Football: Froggatt fluffs chance to impress Keegan

Bradford City 1 Mills 43 Coventry City 1 McAllister 1 Half-time: 1-1 Attendance: 17,587
THE GENERAL surprise at Steve Froggatt's selection for the England squad may now extend to the man who picked him. Kevin Keegan, having invited the Coventry winger to prepare for national service in next week's Euro 2000 play-off against Scotland, went on a reconnaissance mission to Bradford only for his man to make little impact.

Indeed, Froggatt is more likely to earn a suspension than a place in England's starting line-up, having been booked for the fifth time this season. Coventry, who led inside the first minute but conceded an equaliser just before half-time, rained shots on the Bradford goal during a frantic second period, but were defied by a combination of bad luck and Matt Clarke's excellent goalkeeping as they stretched their unbeaten run to seven games.

Keegan was paying his second visit to Valley Parade in a fortnight, having travelled here last month to watch that other left-sided revelation, Steve Guppy. On that occasion, Guppy had a quiet match. At least when he arrived yesterday he found Froggatt's name on the team sheet, which has not always been the case this season. Youssef Chippo, returning from suspension, had threatened Froggatt's inclusion, but lined up instead on the right flank in place of the Belgian forward Cedric Roussel.

All eyes were thus on the former Aston Villa and Wolves man, including those of the Bradford defence if their marking was anything to go by as Coventry took the lead after 43 seconds. They were not looking where they should have in any event as Gary McAllister silenced the home crowd. Froggatt's only part in this was to make a decoy run as Robbie Keane headed towards the Bradford goal. McAllister, who had passed to Keane, drifted out to the right and when the young Irishman drove the ball across to him he was unmarked. Clarke was beaten easily.

Now Froggatt became more involved, stretching a Bradford back line already feeling collectively insecure. He made one low cross to the dangerous Keane, whose sharp shot was only parried to safety by Clarke. Froggatt then won a free-kick, pushing the ball ahead of Gunnar Halle but failing to find a way past the defender, who was punished for obstruction.

Keegan was seeing a different Bradford. Electric against Leicester, they were ordinary by comparison. Coventry, toughened in midfield now they have Carlton Palmer, were in charge, with McAllister pulling the strings. Paul Jewell had kept to his bold approach, playing three up front, but it wasn't working.

Then, equally bold, he changed things. Five minutes before half-time, off went Dean Saunders, on came Peter Beagerie. By the interval they were level, Lee Mills converting Beagerie's precise cross from the left that Palmer failed to cut out. The balance had shifted decisively and it could have been worse for Coventry, even though Moustapha Hadji was denied only by David Wetherall's superb block. Mills also hit the crossbar and Dean Windass, put in by Neil Redfearn, volleyed over the top when he should have scored.

In the meantime, Froggatt, lunging crudely at Bobby Blake, picked up a yellow card, his fifth of the season despite his limited appearances. Sinner became sinned against almost as soon as play resumed for the second half, Halle being shown the yellow card for his foul on Froggatt. The winger's influence on the match, however, continued to be largely peripheral.

Nonetheless, even though Bradford had enthusiastic support from the crowd, a goal seemed more likely to come from Coventry. Clarke pulled off two good saves, defying Chippo and then Palmer, and was relieved to see Hadji, three times, put the ball wide. Against those attempts, only Wetherall's header from a corner troubled Magnus Hedman.

Bradford by now had Jamie Lawrence, a more attacking player, on for Halle as Jewell continued to urge his players forward. But they had to hold their breath again when Keane, outpacing Wetherall, hit a post with an unexpected shot on the turn. Next, a linesman's flag came to their aid after Hadji had put the ball in the net, and then Clarke produced another fine stop to keep out Keane.