Coventry's Highfield Road pitch survived yesterday's torrential rain where others nearby did not but for 89 minutes of uninspired stalemate it was debatable as to whether the ground staff's efforts were worth it.
Albion may have wished the game had been postponed. They are due in for extra training today after manager Gary Megson accused them of playing "self-indulgent football" before Coventry's substitute, Johnnie Jackson, snatched a last-gasp winner against the First Division leaders.
"Some of the players don't like it but that's the way I work," Megson said. "If we win they get a day off but we have been careless and thrown away an opportunity."
The home crowd looked sure to suffer the frustration of a ninth draw in 12 matches before 21-year-old Jackson intervened. The on-loan Tottenham midfield player had been on the field only three minutes when he swept home the decisive goal, dashing Albion's hopes of keeping second-placed Norwich out of range.
Instead, Coventry enjoyed a second win from two games since assistant manager Eric Black took temporary charge. Black is standing in for player-manager Gary McAllister, who has been allowed indefinite compassionate leave to care for his sick wife.
"Johnnie is a good player who we would like to keep at the club," Black said. "He did well against Burnley last week and was disappointed not to start this game but when he did come on his attitude was exactly right." Which was more than Megson could say about his own team.
"There were two or three out there who were playing self-indulgent football," he said. "I warned them at half-time it could either finish three or four-nil to us or one-nil to them, so it is difficult to stomach this result." Albion had most of the best chances but could not make them count, even with £1m new signing Geoff Horsfield adding extra weight up front.
The former Birmingham man is back in the West Midlands after leaving Wigan, with whom he had spent only five months.
Rob Hulse had the earliest opportunities yesterday, the second of which should have resulted in an 11th-minute goal when the impressive Paul Robinson's cross offered a free header. Horsfield's first chance came after 28 minutes with a shot from close range but goalkeeper Gavin Ward was quickly on him to make a good block. Ward needed to save at full stretch from Hulse just before half-time, Coventry's passing football was neat and intricate but though they enjoyed plenty of possession they did not do much with it until just before half-time when Julian Joachim, wheeling away into space just outside the six-yard box, saw a goal-bound shot deflected wide by Hoult's right foot.
It came as a surprise, then, that it should be they who broke the stalemate. Jackson had been on the field only three minutes when he collected a pass from Patrick Suffo and curled a right-foot shot that perhaps took a deflection off a defender, looping over Hoult and under the bar to gain Coventry only their second win since the end of October.
Coventry City 1 West Bromwich Albion 0
Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 17,616
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