Football: Keane compounds Gregory's misery

Coventry City 2 Aston Villa 1

ROBBIE KEANE, the striking prodigy for whom John Gregory would not stump up an extra pounds 1m, intensified the pressure on the embattled Aston Villa manager last night by settling a hard-fought Midlands derby with his seventh goal in 12 appearances for Coventry.

"The script and the headlines were both written this morning," a rueful Gregory said afterwards. "But I don't have any regrets about the decision I made about Keane. Without doubt he has done well for Coventry, but I prefer to reserve my judgement until he's had a whole season."

Gregory, who has spent pounds 35m on players during his rollercoaster 20-month reign, was not prepared to go beyond pounds 5m for the 19-year-old Dubliner. Gordon Strachan did meet Wolves' pounds 6m asking price and Keane has inspired his new club to a surge up the Premiership table - they are now top of the bottom half - while Villa are drifting in the opposite direction.

By stopping Villa's run of six successive victories at Highfield Road, Coventry extended their own unbeaten sequence to seven games. Gregory's task is to halt an identical run without a win, which now stretches more than two months. Malicious whispers say that the axe wielded so often in the past by "Deadly" Doug Ellis, the Villa chairman, may fall again before he has a chance to do so, and the home crowd crowed: "You're getting sacked in the morning" in the final minutes.

While Coventry undoubtedly deserved their success, Gregory could reasonably point to the disproportionate amount of bad luck Villa suffered. They had a cast-iron claim for a penalty rejected after only six minutes, and, as if to rub in the discomfort for the Sky Blues' illustrious neighbours, Keane was clearly offside when he capped a virtuoso display with his 65th- minute winner.

Gregory's job security was by no means the only sub-plot adding spice to the occasion. There is no love lost between Ellis and Coventry's chairman, Bryan Richardson, the antipathy stemming from the defection of Dion Dublin and George Boateng to Villa and being further fuelled by their mutual interest in Keane.

Unsurprisingly, given such a background, the atmosphere was highly charged. Villa, whose followers had taken up only half the club's allocation of 4,000 tickets, twice came close to silencing their detractors in the opening minutes, their first opportunity directly involving both targets of the Coventry supporters' "Judas" taunts.

Boateng began the attack with a sweeping pass wide to Mark Delaney. Dublin met his centre with a sharp downward header which reared up off the turf and flashed over the bar. Almost immediately, Paul Telfer's back-pass was seized on by Julian Joachim, whose tumble under Paul Williams' illegal challenge left the referee, Graham Barber, strangely unmoved.

None of the Villa contingent seemed up for any reciprocal booing of Keane, perhaps because their hearts were in their mouths whenever he was on the ball. After only eight minutes, he took Youssef Chippo's pass and jigged past Delaney on the byline before crossing. A glancing header gave Cedric Roussel his first goal since arriving on loan from Ghent.

David James' full-length save kept out Moustapha Hadji's 25-yard drive as Coventry dominated the first half, while an even better, if less dramatic, block by the Villa keeper turned Keane's shot on to a post. Alan Wright cleared, and the upturn in the visitors' fortunes continued in the 41st minute when Dublin rose unchallenged to head in Steve Stone's corner.

For a time, Villa no longer resembled an embarrassment waiting to happen, their challenges becoming fierce where they had earlier been tentative. Lee Hendrie had been the only player cautioned in the first half, and for dissent at that. Yet a spate of heavy fouls after the interval led to the referee adding the names of Villa's Ian Taylor and Boateng either side of a yellow card for Paul Telfer.

Boateng's offence was to cut Keane down in full flight, but Coventry's new cult hero did not have to wait long for the sweetest revenge. Chippo, feeding the ball in from the left, saw Keane steer his pass deftly past James. Keane was offside, but the fact that this escaped the notice of the officials summed up both his and Villa's fortunes right now.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Telfer, Breen, Williams, Hall; Hadji, Palmer, McAllister, Chippo (Burrows, 89); Keane, Roussel (Whelan, 88). Substitutes not used: Konjic, Eustace, Ogrizovic (gk).

Aston Villa (4-4-2): James; Delaney (Watson, 75), Calderwood, Southgate, Wright; Stone, Boateng, Taylor, Hendrie; Joachim (Vassell, 75), Dublin. Substitutes not used: Merson, Carbone, Enckleman (gk).

Referee: G Barber (Tring).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

Implementation Engineer

£150 - £200 per day: Orgtel: Implementation Engineer Hampshire / London (Gre...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Pharmacuetical

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Real Staffing, one of the UK'...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform