In a season when their wishes have been worn away by the steady drip of disappointment, Man- chester City realised one ambition last night. They hoped for a Manchester derby against United in the FA Cup fifth round and they have got it: on Sunday at Old Trafford.
Ron Atkinson, the Coventry manager, had said there would be a hair's breadth between the sides and he was correct. Coventry tore at the home team in the closing stages and but for a dreadful miss by Dion Dublin would have taken this replay into extra time.
Instead goals from Nigel Clough and Niall Quinn proved just enough, Dublin's reply five minutes from time - scooping the ball in after his header had hit the bar - proving too late to properly amend for his lapse moments earlier. Thin differences are frequently the foundations of Cup glory.
It was a game that turned on the opening quarter. Ball, fearful of the Dion Dublin-Noel Whelan partnership, withdrew Garry Flitcroft to the sweeper's position and almost lost the tie. While the home team adjusted, Coventry had the run of midfield and their failure to profit from their opening proved decisive.
Michael Brown and Steve Lomas whistled sighters just past the posts to signal the end of Mancunian disarray and after 29 minutes they took the lead. Nicky Summerbee took a corner on the right, Quinn headed powerfully towards goal and Clough turned and pivoted to hook the ball past Steve Ogrizovic.
Quinn made it 2-0, 25 seconds into the second half when he exploited Coventry's failure to dispossess his team-mate, Uwe Rosler, 20 yards out. Given the freedom of the area he dummied to shoot towards the far post and chipped into the near corner.
That should have been that but Maine Road is not unused to farce and Dublin would have had home nerves rattling if he had shot with anything like accuracy when Whelan found him unmarked six yards out after 80 minutes. Instead he fired the ball high over the bar.
A former Manchester United player, Maine Road gave Dublin fearful derision. Practice, the City supporters hope, for Sunday.
Manchester City (1-4-3-2): Immel; Flitcroft; Summerbee, Symons, Curle (Creaney, 78), Brown; Lomas, Kinkladze, Clough; Quinn, Rosler. Substitutes not used: Beech, Margetson (gk).
Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Pickering, Busst, Shaw, Burrows; Strachan, Telfer (Lamptey, 55), Richardson, Salako; Dublin, Whelan. Substitutes not used: Boland, Filan (gk).
Referee: K Cooper (Pontypridd).Reuse content