conduct there has to be intent, and I don't think that was the case.

Steve MacLean got round the defender who brought him down - if that challenge had been at the other end, it would have been a penalty.

MATCH STATS

COVENTRY SHEFFIELD WED

7 Shots on target 3 8 Shots off target 8 1 Corners 6 0 Offside

5 15 Fouls 12 2 Yellow cards 1 0 Red cards 1

STAR MAN

Luke Steele

CONFIDENT and sharp, the young on-loan Manchester United asset dealt with anything that eluded a generally tight Sky Blues defence.

CAPTION(S):

D22181_4. D22181_5. IF LOOKS COULD KILL: Claus Jorgensen was furious and Patrick Suffo shame-faced after the second-half tangle that denied the Sky Blues a second goal Pictures: RICHARD NELMES; D22181_8 . BREAKTHROUGH: Michael Doyle's free-kick flies over friend and foe in a pakced Wednesday penalty area to nestle just inside the far post and give Sky Blues their ticket to the third round; D22181_12. FACE IN THE CROWD: Paul Sturrock watched last night's match on the eve of taking over as the new manager at Hillsbrough
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 23, 2004
Words:1557
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