Coventry City 2 Leicester City 0: Hughes injury mars Best possible start for Coleman's Coventry

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The Independent Football

Chris Coleman probably could not have asked for a trickier game to begin his tenure as Coventry's latest manager, yet having won this local derby he wouldn't have had it any other way.

And that was despite it getting off to the worst possible start, losing his midfielder Stephen Hughes after barely 60 seconds' play. Having overcome the shock of seeing the former Everton and Arsenal player taken off on a stretcher after the ball was accidentally kicked into his face at close range by his team-mate Marcus Hall, Coleman's new squad composed themselves. The manager said later that Hughes, who was treated on the pitch for five minutes while motionless before going to hospital, had "only" concussion.

Yet the Welshman, who is Coventry's fifth manager in little over four years, eventually saw his side's fortunes change. They couldn't claim they were the superior team for more than brief spells but thanks to a penalty and a goal by Leon Best 12 minutes from time, they leapfrogged their Midlands rivals and moved a little further away from the relegation zone.

"I'm delighted with this win," said Coleman, "but I'm feeling relief more than celebration. I'm going to enjoy it tonight. It was gutsy and we wanted the ball. The work ethic was fantastic."

Understandably, the serious-looking nature of Hughes' situation took the sting out of a match that had barely started. It took a strange and generous penalty decision to inject a little more piquancy into proceedings.

When Best broke into the penalty area he shot over Ben Alnwick's bar but the referee noticed a push by Gareth McAuley. With 32 minutes elapsed, Elliott Ward took responsibility and his penalty squeezed under Alnwick's body.

Ian Holloway, the Leicester manager, was enraged. "This game was ruined by one of the maddest decisions I've ever seen," he said. "I've seen it four times and I thought my player was nudged. I asked the referee and he thought he was right. Huge decisions are swinging against us."

Leicester tried to play their way to parity through some occasionally adept possession but never found the width to get around the Coventry defence, and going through the middle merely meant congestion. They have seen plenty of the ball in recent games but cannot fashion enough chances. Andy Marshall, the Coventry goalkeeper, had only one save to make, an Iain Hume shot from 25 yards, but by then the game almost over.

The hosts doubled their advantage after sitting ever deeper, something Coleman was not enjoying from the touchline. However, daring to go forward, Kevin Thornton, who had come on for Hughes, slipped a short pass to Best. The tall striker had just seen one shot saved at the near post by Alnwick, but this time, from the other side of the penalty area, he found the far corner.

The visitors have not won away from home now in three months, something Holloway realised needs to be addressed as they remain close to the bottom three. Coventry, Holloway warned, "are not out of the woods either", but a week after losing 5-0 at home, there is some light peeking through those trees.

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