West Ham blocked

Coventry City 2 Salako 7, Whelan 15 West Ham United 2 Cottee 2, Rieper 22 Attendance: 17,459
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The Independent Online
COVENTRY CITY are the fifth highest spenders in the Premiership, having paid out almost pounds 11m on new players this season on an average attendance of 18,000, and that after reportedly being pounds 9m in the red at the start. Either the directors are men of infinite resources and courage or, as rumour has it, Nick Leeson is joining the board.

But enough of dull figures: neither manager wanted merely one point, and both teams attacked with panache across a heavy pitch. Four goals came in the first 21 minutes, and on the gilt-edged chances offered, West Ham should have been leading 5-2 at the interval.

Of Coventry's latest expensive recruits, Liam Daish has settled into defence like an old soldier while Eoin Jess, quicker in thought than feet, should become a sharper asset for Scotland this summer. "You get punished for mistakes more quickly down here," he observed.

Coventry's reshaped defence was confused enough to allow Tony Cottee to head the first goal following a corner; Jess sent Noel Whelan down the left for John Salako, poaching on the blind side, to volley an equaliser; Daish cleared and Dion Dublin nodded on for Whelan to run in City's second.

Steve Ogrizovic, once again the crucial defender, tipped over Iain Dowie's header before, with Coventry again in disarray at a corner kick, Marc Rieper blasted another equaliser in under the far angle.

Towards half-time, West Ham threatened to run wild. First Ogrizovic blocked at Cottee's feet, threw himself the other way to foil Slaven Bilic, and balked Cottee once more. When Michael Hughes found the next one-on-one position he wisely decided to keep well clear of the giant's reach, shooting instead from 16 yards, but was just wide.

At half-time the tacticians got to work. Avenues were blocked, Coventry reinforced their midfield with Paul Williams, who hit a post and brought a fine save from Miklosko. No one dared to leave early, but we were all no wiser at the end and City supporters were still wondering where the money and the points are coming from.

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