Football: Yorke's quick strike breaks Villa's duck: Coventry frustrated

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The Independent Online
Coventry City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Aston Villa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

DWIGHT YORKE, watched by his friend and compatriot Brian Lara, broke Aston Villa's duck last night when his early goal settled a little local difficulty at Highfield Road. Coventry, however, are still not off the mark and, disturbingly for a club with debts of pounds 4m, only 12,218 witnessed their third successive defeat.

John Fashanu had said he expected an atmosphere similar to a Merseyside or Manchester derby. Instead, there were thousands of empty seats, although those Villa supporters who stumped up pounds 17 for a pew in the visitors' enclosure had an instant dividend on their investment. Less than three minutes had elapsed when Yorke headed in Andy Townsend's cross.

Attacking the 'Phil Babb Stand', as some Coventry sceptics have dubbed their new end in anticipation of the captain's departure, the home side's response betrayed a lack of confidence. Steve Morgan was an exception; having sent one long-range drive inches over the bar just before Yorke's goal, the left-back soon unleashed another which the Villa goalkeeper, Mark Bosnich, scrambled behind.

While Babb's international partner, Paul McGrath, was the busier of the two Republic of Ireland defenders, Coventry's better efforts continued to come from outside the penalty area. David Rennie sent another narrowly wide, though a second Yorke 'goal', disallowed for offside after 18 minutes, demonstrated Villa's capacity to strike on the break.

Villa continued to look unsure how best to exploit Fashanu's gladiatorial attributes. Rising to flick on a long kick by Bosnich shortly after the interval, he must have thought he was back at Wimbledon, and only a last-ditch challenge by David Busst prevented Dean Saunders scoring a real route one goal.

A wild challenge by Morgan on Earl Barrett, which earned a yellow card after 52 minutes, was an indication of Coventry's mounting frustration. The biggest danger to Bosnich appeared to be his own lack of concentration. Once, after a period of inactivity, he fumbled a harmless through-pass, only to gather the loose ball before Sean Flynn could react.

Babb's desire to lend his height to a lightweight attack inevitably left gaps, one of which Saunders exploited before firing over.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Borrows, Busst, Babb, Morgan; Boland, Rennie (J Williams, 66), Darby, Cook; Flynn, Wegerle. Substitutes not used: Pickering, Gould (gk).

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Bosnich; Barrett, McGrath, Ehiogu, King; Yorke, Richardson, Townsend, Staunton; Saunders, Fashanu. Substitutes not used: Parker, Lamptey, Spink (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Poole).