Football: Blue skies are here again for Coventry
BY JON CULLEY Derby County 0 Coventry City 0 Attendance: 32,450
Sunday 09 May 1999
Both found themselves entering the last lap of the season in familiar circumstances, Coventry driven by the lingering fear of relegation, mid- table Derby by nothing much at all. "If we can finish with more points than last season , it will have been a good year," Derby's manager, Jim Smith, had said, desperate to give the fixture meaning.
With one match to go, Derby cannot now achieve that target. But Coventry, perennial brink-men, can at least be sure of their place in the Premiership next season, their 32nd consecutively in the top flight, having secured the point they needed to be absolutely safe.
Derby, with Paulo Wanchope linking midfield with attack, had the most chances to go ahead in a scrappy first half, of which the one that fell to Mikkel Beck after 35 minutes was the most glaring. Darryl Powell crossed from the left and Wanchope cleverly directed a cushioned header to Beck's feet. But the Dane, with one goal in six matches since his move from Middlesbrough, cleared the crossbar by some distance.
Then again Coventry, while not so threatening, might have scored when Gary McAllister urged Darren Huckerby to take a corner quickly and floated an instant cross to the far post. Noel Whelan, reading his captain's thoughts, failed only by a nose to make contact.
Derby, missing top-scorer Deon Burton among six absentees, made two changes before the hour in the hope of finding an edge, replacing Stefano Eranio with the 17-year-old Adam Murray, their young player of the year, and sending on Francesco Baiano in place of Beck, with Wanchope reverting to his striker role.
Perversely, Coventry now enjoyed their best spell, pushing Derby on to the back foot and finding more space in midfield. Even so, a goal seemed a remote prospect.
Murray, making his home debut, looked at ease with the occasion and almost made a name for himself with 20 minutes left, his first-time shot just inside the Coventry box producing a superb save from Magnus Hedman.
Moments later his heart must have been in his mouth when Marc Edworthy tumbled under his challenge in the other penalty area, but referee Paul Alcock took his side and booked the Coventry man for diving.
Sturridge and Horacio Carbonari had late chances to tilt the scales Derby's way. But this contest always seemed destined to be a goalless draw.
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on Monday but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo could miss Manchester United's crucial Champions League play-off due to Copa America run
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Nick Kyrgios fans show their support by smearing Vegemite and Nutella on their faces amid Wimbledon run
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...