Football: Nicol puts blame on `bodies in the box'

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday 0 Coventry City 0

Steve Nicol had no doubt where the blame lay for this dull spectacle, remarking that it was almost impossible to create a goalscoring opportunity "when you've got 18 bodies in the box".

Coventry had come to Hillsborough for a point and got it, he said. And though it extended Wednesday's run to one defeat in 17 league and cup matches, that was little consolation.

The Owls dominated possession for most of the contest and will feel they should have taken all three points against Gordon Strachan's side. Wednesday, however, lacked an individual with the brilliance to break the deadlock.

Nicol took a different view. "You could put any team out there but if you are playing against a blanket defence it's almost impossible," he said. "You can't get behind them as there are so many men behind the ball and you end up with 22 players in one half, throwing balls into the box and looking for scraps. It's hard."

One of the chief reasons why Wednesday were so frustrated was because of a superb performance by Coventry's defensive pair, Paul Williams and their new signing, Gary Breen.

Breen, playing his first Premiership match after his midweek move from Birmingham, made a mistake early on to allow Andy Booth a chance. But after that lapse he did not put a foot wrong, moving Steve Ogrizovic, the veteran Coventry keeper, to remark: "That was one of the best debuts I have seen for a long time. He's got pace and composure, and showed why the manager bought him."

Sheffield Wednesday: Pressman; Atherton, Nolan, Stefanovic, Walker, Hyde, Nicol, Pembridge, Whittingham (Blinker, 71), Hirst (Trustfull, 81), Booth. Substitutes not used: Collins, Humphreys, Clarke (gk).

Coventry City: Ogrizovic; Shaw, Breen, Williams, Hall, Richardson, McAllister, Telfer, Jess, Whelan (Ndlovu 81), Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Borrows, Boland, Strachan, Filan (gk).

Referee: M J Bodenham (East Looe, Cornwall). Bookings: Wednesday Trustfull.

Man of the match: Nolan. Attendance: 21,793.