Football: Dublin in Barnsley's bad books after `dive' drama
Coventry City 1 Barnsley 0
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Monday 23 February 1998
For the second match in succession, a crucial decision went against Danny Wilson's side at Highfield Road. It will be no consolation to them that television replays show that Dion Dublin's extravagant dying swan routine on Saturday was as clear-cut a non-penalty as the infamous tackle at Old Trafford last week was a watertight case for an award.
It is one of the penalties of Coventry's precarious position that the borderline rulings go against you. If those verdicts had gone the way they should, Barnsley would be in the sixth round of the Cup and would have a precious extra point in their Premiership survival cache. Time for another early day motion from their local MPs, perhaps.
Sympathy for Barnsley should be tempered, however, by the fact that they never had a serious attempt on goal during this match and, had Coventry been anywhere close to their best, the result would have been decided long before Dublin's 89th-minute spot kick.
Wilson had to field a patched-up side and the best that could be said was that they put up stubborn resistance. Not that Coventry were much better for the most part; Gordon Strachan - again admonished for his vocal contribution from the touchline - has seen them perform far more convincingly during what is now a club record winning sequence of six matches.
Darren Huckerby provided the only break in the tedium of the first half, with a typical run and shot, and he, Viorel Moldovan and George Boateng all went close to resolving the deadlock before Alan Wilkie settled it.
But there was little of their recent fluency in Coventry's display and the combination of Huckerby and Moldovan was part of the problem. Although Huckerby's occasional spark of enterprise was enough to make him stand out, his blend with Coventry's record signing does not have that "made in heaven" aura that surrounds his link with Dublin - the two strikers are too similar in style.
It was predictable that City's breakthrough should only come after Dublin was moved into the attack - even if his contribution might look, on forensic analysis, like one of his less distinguished moments of the season.
Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Nilsson, Dublin, Breen, Burrows; Telfer, Boateng, Soltvedt (Gavin Strachan, 75), Whelan; Moldovan (Hall, 67), Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Johansen, Haworth, Ogrizovic (gk).
Barnsley (4-4-2): Watson; Eaden, Moses, Markstedt, Jones; Bullock (Marcelle, 78), Redfearn, Bosancic, Sheridan (Hristov, 89); Ward, Fjortoft (Hendrie, 69). Substitutes not used: Appleby, Tinkler.
Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).
Bookings: Barnsley Bosancic, Markstedt.
Man of the match: Huckerby.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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