Saturday, 01 December 2001
Nationwide League Division 1
Highfield Road
Attendance: 17,303
Ref: Phil Prosser
Coventry City
Lee Hughes, Lee Mills, David Thompson
3 (2) - (1) 1
Jobi McAnuff
Magnus Hedman
Youssef Chippo
Subbed 81m
Marc Edworthy
Yellow 52m
Laurent Delorge
Lee Carsley
Youssef Safri
Lee Hughes
Goal 20m
Lee Mills
Goal 43m Subbed 83m
David Thompson
Goal 79m
Marcus Hall
Muhamed Konjić
Julian Joachim
Sub (12 83m)12
Andy Goram
Lee Fowler
Sub (11 81m)11
Tomas Antonelius
Barry Quinn

You would have to be a fool to play a midfielder in central defence. Everyone knows that. If you are blessed with a dynamic individual - a Republic of Ireland international at that - who can best influence a game from its centre, you might as well hand over the three points before kick-off as take to the field with him in defence. Just ask Alex Ferguson.

But sometimes it works. For the second time in a week, Roland Nilsson played Lee Carsley at centre-back, and for the second time in a week Coventry won comfortably. "He's got a long career as a defender ahead of him," Nilsson said. It was just one of those things in a game which was, if such a thing is possible, predictably surprising.

It was, on the face of it, a surprise that Lee Hughes scored. After all, it had been 13 games since last he did so from open play. But the bookmakers are no fools, and they made the ginger hitman favourite to score for Coventry - followed by Lee Mills and David Thompson. They even got the order right.

The result, even the scorers, may have been predictable but there was a surprisingly triumphal mood in the Coventry camp after the game, though Hughes pronounced himself "just relieved". He added: "I've stayed confident and carried on playing my normal game, doing what I do best."

What has prompted the upturn in his fortunes is the arrival of Mills on loan from Portsmouth. "Having a target man has brought a different dimension to our game," Hughes said. "Hopefully he'll set me up for a few more goals. I'd like to see him sign permanently."

That, however, is unlikely. City's latest accounts reveal them to be £59,613,661 in debt. "It's going to be hard to bring in anybody new," said Nilsson.

There were three shots on target in a first half to which Wimbledon contributed little. All went in. The second period was much brighter, particularly for the away side, but only Thompson's late goal resulted. Which was strange, for sure, but hardly a surprise.