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Olympics2000



BBC Five Live's John Roder
reports from Highfield Road.
 real 14k

Saturday, 9 September, 2000, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Leeds and Coventry fail to fire
Craig Bellamy and Michael Duberry
Bellamy could never escape the attentions of Duberry
Coventry City 0-0 Leeds United

Both sides will be keen to forget this lacklustre and, at times, mean-spirited contest.

The game started brightly enough, with chances at both ends, but both defences soon got on top of proceedings and that is the way it stayed.

Leeds, and Michael Bridges in particular, will perhaps feel more disappointed as they shaded it in terms of goal-scoring opportunities.

But with both sides struggling to find the telling pass, Coventry's John Eustace missed a glaring chance to steal the points at the death.

Carlton Palmer made a nuisance of himself at a rare Coventry corner allowing Paul Williams to head to Eustace who was lurking only yards in front of Nigel Martyn. The substitute, however, wildly fired the ball over.

Spark

A turgid second half was sparked into life by a flowing Coventry move that produced the game's best chance until Eustace's late howler.

Chippo broke up a Leeds attack deep in his own half and quickly moved the ball forward to Craig Bellamy.

The 6m striker found Hadji on the right and his pin-point cross was headed down by Cedric Roussel only for the on-rushing Chippo to nod over the bar from only five yards out.


I felt there were a lot of dubious decisions today, and we should have had a penalty. Huckerby had his legs taken from him by Chippo. It was a naive challenge, but he is not a defender. Darren is not a cheat. The referee was right on it - but he walked away
  Leeds United manager David O'Leary on referee Paul Durkin
Leeds then marched down the field only to see Stephen McPhail's fierce volley from the edge of the area graze the Coventry crossbar.

Five minutes later Magnus Hedman had to save well after Lee Bowyer burst into the box and unleashed a low drive.

Both sides started the match seemingly intent on repeating last season's seven-goal thriller, with Ian Harte, Michael Bridges and Roussel going close.

The best of those early chances was the first - in the game's first minute - when Coventry keeper Hedman was forced to make a smart save from Harte's 25-yard free-kick.

Opening flurry

After the initial flurry of goal-scoring chances both defences started to look more comfortable, with Lucas Radebe and Michael Duberry looking particularly solid in the heart of the Leeds back four.

And despite the best efforts of Coventry's Moroccan duo Hadji and Chippo, the visitors looked the more dangerous going forward too.


In a lucky week you get four points; in an unlucky week you get one point. Both teams went at it hammer and tongs, but you get that in the opening days of the season. Everybody stuck to their job, and while I was obviously hoping we'd pick up three points I'm not unhappy with one
  Coventry City manager Gordon Strachan
Leeds' adventurous 4-3-3 formation appeared to be giving the home team some difficulties, with Bridges and Alan Smith at the middle of most of their best work.

Darren Huckerby, returning to his old stomping ground, saw a lot of the ball in the first half, but while his pace was clearly troubling the Coventry full-backs, his final ball was never precise enough to cause real problems.


Coventry: Hedman, Edworthy, Williams, Shaw, Chippo, Roussel, Hadji, Telfer (Eustace, 74 mins), Palmer, Bellamy (Zuniga, 66). Subs not used: Hall, Kirkland, Breen, Normann.

Leeds: Martyn, Kelly, Harte, Dacourt, Radebe, Bridges, Bowyer, Huckerby (Wilcox, 75), McPhail, Smith, Duberry. Subs not used: Robinson, Mills, Jones, Hay.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset)

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