Roussel's header ends jinx

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The Independent Online

Craig Bellamy repaid Coventry the first instalment of his £6.5m transfer fee last night, converting a first-half penalty, as his side won their first away game in the Premiership for more than 16 months. Cedric Roussel secured the three points for the Sky Blues after Southampton had equalised through Jo Tessem.

Craig Bellamy repaid Coventry the first instalment of his £6.5m transfer fee last night, converting a first-half penalty, as his side won their first away game in the Premiership for more than 16 months. Cedric Roussel secured the three points for the Sky Blues after Southampton had equalised through Jo Tessem.

The result was especially sweet for Coventry's manager, Gordon Strachan, whose side had not won on the road since beating Sheffield Wednesday in April 1999. "At the final whistle I was happy, and then relieved," Strachan said. "And then I thought: 'What have we been doing for the last year?' But I've been in this situation before."

The last team to have gone a whole season without an away win in the Premiership, before Coventry last year, were Leeds United, in 1992-93. That side contained Strachan, and the venue where they eventually ended their jinx, in September 1993, was The Dell. Asked if the win would increase his side's confidence, Strachan said: "It'll help, that's for sure. We've got a 100 per cent record away from home this season."

Last night's match heralded the start of the final season of football at The Dell, with a new ground due to be open next summer. Many more performances like this and this season could be Southampton's last in the top flight for a while as well.

The game's first chance fell to Coventry when Paul Williams found space from a corner to feed a neat pass to Bellamy, who had time, but not adequate space, for a shot. His angled drive was beaten down by Paul Jones in the Southampton goal but he did not have to wait long to open his account. After 19 minutes, he was adjudged to have been impeded in the box by Tahar El Khalej and was awarded a penalty. He sent Jones the wrong way.

The Saints came out fighting after the break, enlivened by the burly Tessem, who had come on in place of Chris Marsden. After 51 minutes, the Norwegian stepped past two defenders and curled a sweet left-footed shot past Magnus Hedman. Parity lasted all of 10 minutes. Against a wave of Southampton attacks, Coventry launched a rare counter and won a corner. Roussel rose unmarked to score.

Southampton (4-3-3): Jones; Dodd, Lundekvam, El Khalej, Bridge; Draper, Marsden (Tessem, h-t), Oakley; Davies (Pahars, 24), Rösler, Kachloul (Beattie, 82). Substitutes not used: Monk, Moss (gk).

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Edworthy, Williams, Shaw, Hall; Telfer, Eustace, Palmer, Chippo; Bellamy (Zuñiga, 84) Roussel. Substitutes not used: Kirkland (gk), Quinn, Hendry, Normann.

Referee: P Taylor (Cheshunt).

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