Coleman forced to get ugly

Coventry City 0 West Bromwich Albion 0
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The Independent Online

There are exciting goalless draws, then there are stalemates like this that will work wonders for the Saturday afternoon trade in DIY stores. The toppling of West Bromwich Albion as Championship leaders, overdue following four defeats in their previous six matches, was finally carried out by an injury-hit, limited Coventry City side who smothered them with respect.

Maybe Coventry were mindful of the fact Albion had won on their previous visits to the stadium 4-0 and 5-0 in the Championship and FA Cup respectively in the 2007-08 season. This is a less fluent and out-of-form side who now have Cardiff City as well as Newcastle United looking down on them.

"The spine of our team was out and we had to play a certain way to try to nick something," said Coventry's manager Chris Coleman. "It wasn't pretty but it's a positive point."

Like Albion, the home side have won only once in seven matches since autumn's onset and are less able to withstand the bites that have been taken out of their team. Another chunk was removed after only 10 minutes here when their goalkeeper, Keiren Westwood, departed with a jarred back, although his replacement, Dimi Konstantopoulos, was arguably the game's best performer.

The substitute goalkeeper was routinely tested by Jerome Thomas and Graham Dorrans from opposite sides of the penalty area and should have been troubled by a twisting header that Jonas Olsson sent wastefully wide from Dorrans's corner.

There was a touch of the unorthodox about the Greek's other first-half contribution, his left shoulder doing the job his hands might have done in helping Thomas's low shot wide before the winger was harshly booked for diving when Martin Cranie appeared to catch him with a penalty-area challenge.

"It was a clear penalty," said Albion's manager Roberto Di Matteo. "I've seen it again and there was a touch."

The second half contrived to be more turgid than the first, with Coventry devoid of attacking threat, as underlined by the fact that their best effort, until Scott Carson took off sideways to clutch David Bell's dangerous cross, was an Isaac Osbourne 30-yarder that the goalkeeper watched fly wide.

Albion, painfully lacking creativity in the absence of Chris Brunt and physical presence with Roman Bednar also out injured, continued to make scant use of the control they had on the game.

The stretching Luke Moore failed to reach Filipe Teixeira's deflected shot and was in the dug-out by the time his replacement Chris Wood was played clear by Dorrans four minutes from time. The New Zealander's left-foot contact was clean enough but Konstantopoulos highlighted a fine first League appearance for the club since February, 2008, by blocking bravely.

Di Matteo did not see the less-than-friendly words Olsson appeared to exchange with several Albion fans at the final whistle and reverted to managerspeak.

"We created chances but didn't take them," he said. "The fans can see we tried to win the game and just missed the cutting edge."

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