Football: Beckford too much for Gould

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The Independent Online
Norwich City. . .1

Coventry City . .0

FIVE games had passed without a win or a goal, and Norwich were beginning to ask themselves whether it had all been a dream: Canaries flying with the eagles. But last night in the intensity of the FA Cup they rose sufficiently to achieve a fourth-round tie with Tottenham and upset Coventry's manager, Bobby Gould, so much that he was evicted from the bench to the stand seats.

Curiously, the initial signs suggested that Gould, in spite of his strange gamble with a weak midfield, might have ended the night on his feet with joy. Mick Quinn and Robert Rosario left John Polston with ruddy cheeks that had little to do with the chill, gale- force wind. Polston was frequently wrong-footed and could thank Bryan Gunn for his alertness in making fine saves from Quinn.

Gould had decided that he could risk having only two players regularly in midfield, with Peter Ndlovu back-tracking to help out. It worked well enough for a time. Whenever Ndlovu took possession there was a broad hint of danger, yet the same could be said of Ruel Fox, who eventually became the greater influence on the outcome. His speed and tight, close control are always reliable but usually seen to better advantage when allied to an out-and-out striker. Here, however, he was prepared to go alone and did so effectively.

An agile twist in mid-air by Steve Ogrizovic to turn away a curling free-kick from Ian Crook frustrated the best chance of the first half but as the game wore on Coventry struggled in midfield, where John Williams was without direction. The result was that two minutes into the second half, and on a pitch slopping with surface water, Norwich ended their goal drought. Lloyd McGrath had made a weak clearance and David Phillips headed back. Darren Beckford, a late inclusion in the Norwich team, slammed the loose ball in from two yards.

From then on Gould became more and more agitated and in his own words had a 'conversation' with the linesman, who 'was having a bad game and I told him so'. The referee, Keith Hackett, intervened, sending Gould down the tunnel and back to the grandstand.

If Polston's evening was not one he personally would want to remember, at least he could claim the tackle of the match when he intercepted Kevin Gallacher just outside the penalty area to ensure that Coventry's frustration continued to the end. Norwich could feel a little happier that they can meet the same opponents again on Saturday in the League and perhaps face the next few weeks still without Mark Robins but with their confidence a shade improved.

Norwich City: Gunn; Culverhouse, Bowen, Butterworth, Polston, Megson (Goss, 24), Crook, Beckford, Sutton, Fox, Phillips. Substitute not used: Sutch.

Coventry City: Ogrizovic; Borrows, Babb, Atherton, Pearce, Ndlovu, McGrath, Williams, Rosario, Quinn (Gynn, 74) Gallacher. Substitute not used: Busst.

Referee: K Hackett (Sheffield).

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