Football: Villa stall as Quinn excels

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The Independent Online
Coventry City. . 3

Aston Villa. . . 0

JUST when Aston Villa were beginning to believe in their own publicity, and the leaders, Norwich City, were coming into view, the sight of the championship receded again yesterday when Coventry's bargain buy, Mick Quinn, walked all over them with two more goals making his remarkable tally 10 in six games.

Not that Villa gave any early inkling that they were to fade into the Midland mist in a game that was slow to ignite and finished with some explosively critical comments by Ron Atkinson. By the end, Coventry could point to the fact that the manager's son, Jonathan Gould, gave his father a Christmas to remember simply because he had no call to make an important save throughout. Atkinson summed up his team's peformance by saying: 'We were useless in defence, useless in midfield and crap up front. If we go on like that we can forget the championship. We were second in all departments. It was the worst performance I've seen from my lot since I arrived.'

Villa always knew that yesterday their main obstacle to continued progress in pursuit of the title was going to be Coventry's in-form pounds 250,000 buy from Newcastle. Now 30, Quinn is not short of a pound or two in girth and uses it effectively in fending off his markers. Here Paul McGrath and Shaun Teale tried to pick him up on a zonal basis, but Quinn treated them with dismissive indifference.

The height and weight advantages of Quinn and Robert Rosario should have brought Coventry earlier success. In the first 45 minutes there was no lack of position for them in the Villa penalty area, but this was a match that for a long time seemed destined to remain full of opportunities without finish.

Bobby Gould had decided not to alter the team who beat Liverpool 5-1, which meant a bench place for Peter Ndlovu, who had been on World Cup duty with Zimbabwe in Egypt and would not have appreciated 90 minutes on a frosty pitch. Much as his creativity was missed, Coventry have a confident squad that has even overcome the lengthy absence of their best playmaker, Stewart Robson.

It took an age for either side to make a significant impact. There was no hint that Coventry would stroll away with the game. Admittedly Villa's attack, again without Dalian Atkinson, looked under- strength from the start. Cyrille Regis had been injured and was lacking in pace and that stopped Villa employing their usual quick counter-attacking game. Regis failed to reach Garry Parker's cross after 14 minutes, suggesting it was not going to be his day, neither was it Villa's.

Quinn's first goal was his best as he curled a volley from Rosario's flick-on from a nice short ball by Lee Hurst. That shook Villa's defence and they never regained confidence. After 55 minutes Quinn sidefooted in, again from Rosario, and on the hour he held challengers at bay to offer Rosario the chance to add the third.

Coventry City: J Gould; B Borrows, P Babb, P Atherton, K Sansom, J Williams, L McGrath, L Hurst, R Rosario, M Quinn (A Pearce, 89 min), K Gallacher (P Ndlovu, 83 min). Sub not used: S Ogrizovic (gk). Manager: B Gould.

Aston Villa: N Spink; E Barrett, S Staunton, S Teale, P McGrath, K Richardson, R Houghton, G Parker (N Cox, 84 min), D Saunders, C Regis (S Beinlich, 65 min), B Small. Sub not used: M Bosnich (gk). Manager: R Atkinson.

Referee: R Dilkes (Mossley).

Goals: Quinn (1-0, 53 min), Quinn (2-0, 55 min), Rosario (3-0, 60 min).

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