Football: Sure-fire Sinton

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The Independent Online
Coventry City 1

Whelon 60

Tottenham Hotspur 2

Sheringham 27, Sinton 75

Attendance: 19,675

Tottenham, faced with the makings of a crisis after three consecutive defeats, deserved the win that will at least temporarily appease their critics. But, in an open contest in which they could never impose a convincing grip, their relegation- threatened opponents did not look markedly inferior.

Gerry Francis, naturally, believes that time will disarm the pessimists in his midst and that patience will be rewarded when he creates a team of substance. Yesterday, he added a new component in the shape of Steffen Iversen, a long-sought quarry whose contribution increased the manager's satisfaction at taking three points, even though the tall Norwegian had little to do, directly, with their winning.

Iversen, who had met his team-mates only 24 hours earlier, played as though he will need a little time to settle, but there was evidence, so far as Francis was concerned, that he will wear Jurgen Klinsmann's old No 18 shirt with distinction. He was involved, at least, in setting up the decisive goal for Andy Sinton.

That moment, 15 minutes from the end, exposed Coventry's defensive shortcomings for the second time in the match, undoing a game fight back after Noel Whelan had equalised.

On the first occasion, after a corner had been half-cleared, their defenders advanced in a line with an eye on the assistant referee's flag. But their timing was poor and when Steven Carr headed the ball back into the penalty area, Teddy Sheringham was unattended and on- side, the England striker hooking a shot past Steve Ogrizovic.

Inspired by their veteran goalkeeper, Coventry rolled their sleeves up, which made the result all the more galling for Gordon Strachan. Perhaps Coventry were fortunate when Sheringham had a second goal ruled out for a technical offside, where the question of interference went against Tottenham. But their determination was worthy of the equaliser that Whelan slid home after Ian Walker had parried a Dion Dublin header.

But these efforts were wasted, ultimately. Committed to seeking a winner, they were exposed by a Tottenham breakaway. Sheringham fed Iversen, the Norwegian squared to Nielsen, and though Coventry's cover was flooding back, Sinton did not waste his opportunity.