Football: Quinn grasps initiative

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The Independent Online
Southampton. . .2

Coventry City. .2

IT does not take much to be Coventry City's top scorer. The last Sky Blue to manage 20 in the League was Ian Wallace in 1977- 78, since when it has been a sorry tale of Thompson 8, Gibson 11, Regis 10, Speedie 8. If his temporary employers locate the pounds 250,000 Newcastle are asking for him, Mick Quinn, who scored his fifth and sixth for Coventry in his fourth outing, will get to 20 by St Valentine's Day.

They are already in love with him at Highfield Road, though as a Portsmouth old boy he was roundly booed by the local fans. He answered them as only a natural goalscorer can. He brings more than a nose for the net to his colleagues' play, but they have yet to taste victory since his arrival.

Coventry's dismal strike rate was greatly improved yesterday by the unavailability of Kenneth Monkou, but Southampton's defence was no more profligate than their visitors', and 2-2 is not an accurate reflection of the chances each side charitably laid on for the other. Peter Ndlovu, whose dazzling skills ought to be harvesting more goals, had three goodish scoring chances that another day he might have accepted.

Southampton are now unbeaten in six games, quelling recent calls for the manager Ian Branfoot's dismissal. Had it not been for Iain Dowie's draw-sealing strike just after the hour there would have been little to cheer about. Matthew Le Tissier refused to glow, so this draw was built on the dourer virtues displayed by Neil Maddison, Terry Hurlock and Micky Adams in midfield.

Maddison popped up in the ninth minute to equalise when Steve Ogrizovic flapped at a corner, but goals either side by Quinn proved that Coventry started with the initiative. For his first he sailed up unmarked to meet Lee Hurst's swirling free-kick. For the second he pounced on the ricochet when Tim Flowers blocked a close-range shot from the Premier League's bluntest weapon, Robert Rosario.

There was a shower of chances for both sides in the second half, but Ndlovu and Quinn could only shave the post at one end, while Francis Benali and Maddison could get no closer at the other. When Dowie pounced on yet another botched clearance, justice was seen to be done in an encounter in which neither side managed to be better than the other.

Southampton: T Flowers; J Kenna, M Adams, T Hurlock, R Hall, S Wood, M Le Tissier, P Groves, I Dowie, N Maddison, F Benali. Subs not used: J Dodd, N Banger, I Andrews (gk). Manager: I Branfoot.

Coventry City: S Ogrizovic; B Borrows, P Babb, P Atherton, K Samson, P Ndlovu, L McGrath, L Hurst, R Rosario, M Quinn, K Gallacher. Subs not used: D Busst, J Williams, J Gould (gk). Manager: B Gould.

Referee: R Nixon (West Kirkby, Wirrall).

Goals: Quinn (0-1, 6 min); Maddison (1-1, 9 min); Quinn (1-2, 25 min), Dowie (2-2, 61 min).