COVENTRY CITY 2-1 WEST HAM UNITED BY KEV MONKS
Super City overcame West Ham United with a convincing performance at Highfield Road on a night tinged with sadness due to the impending departure of Calum Davenport.
Thankfully I had my chance to say good bye to Calum who signed a pre-transfer agreement with Tottenham Hotspur at 3pm this afternoon after a fee of £1.1m rising to £3m had been agreed ,as I made my way to the City Supporters Club for my usual pre-game drink and natter.
When I returned to the ground, Davenport who will be loaned to West Ham on arrival at Spurs, was in a City shirt for the last time and leading the team out as captain for the night.
There was only one change from the team that had stuffed Nottingham Forest with Neil Wood replacing Graham Barrett and City were straight on the attack, forcing a corner with only 26 seconds on the clock.
Backed by 2,800 supporters, West Ham had their first chance in the fifth minute when a poor kick out by Scott Shearer landed at the feet of Teddy Sheringham. The Millwall reject whom Peter Reid had tried unsuccessfully to sign in the summer,attempted to chip from 25 yards but hit a weak effort that Shearer caught.
West Ham attacked again in the 11th minute when Sergei Rebrov found Adam Newland who delivered a ball for Nigel Reo-Coker at the far post. The former Wimbledon player cut in and but could only scoop the ball into the waiting arms of the City keeper.
In the 12th minute,Newland conceded a free kick. The kick was not good but eventually found Michael Doyle who crossed. Up rose Calum Davenport and nodded the ball into the West End goal.
The place went wild and even the tannoy announcer gave City the goal but as we were cheering what would have been a fitting tribute from the City central defender, Hammers keeper Stephen Bywater was steadying himself to take a goal kick as the goal had been ruled out.
Nobody knew why but it later transpired that referee Mr Webster felt that Davenport had jumped into an opponent as he rose to head the ball in.
Davenport was having a storming game and made a superb 16th minute tackle to stop Sheringham from getting in a shot.
City broke from this and the industrious Stephen Hughes set up Michael Doyle who hit a lowish shot which Bywater dived to catch.
Eddy Johnson was clearly thriving on having his name chanted and in the 21st minute,a lovely run by the Manchester United loanee saw him send over a cross which Rufus Brevett did well to head away.
A minute later, Nigel Reo Coker was the first name in Mr Webster's book when he was cautioned for shoving Tim Sherwood in an off the ball incident. Sheringham decided to give the match official a lecture and the ball was moved forwards ten yards.
Staunton's ball found Neil Wood who crossed for Davenport to knock down for Andy Morrell to hit a shot from eight yards which Bywater saved.
The Hammers keeper who played against City Youth in that notorious FA Youth Cup Final was in action seconds later,kicking away a Johnson ball.
Mr Webster was not the all seeing eye that the game needed and in the 26th minute, he had to listen to his assistant on the Sky Blue stand side who spotted that Andy Morrell had been shoved. A free kick was awarded but came to nothing.
Six minutes later, a huge cheer went up as a cat raced down the track in front of the Sky Blue stand and disappeared out of the ground. Quick as a flash,Steve who stands (sorry sits) in the West Terrace in front of me came out with the stat that when it happened in the 1980's,we beat Southampton with a goal from Steve Whitton.
Just as we were mulling over whether the same effect would happen in this game, City nearly took the lead when Steve Staunton won the ball off a combination of keeper and defender and crossed. Andy Morrell got to the ball and nodded the ball goalwards. However the Hammers had a defender in the form of Thomas Repka on the line and he headed it away.
In the 37th minute,Louis Carey went into the book for what was given as a late tackle on Matthew Etherington. However, from where I saw the incident,it looked like Carey had played the ball then the man.
A West Ham corner was cleared with ease by Davenport. However, it was lost in midfield, Steve Staunton allowed Reo-Coker to get round him and centre for Teddy Sheringham who tapped in to give the Hammers a 40th minute lead.
City did not really deserve to be a goal down in what was an entertaining affair and just before the interval, some good work by Stephen Hughes saw him find Staunton who had his cross cleared and then pick out Tim Sherwood who passed to Eddy Johnson who turned and fired at Bywater.
With three minutes added on by Mr Webster, Rufus Brevett went into the book for a foul on Michael Doyle. City were given a free kick. Up stepped Michael Doyle who curled the ball high into the top corner of the net with Bywater well beaten and City were back on level terms.
Goalscorer Doyle became the next caution two minutes after the restart when he was spotted abusing Sheringham in an off the ball spat which also saw the former England striker cautioned.
A drop ball was given and Neil Wood got in a great position but did not get the height on his header and Bywater caught above his head.
Playing a 4-5-1 formation at home is always negative but City were using it to hold and break down the West Ham midfield.
In the 51st minute, the visitors did succeed in getting through this packed midfield and Marlon Harewood raced through but out came Shearer to block the ball with his feet.
Six minutes later,West Ham got down the left and the ball fell for Sheringham some four yards out. Just as he was about to shoot,Davenport timed his tackle superbly and cleared the ball for a corner.
In the 61st minute, the first substitution of the evening was made by Hammers boss Alan Pardew when Adam Nowland was replaced by Steve Lomas.
This started a trend as Neil Wood was replaced by Barrett and Eddy Johnson was replaced by Patrick Suffo in the 65th minute and three minutes after that, the facially challenged Luke Chadwick came on for former Spur Sergei Rebrov.
Lomas slotted into the right hand side and immediately won a corner. Etherington's flag kick was not properly cleared and it fell for Luke Chadwick. With only Shearer to beat. the former Man United player, leant back and blasted the ball high into the West Stand.
Now whether it was the lucky cat effect or the way City have rallied since the defeat by Millwall, I don't know but in the 76th minute,City scored their tenth goal in three games when Sherwood sent Hughes down the left. The midfielder beat a defender before crossing the ball. It found it's intended target of Andy Morrell who acrobatically got his left foot to the ball and thumped it past Bywater and into the net.
The City supporters went mad as did the players whilst the visitors looked on in disgust.
Both sides continued to go forwards and in the 81st minute,Hughes combined with Barrett to hit a 25 yard volley which Bywater just managed to grab.
More substitutions followed in the 83rd minute when Andy Morrell who had run himself into the ground was replaced by Bjarni Gudjonsson and Garcia replaced Brevett.
With time running out,West Ham had no option but to go for it and started to pressurise the City defence. Scott Shearer grabbed an 86th minute Chadwick chance and in the last minute of normal time. a free kick to the visitors was sent over by Etherington and man of the match Calum Davenport cleared away.
In the 94th minute, a whistle was blown by the referee. All the City supporters started jumping up and down thinking it was the final whistle. It was not. It was so the referee could sent off Steve Lomas who was right in front of the Main Stand.
With all the noise being created,it must have been hard for the match official to hear what Lomas had said but let alone understand his broad Northern Irish accent, but something unacceptable he must have heard as Lomas was ordered from the field of play.
Seconds later the final whistle came and City had moved up to fifth in the table. After being hugged by the City players and a number of West Ham ones, Calum Davenport looked like he had tears in his eyes as he applauded the City fans in all four sides of the ground. As we sang his name with pride and cheered him off,my phone was going mad with people unhappy at the meagre fee and the poor deal City had got for him with neither Davenport back on loan or someone like Jonnie Jackson in part exchange.
HT CCFC 1-1 WHUFC FT CCFC 2-1 WHUFC
Goals Teddy Sheringham (40)
Michael Doyle (45)
Andy Morrell (76)
Booked Carey,Doyle,Brevett,Reo-Coker, Sheringham
Sent OFF - Lomas
Man Of The Match - Calum Davenport.
Thanks for everything you have done and all the best.
Shearer,Carey,Staunton,Davenport,Shaw,Hughes, Sherwood,Doyle, Wood (Barrett 65),Morrell (Gudjonsson 83),Johnson (Suffo 65) SNU Marriott,Whing