Football: Coventry perform escape act once again

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Coventry City 2

Perhaps Brian Mahwinney should have contacted Coventry City when he tried to plot the Conservatives' escape from the abyss. Not that Geoffrey Robinson, Labour MP for Coventry North-west and one of the prime backers behind City's recent spending, would have given away many secrets.

Not that there is a secret, beyond team spirit when it matters, a steady nerve, and so much good fortune it borders on the supernatural. Yesterday was the 10th time in their 30-season tenure that Coventry have survived relegation from the top flight on the last day of the season. For the seventh time they needed other teams to lose as well getting a result themselves.

Incredibly all the necessary results occurred. But, as so often with Coventry, there was a twist. Traffic problems on the M25 and M1 meant the game kicked off 15 minutes late evoking memories of the notorious escape of 1977 when Coventry and Bristol City started late and ended playing out a draw after hearing that Sunderland had lost.

This was not quite the same situation. Coventry had to win regardless of other results. It did mean, however, that when the other games finished with 14 minutes still left at White Hart Lane, they knew victory would definitely keep them up.

Coventry were 2-1 up at that stage. Dion Dublin, playing in attack, rose unchallenged to glance in Gary McAllister's cross in the game's first significant action after 12 minutes. Then, after two bouts of pushing and shoving - six players were booked in the first 24 minutes - Paul Williams volleyed a second from McAllister's corner.

Two-up after 38 minutes, Coventry's first requirement, a win for themselves, seemed safe. Then Teddy Sheringham's 43rd-minute free-kick hit the post and Paul McVeigh followed up to score his first goal for Spurs.

The nerves began to bite then and the last 14 minutes were fantastically tense. The travelling Coventry support had made the situation clear, but it did not seem to help for Coventry retreated deeper and deeper in an effort to hold on to their lead. Tottenham, struggling to gain something from a disappointing season, attacked incessantly: no one was going to be able to say they had let the Sky Blues off lightly.

Within seconds of the final whistles at Elland Road and Selhurst Park, Steve Ogrizovic denied Jason Dozzell. He went on to save from Ruel Fox before making two exceptional saves in a minute from Dozzell and Neale Fenn. Darren Huckerby, with a little more composure, could have settled the matter from a couple of breaks, but it went to 90 minutes and beyond before Martin Bodenham whistled their survival.

Coventry's fans, who had dusted off the "City are staying up" banners, erupted with joy. This may be a near-annual event but there seems no danger of their becoming blase about survival. "In a way the players are disappointed at being so excited at just being in the league," Strachan said. "They said 'we have won nothing' but they have won something. They have won their pride back. They can look people in the eye again.

"I enjoyed watching the players enjoy themselves celebrating with each other. At the end you feel nothing for yourself, you feel for the players and the fans and everyone associated with the club. You think of the players and managers who kept the club going on a shoestring budget. Everything they had done would have been wasted if we had gone down.

"Throughout the game I was calm until the last 10 minutes, then the boys got edgy. I'm not being big-headed but it's smashing that they have won without me on the pitch. I have played with world-class players and the players today showed as much heart as any of the top players I have played with. And some of the football they played was superb. That was brave too, a different type of bravery to putting your head in where it hurts."

Coventry, having spent pounds 20m in the last two years, must now hope that investment is rewarded next season. "The first 10 games decide how you do for the season," said Strachan. "We have had relegation battles since November and this is the biggest one. We can't go through that again." City fans may have heard that before.

Goals: Dublin (12) 0-1; Williams (38) 0-2; McVeigh (43) 1-2.

Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Bardsen; Vega, Scales, Campbell; Carr, Fox, Dozzell, Sinton (Clapham, 22), Edinburgh; McVeigh (Fenn, 73), Sheringham. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Brady, Arber.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Telfer, Shaw, Williams, Burrows; Whelan (Jess, 33), McAllister, Richardson, Ndlovu; Huckerby, Dublin. Substitutes not used: Filan (gk), Eustace, Breen, Strachan.

Referee: M Bodenham (Cornwall). Booked: Tottenham: Edinburgh, Sheringham. Coventry: Burrows, Richardson, Williams, Whelan.

Man of the match: Ogrizovic. Attendance: 33,029.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker