The side in sky blue looked much different from the one which teetered on the edge of disaster last season . Clearly, Ron Atkinson can still turn out a slick team, even on a tight budget.
Time was that the Atkinson cheque book would be the market leader in summer spending sprees but there are fewer noughts at his disposal now. This year's close-season outlay would not have paid for half of Stan Collymore. But the former big spender has used Coventry's modest funds wisely, especially in midfield, where the addition of Paul Telfer, from Luton, John Salako, from Crystal Palace, and the bargain Brazilian Isaias to the reliable talents of Kevin Richardson has created a unit of no small potential. Their ability to work openings for Dion Dublin and Peter Ndlovu gave Forest as busy an afternoon's defending as they will experience this year and ought to have won the match.
That it did not was down to two things, namely Coventry's failure to make more than one of their goal chances count, and the awful moment midway through the first half which gifted Forest an equaliser. At the time, Coventry were a goal to the good, courtesy of Dublin's 10th-minute header, when the tall striker outjumped Colin Cooper 15 yards out and found the goalkeeper Mark Crossley six yards off the line.
As Atkinson rightly observed afterwards, Coventry were soon completely in charge. But then Paul Williams, otherwise solid in central defence, allowed a Brian Borrows pass to be intercepted by Bryan Roy, presenting the Dutchman with the chance to shoot home to the left of the goalkeeper John Filan.
Coventry hit back threateningly and gave Crossley a string of opportunities to atone for his error, the goalkeeper denying Ndlovu twice, Telfer and Isaias before half-time, and keeping out further attempts by Dublin (twice) and Telfer in the second period.
Forest introduced Andrea Silenzi in place of an ineffective and injury- troubled Kevin Campbell for the last 38 minutes but looked no more likely to come out in front. Indeed, Clark conceded: "We did not play well enough to deserve to win."Reuse content