Football: Froggatt fails to shine

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Bradford City 1 Coventry City 1

AS GORDON STRACHAN emphasised, for Steve Froggatt it had been a difficult week. First there was Kevin Keegan's unexpected telephone call, then the incessant attention of reporters. On top of that, his wife is about to deliver their second child. Now they were asking him to play football as well.

As it happens, he might just as well have had a sick note. Not once did he supply a telling cross, at least not in the class of Peter Beagrie, the hardy perennial on Bradford's left, who came on as substitute late in the first half and immediately set up his side's equaliser.

In the event, the most impressive player was one for whom international cares are a thing of the past. Gary McAllister, who wears for Coventry the captain's armband he used to don for Scotland, last March vowed never to wear the blue Scottish shirt again after being mercilessly booed during a qualifying tie against the Czech Republic at Celtic Park. To some, it seemed, his penalty miss against England in Euro 96 was never to be forgiven.

As fervently keen as any Scot to put one over the English, Strachan must surely regret his player's abdication of duty. On the other hand, he admits that the national side's loss has been Coventry's considerable gain. "The problem with Gary was that I was sending away a player who was all right but he was coming back a man who we had to build up again mentally," Strachan said.

"But he now has that in-built mental strength again and I think he is playing as well as he has done for us, perhaps as well as in his last year at Leeds." McAllister claimed his seventh goal of the season inside the first minute, after a surging run from midfield and a slick interchange with Robbie Keane.

After such a start, Coventry, without an away win in the Premiership since April, should have broken that pattern. But while Bradford were rewarded with a Lee Mills goal during their brief spell on top, Coventry failed to capitalise on a wealth of chances, and had to be content with stretching their unbeaten run to seven games.

Goals: McAllister (1) 0-1; Mills (43) 1-1.

Bradford City (4-3-3): Clarke; Halle (Lawrence, 59), Wetherall, O'Brien, Sharpe; Redfearn, McCall, Windass; Saunders (Beagrie, 40), Mills, Blake (Rankin, 83). Substitutes not used: Walsh (gk), Dreyer.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Telfer, Shaw, Williams, Hall; Chippo, McAllister, Palmer, Froggatt; Keane, Hadji. Substitutes not used: Ogrizovic (gk), Burrows, Breen, Eustace, Roussel.

Referee: B Knight (Orpington).

Bookings: Bradford: Redfearn, Halle, Lawrence. Coventry: Froggatt.

Man of the match: McAllister.

Attendance: 17,587.