Dublin a calming influence: Football

Coventry City 0 Leicester City 0 Attendance: 19,220
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Coventry City have been in the top division for 31 consecutive seasons. By comparison Leicester City seem to have been up and down more often than a lamp-lighter in a lighthouse. Neither is clear of the rocks but the typical effort that Leicester put in to eke out a point at Highfield Road yesterday sent Coventry even more dangerously close.

No one better expresses the uncertainty and fickleness of the Premiership this season than Leicester. One minute heading straight back down to the First Division, the next battling on two cup fronts, and yesterday starting out spurred by a midweek beating of Aston Villa that left them sitting in the relative safety of ninth place. But safety has rarely been so elusive.

So in any other season this would probably have been one of those mid- table, mid-season matches that neither threaten nor encourage either side. Not that the quality of football suggested anything more than the untidy product of teams dependent more on spirit than judgement. Most of it fell into the midfield grinding machine, although Coventry should have cut their teeth as early as the first minute when the ever encouraging Gary McAllister threaded a forward pass to Darren Huckerby who allowed himself to be blocked by Kasey Keller. That was to become a trend.

Huckerby's unusual hesitancy was something for which he tried desperately hard to recompense, several times running powerfully through the whole Leicester defence and keeping Keller alert. Keller, though, is now one of the Premiership's most proficient goalkeepers.

Coventry's obvious priority was to control the formidable strength and speed of Emile Heskey, but though Gary Breen appeared to make a good job of doing that, in part the reason was that Heskey was not totally fit. And he also suffered several thundering first-half tackles that subdued his acceleration. By the second half he was barely jogging and was soon substituted by Scott Taylor who immediately missed the chance of the day, drifting a shot wide of the far post with Steve Ogrizovic already as good as beaten.

Some additional pace from Jamie Lawrence, who took on Heskey's striking role, certainly gave Leicester a new dimension but Taylor did them no favours, again spurning a fine chance by heading wide an almost perfect centre by Steve Guppy. Coventry's attempt to raise their tempo by bringing on John Salako rebounded embarrassingly when he had to abandon the game after only 25 minutes on the field. He was clearly not ready for a return after missing 10 games.

Obviously Leicester were happier with a shared game than the more greatly troubled Coventry, but their positive attitude over the final quarter of an hour did them a lot of credit. Indeed, had it not been for Dion Dublin's supremely calm chesting of the ball away to concede nothing worse than a corner from Taylor's driven, late cross-shot, Leicester would have notched their fourth successive win.

Comments