COVENTRY CITY 0-1 CREWE ALEXANDRA BY KEV MONKS
Coventry City were shunted in the sidings by the Railwaymen thanks to a dubious penalty.
Coming in a week where there had been much furore regarding threatened legal action and the proposed bid to take over the club by Mr Dhinsa who is expected to reveal all on Tuesday, it was hard to forget that there was a match going on as Crewe's train arrived at Coventry station.
With talks of corners being turned,Peter Reid was forced into making one change from the team that had won at Wolves last weekend, with Steve Staunton replacing Stuart Giddings who was poleaxed by an over zealous tackle by Florent Laville in training on Friday.
Staunton was booed by a small section of a Sky Blues support boosted by City supporters who had travelled from Italy,Denmark, Northern Ireland and Wales whilst there were huge cheers for Dele Adebola.
Dario Gradi gave his side the signal to get forward and within the first six minutes, City, with Richard Shaw looking as cool and confident as ever,caught the visitors attack offside on three occasions.
In the sixth minute, a cross from Andy Morrell on the right was nodded down by Gary McSheffrey for Clayton Ince in the Crewe goal to gather.
The ball was banged straight down the field where the visitors won the first corner of the game. This came to nothing as did a City corner two minutes later.
State Staunton was managing to press forward when ever possible and in the ninth minute, he delivered a good cross which Adebola just missed and Steve Foster headed out for a corner.
Michael Doyle's flag kick found Stephen Hughes on the edge of the area. The City skipper hit a good shot which rebounded off Foster and gave City their third corner.
This time,Eddy Johnson met the ball but could only direct a right footed shot wide of the goal.
Another corner followed in the 13th minute when Dele Adebola did well to chase and knock the ball back for Gary McSheffrey to run onto and shoot only for a defender to get his body in the way and for Doyle to head over to the Clock stand to take the resulting kick.
Another two minutes were played before Staunton crossed once more, the ball was half cleared and Louis Carey blasted well wide
The first and only caution of the game came in the 17th minute when Steve Foster got in the way of Dele Adebola as the former Crewe striker raced through. Adebola had got past Foster only to go to ground a few paces later and referee Mr Paul Taylor decided with no advantage to book Foster for the challenge.
Coventry corner number five came two minutes after the caution and as Carey banged the ball back in after Doyle's kick had been half cleared,Andy Morrell tired his luck with an over head kick but could only play the ball into the path of Adebola who fired wide from six yards.
The one outfield player for the visitors who looked rather useful in my opinion was the number eleven David Vaughan. He sent a twenty yarder just over in the 22nd minute and two minutes later when down as Adie Williams came in to challenge him.
There was no appeal by any Crewe player or from their 400+ supporters but Mr Taylor pointed to the penalty spot. Williams protested his innocence but it was to no avail and Dean Ashton stepped up to take the resulting penalty and give the visitors a lead they did not deserve.
Fury and anger gushed out of the stands as City fans made very clear their feelings that on this occasion the referee's decision of deliberate obstruction
Despite Reid's attacking formation, City were having the play but were not seriously threatening the goal.
Ince easily gathered a Doyle effort in the 27th minute and five minutes later punched a Staunton cross out for a throw.
After a 34th minute Coventry corner, more spleen was vented at the pedantic match official who gave a very harsh free kick on the edge of the penalty area,after adjudging that Richard Shaw pulled the shirt of Rivers.
Kenny Lunt sent the ball straight over the far post where David Vaughan fired in from close range, not spotting that the assistant's flag had been raised and City were off the hook.
As we approached the final five minutes of the first half, a shot on the turn from Adebola was saved and cleared up the other end for a corner.
Both sides earned a further corner apiece and in the final minute,Gary McSheffrey wasted a great chance when he found himself through on goal after good work from Doyle and Johnson. The Coventry kid only had Ince to beat but pulled his shot wide from ten yards.
At half-time, the biggest cheers of the day were reserved as Ernie Hunt in Cov to plug his new book, Willie Carr and one of my all time heroes Bill Glazier were introduced to the 12,832 crowd.
City went at the visitors from the start winning a corner less than thirty seconds following the recommencement of play.
A minute later, the lively McSheffrey was impeded on the edge of the area. He took the kick which was parried by Ince as far as Morrell who stabbed the ball wide from eight yards.
Eddy Johnson then wasted another good chance before City won two more corners.
In a rare attack from the visitors thanks to some poor passing from the Sky Blues, Adie Williams failed to properly clear and the ball dropped down to the totally unmarked Mark Rivers. Unbelievably with the goal at his mercy,the summer signing from Norwich blasted the ball high into the West Stand from seven yards.
Adebola,McSheffrey and Morrell all kept Ince active before Williams headed wide from a 66th minute corner.
Two minutes later, Adie Williams became the first City player this season to boot a ball out of the ground when he sent a clearance high over the roof of the Main Stand.
Despite the lack of goals,this was entertaining stuff as two more City corners followed and a lovely cut inside and shot from McSheffrey was superbly pushed over the bar by Ince for a corner.
There had been calls for Patrick Suffo for a good few minutes before the Cameroonian replaced Andy Morrell in the 75th minute, just before a City corner which again came to nothing.
Crewe were employing back to the wall defending as City continued to press. Adebola went wide from a Williams 76th minute hoof upfield and then Ince was on hand to catch as McSheffrey tried to chip the ball into the net.
City were enjoying all the pressure but in
the 81st minute, they really should have been two goals behind when a cross from the right by Jon Otsemobor found Vaughan some twelve yards out. The Welsh international hit a left footed shot which bounced off Steele's right hand post and was cleared away.
Dario "Mr Crewe" Gradi made a switch with six minutes left as Steve Jones came on for Mark Rivers.
With the Crewe defence in tatters,Patrick Suffo who netted for the reserves in their last two matches, jinked his way through as Ince lay on the floor. Suffo being Suffo decided to shoot despite a narrow angle and his effort went rather disappointingly into the side netting.
With chants of "1-0 To The Referee" echoing round a just over half full Highfield Road on a not too unpleasant day, City kept up the pressure with Adebola sending the ball on to the roof of the net before a superb diving save from Ince to a close range Williams header gave City their sixteenth corner of the game.
Ince thoroughly deserved his man of the match nomination when he superbly tipped over an 88th minute Stephen Hughes rocket from 25 yards.
With the game now in stoppage time. Patrick Suffo was cursing his look as Ince again got down to push away a free kick for guess what another corner.
Luke Steele who has joined City on loan for the rest of the season, came up to assist the attack and almost got a touch when Doyle's kick was cleared for the 19th Sky Blue flag kick.
Despite the pressure of Steele up front, Crewe held on to record their second consecutive victory over a battling City side.
HT CCFC 0-1 CAFC FT CCFC 0-1 CAFC
GOAL - Dean Ashton (24 pen)
Booked Steve Foster
Man Of The Match - Clayton Ince was the best player on the pitch. The voting for City's best player was a four way tie between Richard Shaw,Dele Adebola,Gary McSheffrey and Louis Carey.
Steele,Carey,Staunton,Shaw,Williams,Hughes, Doyle,McSheffrey,Morrell (Suffo 75),Adebola, Johnson SNU Shearer,Jorgensen,Deloumeaux, Laville.