Coventry City 1 -
Half-time: 0 - 0
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 Game 29
Wednesday 15 December 1999
Highfield Road, Coventry
New arrival (or should that be "Old Arrival"?) Mark Hughes
made his debut for Everton tonight at the ripe old age of 36,
much to the amusement of Gordon Strachan, who dubbed tonight's display
the new Jurrasic Park.
At the back, Unsworth was still not fit, so Collins was
again at left back, and Paul Gerrard retained his goalie's jersey
he is now clearly the new Everton Number 1. Cadamarteri
made way for the old warrior as Walter pushed
Sparky up front from the start to see what he could do for the
Toffees... and Everton started quite brightly,
playing some good attacking football in the early
exchanges. But Coventry came back into it, with
Gerrard making a few good saves while some good Everton
chances went begging.
Some worrying times for Everton in the second half as
Coventry had the slight edge over the Toffees and Walter
Smith was forced to make some changes, but it was the
Peruvian Coventry sub, Zuniga, who made the telling
difference. A ding-dong battle ensued with more
chances going begging, until finally, in the last 5 mins,
who else but Gary McAllister was there to stab the ball into the net after a
Roussel header rebounded off the post.
Subs Not Used
Hedman, Gustafsson, Burrows, Shaw, Hendry, Hadji,
Eustace (81' Zuniga), McAllister, Chippo, Whelan, Roussel.
Hyldgaard, Breen, Normann, Quinn.
Gerrard; Dunne, Weir, Gough, Collins;
Barmby (81' Gemmill) , Pembridge, S Hughes (70' Unsworth), Xavier;
Moore (66' Cadamarteri), M Hughes.
Unavailable: Ball (ill/unfit?);
Cleland, Campbell, Jeffers, Williamson,
(injured); Hutchison (transfer-listed).
Sky blue/ dark blue shirts, shorts &
Yellow shirts; yellow shorts; yellow socks.
Back to reality as mid-table obscurity reaches out her welcoming chiffon
I haven't even spent the customary half hour examining the table and
pondering what might have been, but I do know this. We've been within a
whisker of taking a few more points than two out of our last nine.
And it could even have been the full complement.
The Soccernet report which reasoned thus:
>Everton had had the better of a poor first half, with the presence
>of Hendry and Gough failing to mask both sides' lack of cutting
>edge up front.
Very harsh I thought. Some of our football was a joy to watch, we
garnered the vast majority of possession, and with a touch more luck or
vision might have easily sewn the game up. Jo-Mo's hopeful shot after a
particularly neat string of passes whilst the old Hughes waited in the box
unmarked and with clear sight of goal springs readily to mind.
The old dog himself looked a class act in every sense, the harrying and
winning ball after ball followed by neat passing was a joy to watch. Even
the trademark overhead shot got an airing.
Honours from the first half went, however, to David Weir whose composure
in defence is sometimes breathtaking. Such Coventry imagination as there was
foundered on this rock.
Its no exaggeration to say we battered them, and the second half was
eagerly anticipated. A shame.
Hughes flagged, a question mark over his general fitness level as
dragging his body into the box became ever more of struggle. Coventry
took a greater level of possession as their midfield finally cottoned on to
the fact that Xavier was merely making up the numbers, and oh, we cried out
for a winger.
A lacklustre second half then, where either side might have stolen
it. McAllister finally did. Walter's substitutions surprisingly
started as early as the 60th minute or so. Squid for Joe instead of
Hughes? Well, we need the old bastard match fit as soon as reasonably
possible I s'pose.
A disappointment then for the trek back, but I'll take heart from a
thoroughly entertaining first half. Don't let 'em tell you otherwise.
Oh, and the chant? HUGHSIE... HUGHSIE...
In the end it didn't matter for which one.
McAllister's stops the rot
by By Phil Shaw, The Independent
After eight hours and 36 minutes without a goal, Coventry's scoring
drought finally ended when their captain, Gary McAllister, pounced four
minutes from the end of what looked certain to be a barren stalemate with
Everton at Highfield Road last night.
McAllister, scrambling the ball in from close range, reached double
figures for the season after Cedric Roussel had struck the post with a
header. His intervention not only ensured that Everton did not climb into
the Premiership's top six but continued their miserable run at Coventry –
where they have not won since 1993 – and left the Sky Blues nine points
clear of the relegation zone.
A home victory on Saturday over Bradford City, the highest placed of the
bottom three, would put Coventry within two points of the 40 mark which
reputedly guarantees safety. Yet while Noel Whelan hit the same upright
shortly before the winner, Everton often appeared the likelier winners, with
David Burrows heading off the line from Abel Xavier before McAllister
It was fitting that the 35-year-old Scot should settle the contest, for
the match resembled a convention of veteran Caledonian captains, with
McAllister and Colin Hendry pitted against Richard Gough and John Collins.
Their ages total 138, prompting Coventry's manager, Gordon Strachan, to dub
the fixture "Jurassic Park".
Mark Hughes, making his Everton debut at 36, proved he is no dinosaur
with a sprightly back-heeled effort after Joe-Max Moore and Nick Barmby
opened up Coventry in the sixth minute. The Welsh warrior, one of six
thirtysomethings on view, otherwise had a quiet match.
Everton, enjoying the luxury of not being embroiled in a scrap for
survival, set up Mark Pembridge for a volley which he sent wastefully wide
and Abel Xavier for a drive that was deflected for a corner. Magnus Hedman
also saved athletically from Moore on the stroke of half-time. By contrast,
an anxious Coventry created only one opening in the first half. Whelan
connected forcefully with Mustapha Hadji's low cross to the near post only
for Paul Gerrard to block with a foot at point-blank range.
The cleverness of the injured Robbie Keane was sorely missed by Coventry.
However, after Hedman had tipped Gough's downward header from Mark
Pembridge's flag-kick over the bar, they belatedly began to exert pressure
Hadji, unmarked 10 yards from goal, fired straight into Gerrard's
midriff, and Whelan hit the woodwork after dispossessing Gerrard.
Fortunately for the health of an increasingly agitated Strachan,
McAllister's aim proved truer.
Coventry provide welcome relief for Strachan
by David McVay, The Times
THE barren spell is over for Coventry City, but they left it
uncomfortably late at Highfield Road last night. Gary McAllister swept home
the decisive strike from close range with five minutes remaining after
Cedric Roussel's header had rebounded off a post. After waiting 490 minutes
for the goal, Coventry supporters were entitled to celebrate, but of greater
significance were the three FA Carling Premiership points that ended a run
of four successive defeats. Another lapse would have increased the downward
spiral that has dragged Coventry into the relegation fight.
At least the result may have allowed Gordon Strachan to relax last night.
The Coventry manager has confessed to losing sleep over his side's alarming
fall, caused by several inept performances, but the opening 45 minutes of
this match would surely have cured any insomniac.
Strachan said that his players were anxious in those early encounters but
shorn of the injured Robbie Keane's creative input, Coventry's attacking
options suffered. For their part, Everton, who gave Mark Hughes his debut,
advanced with purpose.
Joe-Max Moore might have punished poor defending although Colin Hendry,
on his first appearance at Highfield Road for his new club, gradually
marshalled his defence into a cohesive unit. A corner shortly after the interval gave encouragement to Coventry, but
its execution, marred by a lack of communication between McAllister and
David Burrows, epitomised their team's stilted progress.
Coventry drew inspiration from the Moroccan pairing of Moustapha Hadji
and Youssef Chippo but for all their artistry, a set-piece looked the most
likely source of a breakthrough. In the 77th minute, Paul Gerrard, the
Everton goalkeeper, confirmed the feeling that a stalemate was inevitable
when he fumbled a loose ball to the feet of Roussel but, with the goal
beckoning, the Belgian centre-forward contrived to hit a post.
Everton should also have scored but Richard Gough was thwarted by the
agility of Magnus Hedman, the Coventry goalkeeper, and when he was defeated,
Burrows cleared a goal-bound lob by Abel Xavier off the line in a tense
finale. "It was a good game to have won," a relieved Strachan
said. "You can't go from playing badly to playing the sort of stuff we
were performing a month or so ago. That needs to be built up again.
Hopefully this is the first stage of a recovery."
Times Newspapers Ltd
Hughes fails to spark Everton
John Ley, Electronic Telegraph
COVENTRY City finally broke their dismal sequence without a goal when one of
the game's golden oldies, Gary McAllister, claimed his team's first strike
for eight hours and 34 minutes to secure a valuable victory last night.
Manager Gordon Strachan described Highfield Road as resembling Jurassic
Park because of the high number of 30-somethings on show. The Coventry
manager had three over that mark, including Colin Hendry on his home debut,
while Everton employed similar geriatric tactics, with Mark Hughes, 36,
making his first start alongside 37-year-old Richard Gough and John Collins,
It would not have been too surprising had Strachan turned out himself,
such is Coventry's plight. They went into last night's game on the
back of four successive defeats without a goal and with the manager claiming
his team had been showing signs of anxiety.
Certainly it was Everton, despite missing injured strikers Kevin Campbell
and John Jeffers, who started the stronger and with Wales manager Hughes,
partnering Joe-Max Moore in attack, starting brightly.
Only two minutes had passed when another newcomer called Hughes, former
Arsenal midfielder Stephen, shot over from 20 yards. Then, when Moore
fed Nick Barmby, his cross from the right was back-heeled by Mark Hughes and
cleared by Coventry's John Eustace.
Coventry, obviously weakened by the continued absence of Robbie Keane,
rarely appeared capable of troubling Paul Gerrard, the Everton goalkeeper,
with their approach play poor.
That was until the 37th minute when Moustapha Hadji's pass from the right
found Noel Whelan but the transfer-listed striker's attempt was thwarted by
Gerrard's impressive deflection at the near post.
Coventry survived again when Collins, playing as a makeshift left back,
robbed Eustace, fed Moore and the American was denied only by the
athleticism of goalkeeper Magnus Hedman. Everton might have opened the
scoring when, from Barmby's corner, Gough's looping header fell onto the top
Coventry responded when Eustace, unmarked, shot over and then Hadji's
shot was deflected narrowly over. From the resultant corner, Whelan's
attempt was cleared by Richard Dunne. With an hour played, Everton created
another opportunity but, from Mark Pembridge's corner, Gough's downward
header was pushed over by Hedman.
Whelan disposessed Gerrard and was faced with an open target but he
struck the foot of the left-hand post when it would have been easier to
score. However, in the 86th minute, after Cedric Roussel struck a post
again, McAllister followed up to claim a vital three points.