Football: Coventry's bored and anti-board: Fans demonstrate at Highfield Road as players show little class

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The Independent Online
Coventry City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

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THE side-show of protests against the Coventry board and Bobby Gould's provocative presence as a television pundit overshadowed the main attraction of an impoverished Premiership match at Highfield Road yesterday. For that, Sky and the 10,429 spectators were doubtless grateful.

Injury-hit Sheffield United were happy enough with a third consecutive away draw, although they have not won since 24 August. Coventry, under the caretaker managership of Phil Neal following Gould's abrupt exit, last took full points a week later, but the evidence here was of low morale among players and supporters alike.

When the referee put everyone out of their misery, hundreds of Coventry fans poured on to the pitch to chant 'Sack the board' and call for Gould's return. The demonstrations had begun as early as the 10th minute, when half a dozen youths clambered on to the roof of the executive boxes holding up a banner bearing similar sentiments.

Gould later told those viewers who had not switched off that he was prepared to meet the chairman, Bryan Richardson, 'anywhere, anytime' in order to defuse the tension. Richardson insisted there was 'nothing to talk about - Bob left of his own volition', but Neal said he would welcome such a development, claiming he felt 'like Red Adair'.

The game never caught fire. Peter Ndlovu, whose projected transfer caused Gould to resign, was betrayed by poor touch when sent clear early on. His subdued performance cannot have impressed the watching assistant manager of Arsenal, Stewart Houston. Mick Quinn also spurned a chance in the 41st minute.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Borrows, Rennie, Babb, Morgan; Flynn, Boland, McGrath, Ndlovu; Quinn, Wegerle (J Williams, 72). Substitutes not used: Darby, Gould (gk).

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Tracey; Bradshaw, Tuttle, Hoyland, Whitehouse; Ward, Rogers, Hartfield, Hodges; Falconer (Cork, 75), Littlejohn. Substitutes not used: Beesley, Kelly (gk).

Referee: A Gunn (South Chailey, Sussex).

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