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BBC Sport's David Oates
"Coventry won't give-up the top flight without a fight"
 real 14k

Coventry manager Gordon Strachan
"I think their goalkeeper had a big red 'S' under his shirt"
 real 56k

Coventry match winner John Hartson
"All we can do is win our games"
 real 56k

Sunderland boss Peter Reid
"We weren't good enough to take advantage"
 real 56k

Monday, 16 April, 2001, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Hartson header sinks sorry Sunderland
John Hartson opens the scoring for Coventry
John Hartson celebrates his crucial first-half strike
Coventry 1-0 Sunderland

John Hartson's fifth goal in four Premiership matches boosted Coventry's survival hopes and put a major dent in Sunderland's chase for a European place.

Hartson headed home Lee Carsley's 21st-minute cross to seal a precious victory for Gordon Strachan's side, who now boast three wins in their last four games.

  Key moments
20 mins: Thome hacks clear after Sorensen races out of his penalty area but misses the ball
21 mins: Carsley's cross is clinically headed home by Hartson
49 mins: Varga sent off for second booking after another foul on Bothroyd
56 mins: Sorensen superbly saves from Bothroyd strike
85 mins: Phillips fires into side-netting as Sunderland finish strongly
90 mins: Coventry survive a last-minute scramble after Kirkland fails to pick up a throw-back

Hartson's goals have been crucial in that run and he looked hungry for more from the first whistle.

Gordon Strachan must now be cursing the protracted transfer saga which prevented the much-travelled star joining his relegation battlers earlier in the season.

Hartson, though, is clearly intent on making up for lost time.

He wasted an early chance to continue his golden goal streak when he had two swings at a loose ball before seeing a tame shot cleared.

Sunderland's defence was clearly unsettled by his presence, Stanislav Varga and Emerson Thome both struggling to subdue the former Wimbledon player.

And there was little Sunderland could do to deny Coventry their opener as the home side conjured up a goal of sheer quality.

I thought their keeper was phenominal. He put in a Superman performance
  Coventry manager Gordon Strachan

The move started down the left flank but quickly switched to the right, with John Eustace's deep pass chested down by Jay Bothroyd, allowing Lee Carsley to chip across for Hartson to head clinically home.

Sunderland had barely offered a threat up until that moment, but they responded well and should have been level on the stroke of half time.

Julio Arca's shot looped into the air and dropped to Varga in front of goal as the Coventry defence stood and appealed in vain for offside.

The flag never came but neither did a goal as Varga failed to make a proper contact with only the keeper to beat.
Coventry manager Gordon Strachan
Strachan suffered a nail-biting finish

Varga's day went from bad to worse four minutes into the second half as he was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Both challenges were more messy than malicious and both were on young striker Bothroyd.

From the resulting free-kick, Hartson dropped a header onto the top of the crossbar and the red card signalled a spell of constant Coventry pressure.

Bothroyd was denied by a stunning save by Sorensen, who palmed his stinging drive over the bar and then repeated the trick to deny Bothroyd again within a minute.

But for the Danish international goalkeeper, Sunderland's hopes would have been buried at an early stage.

If I said Dermot Gallagher was a homer and hopeless then I would get in trouble, so I'm not going to say that. I would rather say he struggled.
  Sunderland boss Peter Reid

Sorensen was again at his agile best to deny Craig Bellamy with a brave double save and Eustace was also denied by the outstanding keeper.

But Sorensen's heroics merely papered over the cracks for Sunderland, who were well beaten by a Coventry side desperate to preserve their remarkable 35-season stay in the Premiership.

Hartson, whose goals narrowly failed to keep Wimbledon in the Premiership last season, could be the man to ensure Coventry's love affair with the top flight continues.

Coventry: Kirkland, Quinn, Breen, Shaw, Hall, Eustace, Telfer, Carsley, Bellamy, Hartson, Bothroyd. Subs: Hedman, Williams, Thompson, Chippo, Zuniga.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Williams, Thome, Varga, McCartney, Kilbane, Schwarz, McCann, Arca, Hutchison, Phillips. Subs: Quinn, Craddock, Thirlwell, Butler, Macho.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)

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