Coventry waste Dublin's glorious moment

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The Independent Online
JOHN PERLMAN

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Coventry City 1

Dion Dublin did not want to talk - two chances missed just after the break had turned the sweet taste of a quite glorious goal to sawdust. While Coventry's resolve was perhaps weakened by his failure to extend the lead, the game was ultimately lost because the players behind him never looked capable of protecting what they already had.

"We were creating chances all the time," said Ruel Fox, who clearly enjoys playing Coventry: he has scored three of his six League goals this season against them. Many of those chances came from a stream of corners forced by a Spurs team that only hit full stride once in front. "They were always a threat on corners but to an extent I thought we dealt with that," Ron Atkinson said.

Not to any great extent. The first man to every ball swung in was invariably wearing white. And, inevitably, it was more corner-induced commotion that enabled Teddy Sheringham to head in a close-range equaliser.

Coventry's away goals against average is more than two, but just before the break it seemed as if the last line at least might hold all day, as Steve Ogrizovic brilliantly kept out Chris Armstrong's fierce shot. It recalled the veteran's role in other great rearguards over 12 seasons at the club. "I have been in some relegation battles and survived them all," he said.

While history might record them as glorious, he says, the immediate reality is rather grim: "People who have gone down say it's the worse thing that can happen to you."

Coventry did not play as if they feared the worst, and the build-up to Dublin's goal reflected the best of their attacking play: Peter Ndlovu's running; Noel Whelan's darts and drifts into space; Kevin Richardson's floated passes beyond the full-backs.

The pass that fell for Dublin to volley was stroked not lashed, but it flew into the net. Goal of the month for March, perhaps, but Dublin would trade that for the two less spectacular finishes that Fox found to put Spurs ahead, and then out of reach.

Recent fixtures have given Fox a look at three of the bottom four. How did Coventry rate? "They've got a lot of quality players, but it's about gelling players together which takes time," he said. "That is something they are starting to run out of."

Atkinson said his team had played "reasonably well" and added that he did not really have anything new to add to his team talks in the crucial month ahead. "I'd like to be able to say well done lads", he said.

At least they had "two nice easy ones next week to sort it all out," Atkinson said. Liverpool and Manchester United await.

Goals: Dublin (21) 0-1; Sheringham (51) 1-1; Fox (52) 2-1; Fox (65) 3-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Walker; Austin, Nethercott, Campbell, Wilson; Fox, Dozzell, Howells, Sinton; Sheringham; Armstrong. Substitues not used: Edinburgh, Rosenthal, Thorstvedt (gk).

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Borrows, Shaw, Daish, Burrows (Salako, 90); Jess (Strachan, 66), Williams, Richardson, Ndlovu; Whelan, Dublin. Substitutes not used: Filan (gk).

Referee: R A Hart (Durham)

Bookings: Tottenham: Nethercott, Austin.

Man of the match: Fox.

Attendance: 26,808.

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