Roberto Di Matteo, the West Bromwich Albion manager, acknowledged his side had cleared "one more hurdle" but insisted nothing was yet resolved in the Championship promotion race after a tense victory at The Hawthorns last night.
Edgy Albion secured the victory which restored their eight-point advantage over the chasing pack, but with only seven games remaining Di Matteo saw little to convince him that his decision this week to discourage promotion talk was a hasty one. "It's one more hurdle that we have passed. Nothing has been achieved yet, but we are pleased with the three points," the Italian said.
"It was a bit of a scrappy game, we defended our goal dearly. Maybe we could have kept the ball better in the second-half, but Coventry had nothing to lose and threw everything at us."
An injury to influential midfielder Chris Brunt, who limped off after an hour, may persuade the Albion manager to strengthen his squad with a loan signing this week. Having dominated the first-half and swept into a 22nd-minute lead courtesy of a goal from the on-loan Steven Reid, Albion suffered the jitters. Coventry were unfortunate not to snatch a point with the last kick of the game when, five minutes into injury time, substitute Clinton Morrison hit a post.
Albion's goal arrived when Brunt's corner was initially missed by Abdoulaye Méité, and Reid, the Blackburn midfielder playing his fourth game on loan, appeared at the far post to sweep home his first goal since netting for Rovers against Chelsea in 2006.
Coventry, a limited threat in the first half, almost levelled on 62 minutes when Jon Stead was a whisker away from turning in Sammy Clingan's free-kick. The home side creaked at the seams in the final twenty minutes and Richard Wood almost slid in an equaliser before Morrison hit the post from one yard out at the death.
The Coventry manager Chris Coleman was optimistic in defeat. "The play-offs look difficult for us now, but there are still a lot of points to play for," he said.
West Bromwich Albion (4-5-1): Carson; Reid, Meite, Tamas, Mattock; Brunt (Barnes, 61), Dorrans, Mulumbu, Watson, Koren (Thomas, 85); Miller (Moore, 70). Substitutes not used: Kiely, Zuiverloon, Morrison, Cox.
Coventry (4-5-1): Westwood; Wright (Hussey, 80), McPake, Wood, Cranie; Bell (Sears, 66), Deegan, Clingan, Baker, Eastwood; Stead (Morrison, 76). Substitutes not used: Konstantopoulos, Hall, Gunnarsson, Barnett.
Referee: C Webster (Tyne & Wear)Reuse content