Just one week after scoring his first senior goal in English football, the striker Manel was shown the first red card of his Derby career as the Rams lost 2-0 to Coventry. The Spaniard netted the equaliser as his side came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1 seven days ago, but was sent off at Highfield Road for an off-the-ball assault on the Coventry defender Peter Clarke.
Iain Williamson, the referee, had no hesitation in dismissing Manel, although by then Coventry were already two goals ahead, Gary McSheffrey and Julian Joachim having scored before half-time.
"Manel says he didn't touch the boy so now I'm going to look at the video and if there's a case we will appeal. But if Manel has caught him then he deserved to be sent off," Derby's manager, George Burley, said afterwards.
The visitors made the early running, with Coventry's goalkeeper, Scott Shearer, called into action as early as the fourth minute after his opposite number, Lee Grant, launched an attack. Manel collected the Rams goalkeeper's clearance and did well to work the ball through for Noel Whelan to shoot, but Shearer saved splendidly.
The Sky Blues took the lead against the run of play after Martin Grainger floated a left-channel free-kick to the back post. Calum Davenport nodded down, and Stephen Warnock, who saw his initial shot spectacularly saved by Grant, retrieved possession and found McSheffrey who scored from point-blank range.
The Rams responded quickly, and within two minutes of conceding, their winger Marco Reich cut into the Coventry box and collided with Eric Deloumeaux. Williamson had previously booked the Frenchman for a scything tackle on the German but this time Reich was booked for diving. "I thought it might have been a penalty," said Coventry's manager Eric Black. "I really held my breath on that one but I was 60 or 70 yards from it and the referee was 10 so he's got the better view and he's made the right call from our point of view."
The indignant Rams were to fall further behind in the 33rd minute when they were again undone from a set-piece play, this time with Michael Doyle flighting a right-wing corner which Warnock headed down and Joachim hooked home from close range. But as half-time approached, Bjarni Gudjonsson rescued the Sky Blues as he cleared Manel's header off the line following Reich's left-wing corner.
In the second half, after the sending off, Shearer did more than earn his corn, saving first a free-kick and then a rasping drive from Osman. At the other end, Grant spared further Derby blushes when frustrating Doyle, who had burst clear on goal, and the Sky Blues were denied more goals thanks to a combination of wayward finishing and kitchen-sink defending from the 10 men.
"It was a really hard graft for us but sometimes when you're not playing well and you're not passing it well - and the pitch was not the best - you have to have a certain attitude to win the game," said Black.
Coventry City 2 Derby County 0
McSheffrey 20, Joachim 33
Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 16,042Reuse content