Delorge revives Coventry with one-touch delivery

Sheffield United 0 Coventry City 1
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The Independent Football

There is clearly something to be said for putting a Swede in charge and having followed England's example, Coventry have yielded immediate dividends. After steering his side to a place in the third round of the Worthington Cup a day after replacing Gordon Strachan last week, Roland Nilsson ­ a former Sheffield Wednesday player ­ left United's home with his first League points.

Coventry deserved them, too, their goal creating a second happy story after Laurent Delorge, a young Belgian who broke his leg on his first appearance in a sky blue shirt three years ago, finally made it to the first team and scored with his first touch.

The 22-year-old, for whom Strachan paid £1.2 million in 1998 but lost his enthusiasm some time subsequently, replaced the injured Julian Joachim with 18 minutes left and found himself in the right place immediately when a collision between United goalkeeper Simon Tracey and the Coventry midfielder Lee Carsley left the ball running loose in his path, to be guided into an unguarded net.

It was Delorge's first senior appearance in a League match and his first goal. After his move from Gent, his ill-starred beginning came in a reserve game. "I don't think he and Gordon [Strachan] saw eye to eye," Nilsson said. "But I have told the players that whatever happened in the past is gone and that I'm giving everyone a chance."

Having earned a considerable reputation as a Coventry player before he left in 1999, it had been the lure of a coaching role that tempted Nilsson to return to Highfield Road in the summer, although he hardly expected his elevation to manager to come quite so soon. Sympathy remains for Strachan, who was shown the door before the replacements he had chosen had even played together. Time may yet prove Lee Hughes and Julian Joachim to be the most potent front two in the First Division yet after a pre-season injury held back the former Aston Villa forward Joachim the two were unable to work in tandem until last week's Worthington Cup victory over Peterborough, the day after Strachan made his exit.

It took a fine save from Tracey to keep out an angled effort by Hughes late in the opening half. Tracey was busy, saving also from Ivan Guerrero and Joachim as Coventry created dangerous chances, their Moroccan midfielder Youssef Safri catching the eye.

United rarely threatened until Magnus Hedman stopped an effort from Michael Brown with his feet near the end. Manager Neil Warnock hinted darkly that all is not well behind the scenes at Bramall Lane, although he refused to elaborate.

Highfield Road is a happier place, although the possible ligament injury to Joachim ­ replaced by Delorge after a clash with Tracey that brought Coventry claims for a penalty ­ and a knock suffered by Nilsson himself, who went off after half an hour, cast a shadow.

Sheffield United 0 Coventry City 1

Delorge 72

Attendance: 16,168