Coventry City 1 Middlesbrough 1: No relief for McClaren as McSheffrey runs show

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Few of Steve McClaren's intensely uncomfortable mid-season days have been as trying as this. Much quicker than it took the manager to sign a new contract, Middlesbrough's name might have been added to the FA Cup's slain giants list.

Coventry stirred the Ricoh Arena's record attendance with industry the Premiership side were unable to match and in Gary McSheffrey had a player worthy of being on the winning side. But Boro survived.

"I'm pleased we're still in the draw and look forward to the replay," McClaren said. "We've ground out a result. That's the thing to take from the game."

Middlesbrough are without a Premiership victory since 20 November and were unimpressive on their last visit to these parts when securing a second bite against Nuneaton. Fresher still in the memory was their humiliation at Arsenal. Coventry promised much in extending their unbeaten home run to eight games, although, Stern John's excellent equaliser apart, their finishing was ordinary.

Three times late on McSheffrey crossed dangerously but the closest they came to a winner was when Jamie Scowcroft stabbed over from five yards and the substitute, Claus Jorgensen, lifted a 20-yarder too high.

Coventry had been caught cold within a minute of the re-start when Marcus Hall's clearance struck Richard Duffy under pressure from Yakubu, and the unmarked Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink finished clinically.

A response soon came, McSheffrey exposing Boro's limp defending by crossing high from the byline. Don Hutchison headed back into the area and John turned to hook home from 12 yards. "I think I enjoyed it more than Steve," said their manager, Micky Adams. "We adopted a style they didn't like and nearly pulled off a shock."