Football: Strachan lauds Wimbledon way

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon 2 Coventry City 2

You could think of any number of great figures in the game that Gordon Strachan would look up to as he embarks on his career in management. Alex Ferguson, for whom he played at Aberdeen and Manchester United, Howard Wilkinson, his manager in Leeds' championship-winning season, and Ron Atkinson, his predecessor at Coventry, all spring to mind.

After Saturday's match at Selhurst Park, his first Premiership game as Coventry manager, Strachan revealed a more unlikely subject of his admiration.

"I am a big fan of Wimbledon, a great admirer of how they go about their job, the application they show, their team spirit," he said. "Wimbledon's team spirit comes from winning games, scoring goals, then celebrating, then getting back on the team bus."

If Coventry are to climb away from the Premiership relegation zone they will need plenty of those qualities in the months ahead. The early indications are good. While Coventry never wanted for flair under Atkinson, their resilience was sometimes questionable, but against the Premiership's toughest battlers Strachan's team showed they have the stomach for a fight.

"I am very pleased," Strachan said after watching his side recover from a 2-0 deficit. "We gave them a two goal start, but matched them in team spirit, matched them in application, and eventually played some very good football."

Steve Ogrizovic, Coventry's veteran goalkeeper, kept his side in the game with a series of excellent saves in the first half until Robbie Earle put the home side ahead in injury time. When Marcus Gayle increased Wimbledon's advantage early in the second half things looked bleak for Coventry, but Noel Whelan's delightful chipped volley and Dion Dublin's scrambled equaliser earned Strachan's team a point.

Joe Kinnear, Wimbledon's manager, was disappointed that his side failed to make their earlier superiority pay, but stressed: "We are still 14 games unbeaten. We're still in the Coca-Cola Cup. I've got to pick the players up to go to Liverpool next week and hopefully make it 15 games unbeaten."

He also wished Coventry's new manager well: "Good luck to Strachs, he's got a difficult job with his players keeping them up. I've been through that myself, so I wish him good luck."

Goals: Earle (45) 1-0; Gayle (54) 2-0; Whelan (56) 2-1; Dublin (70) 2-2.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Cunningham, Perry, Blackwell, Kimble; Leonhardsen, Jones, Earle, Ardley (Fear, 73); Ekoku (Holdsworth, 85), Gayle. Substitutes not used: Reeves, Harford, Murphy.

Coventry (3-5-2): Ogrizovic; Williams, Shaw, Daish; Burrows, Jess, McAllister, Ndlovu, Salako; Whelan, Dublin. Substiutes not used: Richardson, Filan, Isaias, Borrows, Boland.

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe).

Bookings: Wimbledon: Blackwell, Fear.

Man of the match: Ogrizovic.

Attendance: 10,307.

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