Looking Forward

 

COVENTRY CITY

FA Cup 3rd Round

Wednesday 16th January 2002

The fact that the Highfield Road pitch was frozen, leading to the postponement of the match on New Years Day means that Spurs face a tricky tie against the recently relegated Midlands side.  Even if the pitch gets passed as playable, the heat that has been put into it over the last few days will mean that as soon as the game is underway, it will start to harden in the cold air.  With the rested Sky Blues up for it and a rock hard pitch, the conditions will be stack against Tottenham, but it is these games that they have to win to progress.

Sitting in eighth position in the First Division, the main aim of the Sky Blues will be to retain their Premiership place, but that is a harder feat to achieve than maybe they thought.  Having sold some of their better known players to fund rebuilding, the departure of Gordon Strachan as manager has made the incoming Roland Nilsson's job one with a steep learning curve.  He has steadied the ship, but the lack of depth to the squad means he will have a battle on to gain promotion.  They have won two and lost three of their last five League matches and the ones they have lost have been against their promotion rivals.  They have to pick points up from these games to gat back in the big time.

In the goalkeeping department, they have Magnus Hedman, Andy Goram, Gary Montgomery.  Montgomery is a youngster who has had a chance this season in the wake of Chris Kirkland leaving for Liverpool.  However, having brought in the experienced (and ever so slightly tubby) Goram, he will probably not feature.  First choice is the imposing figure of Magnus Hedman.  Touted as another possible departure with Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool his rumoured destination, he has chosen to stay and get first team football in his quest for a place in the Swedish World Cup squad.  An accomplished keeper, but Spurs might be able to find a chink in his armour with some decent crosses (for a change).

Marc Edworthy and Richard Shaw were both former Crystal Palace players and have been playing on eaither side of the back four.  Both like to get forward, but Shaw is now getting to the veteran stage and will probably hang back more than Edworthy.  It should be possible for the Tottenham wing-backs to push up on them and get past to deliver crosses into the box. 
Republic of Ireland central defender Gary Breen has been in good form, until he was hit with injury.  Just coming back, he has been in training hoping to play and if he does, he will be an obstacle to Spurs scoring.  Tall and able to play the ball out of defence, he is causing a lot of concern at Coventry by failing to agree to a new contract, leading to a lot of clubs sniffing around should City decide to sell.
Muhamed Konjic is a 6' man mountain that Spurs will have to get past to have any chance of scoring.  Having played in his home country of Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Switzerland and France, he has had a lot of experience, but he might not be quite up to mastering Premier League forwards.  His height is his advantage, but his bulk is not, so perhaps a nippy player might be the one to play against him. 
Tomas Antonelius is a Swede who has just started getting a start after being signed from AIK Solna with an injury.  He is not the only Swede in defence, as his manager, Roland Nilsson, is still registered to play, although it is unlikely he will pull on his boots again for this match.
Once touted as an England international, Marcus Hall has slipped out of the limelight.  He has been a regular in the side, but his pace seems to have deserted him and any attacking instincts have also been put on hold, while he re-establishes himself at Coventry. 
Honduran international Ivan Guerrero has been an irregular player in the side, with a place on the bench a more likely pick for him.
Youngster Barry Quinn has enjoyed a good run in the City side, sometimes doubling up at right back.  He is a great hope and has settled into the side in midfield alongside a fellow Irishman Lee Carsley, who is a more familiar face, having played for Derby and Blackburn in the Premier League.  A hard worker, he tries to get up to support the forwards, but if Tottenham are in the ascendancy, he should be back defending his own goal more often than not.
Runar Normann is yet another Scandinavian  who joined the club from Norwegian club Lillestrom, but has been out with a hernia op and is not yet fit to regain his place in the side.  John Eustace made a bit of a name for himself when he first burst into the Coventry side last season, scoring a few goals.  However, he has suffered with injury this season that has limited him to only one game, so it is not likely that he will play in this game.

Yousef Safri is another new name and another Moroccan in the City side.  A defensive midfielder, who likes to get a rocket shot on goal in, he has become an integral part of the City set-up.  Playing alongside his fellow countryman Youssef Chippo, they make a lot of things happen for the Sky Blues and both need to be carefully tracked by the Spurs midfielders.

Promising former youth star, Lee Fowler, has been given a chance in the side since Nilsson took over, but it is more than likely that he will make way for more experienced team-mates for this match and much the same goes for recent addition to squad from the youth team Callum Davenport. 

Laurent Delorge is a big Belgian who has shown a certain degree of skill in his appearances for Coventry.  Only 22, but strongly built, he is an attacking midfielder, who will look for a shot on goal.  Broke a leg in the reserves after only 40 minutes of his first match, but now he is fit, he is looking to make up for lost time.  Former Middlesbrough winger Keith O'Neill has not made the impact he would have hoped for after dropping down a division.  A natural left-winger, he has pace and skill, but sometimes his weight and temper are his worst opponents.  Unsurprisingly Gavin Strachan is not getting the chances in the first team he might have expected under his father's management, but he is still young and has time on his side.

Most of Cov's goals have come from the boots of Lee Hughes and David Thompson.  The West Brom striker left the Hawthorns for a more ambitious club and the fact that they paid one pound over the asking fee by WBA should have told him how ambitious they were.  Regardless, Hughes is an ace goalscorer and will have to be marked tightly to prevent him having even half chances.  Refs are obviously watching him closely too as he has been sent off twice already this season.  Thompson joined from Liverpool and has had a rough time, being left out and when he did play getting involved in stuff that he shouldn't have done.  A speedy winger-cum- midfielder, on the short side though, he has the ability to cut inside and hit a fierce shot.

Lee Mills has signed for £250,000 from Portsmouth this week and, despite admitting he is only 80% match fit, he is a tough, tall centre forward, who will try and knock on balls for Hughes or get in amongst our defenders himself.  Julian Joachim was part of the deal that took Mustafa Hadji to Aston Villa and the little forward has been called on rarely, with Mill snow the preferred partner for Hughes.  Honduran Jairo Martinez came over with Gurrero and has chipped in with a few goals already.  He plays a scoring role in the reserves and might be brought on if things are in need of a goal ,much like Peruvian Ysrael Zuniga, who is often called upon from the bench.  Former Gooner Jay Bothroyd has become a regular in the side and has responded with a few goals.  A temperamental sort, he is tall and speedy, with a knack, ever since he was in the England schools side, of knowing where the goal is.  His height is a benefit to his striking instincts, but he is skillful on the ground too.

With much to prove to their Premiership opponents, Coventry will be trying to repeat their famous FA Cup victory of 1987.  They have a fairly good record against Spurs of late too, especially at Highfield Road, but with any luck and some fresh legs in the side, Tottenham should be bale to record the following scoreline ...

PREDICTION : -  Coventry City  1  Tottenham   2

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

 

 

Coventry City  0  Tottenham  2                                  (Half time score: 0-1)
FA CUP THIRD ROUND
Wednesday 16th January 2002
Kick Off :   7.45 p.m.
Weather : -  Cold
Crowd : -   20,758
Referee : -   Mr. N. Barry (Cleethorpes)

Scorers : -   Coventry City  -   None
                  Tottenham  -  Poyet 23, Ferdinand 52

CARDS

Coventry City :   Shaw (foul) 34, Konjic (foul) 47, Breen (foul) 51

Tottenham :  Sherwood (foul) 45

TEAMS 

Coventry City : Hedman; Edworthy, Konjic, Breen, Shaw; Antonelius (Martinez 71), Carsley (Quinn 69), Thompson, Betts; Bothroyd (Delorge 79), Joachim
Unused Subs : Hyldgaard, Fowler

Spurs :  Sullivan; Perry, Richards, King; Taricco, Anderton (Leonhardsen 80), Poyet, Sherwood, Davies; Rebrov, Ferdinand (Iversen 71)
Unused Subs : Keller, Gardner, Etherington

COLOURS

Coventry City :  Sky blue shirts,  sky blue shorts, sky blue socks

Spurs :  White shirts, navy blue shorts, navy blue socks

Being welcomed to the ground by the sight of the 1987 Coventry City FA Cup winning team was not the ideal way to start the evening.  The mustard suit of Dave Bennett, the bald pate of Micky Gynn and the flowing locks of Brian Kilcline all made for the impressive history for which CCFC are known.  How times have changed them and how times have changed the current side.  

In truth, this match was easier in the flesh than it might have appeared on paper.  Coventry, fresh from a 1-3 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers, looked like a side grateful for a 0-2 loss to Spurs.  They chased and ran, but their passing and shooting was woeful and it is not hard to see why they are mid-table in the First Division.

Spurs could have picked them off at will, with the Sky Blues fans sarcastically cheering Magnus Hedman when he came for a cross and giving the "olés" when their side managed to string three or four passes together.  It was sad to see really.

With Spurs knocking the ball about for fun, City players chased shadows and wore themselves out doing so.  The bookings were all for fouls, as they tried in vain to get the ball, but only succeeded in getting the man.  Much like they didn't for the first goal.  Taricco fed Anderton on the left flank and his cross flew over everyone in the middle, but was picked up by Simon Davies on the other wing.  He looked up and crossed it into a space in the six yard box where Poyet arrived to head low into the net.  No marker anywhere near and the tie almost wrapped up.

There were a few efforts from distance, one of which from Joachim flew over the bar, but in a match where even Taricco had more meaningful attempts at goal than the whole of the home side, Tottenham's dominance was complete.  The Argentine shot wide, then had a header go wide, before unleashing a 20-yarder that flew just over the bar, as he seemed convinced that tonight was the night for his first Tottenham goal.

As it was, the second Spurs goal came from Les, who followed in a cross that was poked against his own goalpost by Breen and Ferdinand was on hand to tap in from a foot out.  The ball had been well worked wide, but when an even better move swept upfield and from a similar cross, Tim Sherwood managed to get the ball up and over the bar from a couple of feet out !!

Chances came from all angles; Ledley could have got a shot in as he moved forward into the box, Iversen blazed over, Rebrov had a few unconvincing pot shots, while Les also had one flash across the face of goal.

Sullivan kept a clean sheet without really being stretched and the defence did what they had to do well.  It is hard to say that the team did well, as they really only did well enough.  Passing the ball to maintain their rhythm, they did not get the goals the performance deserved, but perhaps they are saving some for next Wednesday ??

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  SIMON DAVIES

Pete Stachio

 

SKY BLUE HEAVEN

 

All the old faces that Coventry pulled out before the game could not re-create another FA Cup shock.  It shouldn't have happened in 1987 and didn't tonight.  In fact, City might have been better with some of the old boys out in the side for this match, as the team under Roland Nilsson look doomed to a lengthy spell in the First Division.  They looked a mere shadow of the relegation fighting side of years gone by.

Tottenham started off passing the ball crisply and that continued until the very end.  In between they cut the Coventry defence to ribbons, like the ones that adorned the Cup that day in May 1987, when Hoddle played his last match for Tottenham.  But this time they fluttered to deceive, as Spurs went about their business in a manner that said that would not fall into the same trap again.  With old heads running on young legs, Poyet, Ferdinand and Anderton caused holes to appear every time they got near the ball.  With young legs playing with old heads, King and Davies turned in performances beyond their years, which helped steer Tottenham to victory.

Goals did indeed come from the old heads - one literally, as Poyet ghosted in to nod home as the Coventry defenders were statuesque.  His timing was expert and brought to mind Martin Peters in his execution of the goal.  Les got an old foot to an attempted interception of a low Anderton cross, but Breen only succeeded in diverting it against the woodwork and Ferdie was on hand to prod home before Hedman could recover.  This brought to mind the sort of goal, we need players to score rather than the "Goal of the Month" efforts they normally want to score.

With chances to score coming along every few minutes, Tottenham maintained a pace and accuracy to their passing that made it hard for Coventry to get back into the match.  It must be hoped that Bolton, who beat Stockport 4-1 away tonight, will face a similar display from Tottenham, as on this evidence, I would fancy us to give most sides the runaround when in this form.

With most of the players having an easy enough time and Anderton and Ferdinand substituted to make them fresher for the coming games, the stat to an important week went very well.  Sheringham's return will add impetus to the way the team go forward and that can only help things. 

The Funky Phantom

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