Football: Young Boro in charge

Middlesbrough 2 Coventry City 0
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The Independent Online
IT TOOK only eight minutes for Gordon Strachan to pop out of his dug-out. There he remained, berating officials and players. As the red mist descended, the air around the Sky Blues' bench turned blue. Yet afterwards he was succinct: "The better team on the day won. I have always said that I like coaching and now I have the opportunity to get my teeth into it over the next seven days. There will be plenty to work on."

There was no talking on the pitch. Noel Whelan shinned a Steve Froggatt opening on two minutes and it took another 68 to get a shot on target. It was Whelan again, spurred on by his lame clearance from which Dean Gordon hit a spectacular 30-yarder. Then Whelan's header on 75 minutes was tipped over by Mark Schwarzer.

Without old-timers like Paul Gascoigne and Robbie Mustoe, the bright young things of Middlesbrough, Mark Summerbell and Robbie Stockdale, were given their chance in midfield. "With all the changes I was pleased with the defensive side of our performance and then Summerbell and Stockdale came on to a really good game in the second half," their manager, Bryan Robson, said. His only concern was a shoulder injury that might sideline Gianluca Festa for six weeks.

Stockdale, 18, had snuffed out Coventry's best attacker, Froggatt, and he hit a stream of crosses in from the right. Fittingly he had the last word, his exquisite pass from half-way floating in for Hamilton Ricard to hit his ninth League goal and really silence Strachan's men.

Goals: Gordon 66 (1-0), Ricard 83 (2-0).

Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Schwarzer; Cooper, Vickers, Festa (Maddison, 49); Stockdale, Townsend, Summerbell, Beck, Gordon; Ricard, Deane. Substitutes not used: Beresford (gk), Kinder, Blackmore, Baker.

Coventry (4-4-2): Hedman; Nilsson, Williams, Shaw, Edworthy; Telfer, Clement, McAllister (Boateng, 84), Froggatt; Whelan, Huckerby (Jackson, 70). Substitutes not used: Ogrizovic (gk), Soltvedt, Breen.

Referee: G Willard (Brighton).

Bookings: Middlesbrough Deane, Cooper; Coventry Williams, McAllister, Huckerby, Whelan.

Man of the match: Stockdale.

Attendance: 34,293.

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