Ndlovu keeps Coventry hope alive

Wimbledon 0 Coventry City 2 Ndlovu 52, 89 Attendance: 15,540
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The Independent Online
Coventry's manager Ron Atkinson was right - it will go to the last game of the season. Despite their brave win here yesterday, Coventry ended up only marginally better off in terms of goal difference than their rivals in relegation, Southampton and Manchester City. But the Sky Blues will take enormous heart from getting the points - through two Peter Ndlovu goals - in difficult circumstances.

For although the term "full strength" hardly applies to a defence that has conceded 60 Premiership goals, Coventry were dangerously depleted at the back yesterday both in names and in numbers. The absence through suspension of Liam Daish and Brian Borrows, allied to the injuries to David Busst, David Rennie and Paul Williams, obliged Coventry to field their captain and centre-forward, Dion Dublin in the heart of their defence, alongside Richard Shaw, who had to wear a mask because of a facial injury.

That Coventry were able to control most of the play owed much not just to the determination of this makeshift defence, but also to the man who was often their lone forward, Noel Whelan, who kept the Wimbledon defence at full stretch.

Both Coventry's formation and tactics were plainly predicated on the necessity of not conceding a goal, while springing Ndlovu and John Salako forward to support Whelan on the break.

And though Wimbledon fashioned a couple of half-chances Coventry, once by way of Kenny Cunningham's misplaced back pass, once thanks to Ndlovu's plunging header against the post, had the edge by half-time but no goals to show for it.

Perhaps in deference to their large travelling support, Coventry were instantly more adventurous in the second half, and within minutes they were in front after a calm passing move that switched the ball from the left wing across the face of Wimbledon's box and out to Ally Pickering on the right.

His cross was turned home at the near post by Ndlovu, prompting the first of three large-scale but good-natured invasions of the pitch by the Coventry hordes. Wimbledon increased their efforts and began to create chances for what would have been a fateful equaliser. A Dean Holdsworth header was scrambled away, while Andy Clarke wastefully lobbed Dublin's short back pass over the bar, and Steve Ogrizovic soared splendidly to turn away Vinny Jones's thumping shot.

Coventry clung on, but with minutes to go Ndlovu raced on to Eoin Jess's long ball and curled a shot past Neil Sullivan. With four clubs now jostling on the precipice, it may come down to goal difference next Sunday.