Football: Outraged Gould on warpath

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The Independent Online
Norwich City . . .1

Coventry City. . .1

A DRAW was enough to return Norwich City to the top of the Premier League, for 24 hours at least, but the bookies will not be rushing to slash their odds. The Canaries should have swept aside an ordinary Coventry City team in the first half but scored only once through Chris Sutton and were pegged back after the break.

Mick Quinn finally forced the breakthrough with his 11th goal in 10 games midway through the second half to bring Coventry a deserved point from an occasionally eventful match. But the real drama unfolded after the final whistle when Bobby Gould, the Coventry manager, strode into the pressroom.

Gould had been asked to move to a directors' box following an argument with a linesman in Coventry's FA Cup defeat at Carrow Road in mid-week and he had another spat with officialdom in East Anglia yesterday. The cause was Allan Gunn's 54th minute decision to award a penalty to the visitors instead of allowing a Quinn 'goal' to stand after Bryan Gunn, the Norwich keeper, had brought down John Williams in the box and the ball had bounced free to Quinn.

Coventry's players were celebrating Quinn's strike when the Sussex referee called play back after spotting the linesman's flag, which had jerked upright the moment Gunn challenged Williams. To add insult to injury Gunn saved Brian Borrows' spot kick and Quinn's follow- up shot rebounded off the bar.

'I told the referee in the tunnel afterwards his decision was 'criminal.' The goal should have stood,' Gould said. 'He wanted to discuss it with me, but I said: 'No you watch the video and then you read the report that I will send in.'

'Us managers have a problem with referees now because their mistakes affect our livelihood and that of the players. The referee can get into his car, go home and he's not responsible to anyone but it's our livelihood. Malcolm Allison said it on television recently about the mistakes referees are making. We must do something about it. The League Managers' Association, together with you, the Press, must act. Come on, you lot got Kinnock out.'

Gould had a further point. Why should Bryan Gunn stay on, having brought down Williams who was on a clear run to goal? 'The law states a referee has to send a keeper off,' Gould added. 'We didn't want Gunn off but it's the law.'

His Norwich counterpart, Mike Walker, half agreed. 'I suppose technically he should have been sent off but in general I don't think keepers should go off when they were genuinely going for the ball.' Which Gunn clearly was.

Gould was disappointed by one decision, Walker by the result and his side's lack of creativity near goal, but a draw, the second 1-1 result between them this term, was just. Walker's men began crisply and took the lead after only 13 minutes with one of their trademark moves, a stylish, fast-flowing foray springing from one flank.

David Phillips went down the left before clipping the ball forward to Ruel Fox, who teed up Sutton for a straight forward close-range finish. Sutton, who has helped fill the gap left by the indisposed Mark Robins and Lee Power, had two further opportunities to record his third league goal of the season but was wide with a pair of low shots just before the break.

Norwich resumed full of confidence with Sutton and Fox, twice, going close before the balance shifted Coventry's way after the contentious penalty incident which served to galvanise the visitors and, in the words of Gould, 'brought out our bulldog spirits'.

Suitably stung, Coventry went looking for the equaliser, which came in the 57th minute when Kevin Gallacher and the substitute Keith Rowland linked well down the left to set up Quinn, who made no mistake from close range.

A fair result, but Gould's emotional comments, however understandable, may land him in trouble with the Football Association.

Norwich City: B Gunn; I Culverhouse, M Bowen, I Butterworth, J Polston (C Woodthorpe 86 min), J Goss, I Crook (D Sutch 27 min), D Beckford, C Sutton, R Fox, D Phillips. Sub not used: M Walton (gk). Manager: M Walker.

Coventry City: S Ogrizovic; B Borrows, P Babb, P Atherton, D Busst, J Williams, C Greenman (K Rowland 47 min), M Gynn, R Rosario, M Quinn, K Gallacher. Subs not used: T Fleming, J Gould (gk). Manager: B Gould.

Referee: A Gunn (South Chailey, Sussex).

Goals: Sutton (1-0, 13 min); Quinn (1-1, 57 min).

(Photograph omitted)