Sidebar

18
Wed, Oct
51 New Articles

Typography
Chest swollen and chin elevated, Trinidad and Tobago international striker Stern John strode to the corner flag yesterday at the Highfield Road Stadium as if he were moving through his own living room.


John cocked his head as though listening to a radio and smirked in recognition of a tune he liked.

It was the sound of nearly 20,000 animated supporters roaring in delight at a valuable goal that secured a last-gasp 2-2 draw for Coventry City at home to Midland rivals, Wolverhampton Wanderers, in a crucial League Championship fixture.

The goal was John's ninth of the season and kept the "Sky Blues" two points above the relegation zone. But he felt particularly pleased with the manner in which he crafted the equaliser.

For a player who reserves his best work for inside the opposing 18-yard box, John's solo effort was an eye-catching reminder that he can still enact a dazzling surprise.Just as poignantly, John promised Trinidad and Tobago and Coventry fans they would see a more direct approach from now on.
Steve Staunton congratulates Stern John after his last minute goal during the Coca Cola Football League Championship match between Coventry City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Highfield Road yesterday. The game ended in a 2-2 draw

"I need to go back to my old game," said the 28-year-old striker. "Since I came to England, they want me to play off the ball to the flanks and get in the box while I am accustomed to doing my turns and taking on defenders.

"So I just have to get back to my old self."

He could not have picked a worse time as far as Wolves manager and former England boss and midfield star Glenn Hoddle was concerned.

"It was a bitter pill to take," said Hoddle, in the post-match press conference. "It should have been enough. Two-one should have been enough. Them two points would have been vital for us to end on a high."

Wolves are in 13th place and have no chance of being promoted this season but Hoddle's six-month deal with the club ends next month and the team are probably playing for his job.

It seemed sufficient motivation from the opening whistle as Wolves carved up an opportunity after just nine seconds, only for Colin Cameron to drag his shot wide of the far post.

The match was still not a minute old when Coventry responded in like fashion as Lloyd Dyer released forward Dele Adebola, who was equally wasteful from inside the penalty area.

Wolves did go ahead in the 15th minute when the unmarked Leon Clarke headed in a left side Lee Naylor free kick but, again, Coventry matched them as, two minutes later, Gary McSheffrey won and converted a penalty for the home team.

Coventry were spirited but second best in terms of quality as Wolves midfielders Sefi Olofinjana and veteran Paul Ince, formerly of Manchester United and Inter Milan, dictated the pace of the game.

Coventry manager Mickey Adams introduced John midway through the second half but things got worse as Naylor's speculative effort took a cruel deflection to send the visitors ahead in the 79th minute.

John's head dropped, but only for a second. There was something different about the former El Dorado school boy yesterday.

He swapped his gold boots for a more old fashioned black pair and, more tellingly, his performance reminded of a more prolific era.

He refused to leave his fate up to the whims of the Coventry midfielders.

"At Coventry, and for Trinidad, we don't create that much as a team so maybe I need to create more for myself," he said. "If I try to play post-up and give and go, sometimes I go through the whole game and don't get a shot. So I have to go back to the old Stern John."

He got his reward in the final minute when Wolves winger and Korean international Seol conceded possession inside his own half with a careless flick and Michael Doyle quickly picked out John.

Thirty yards from the opposing goal, John spun and ran straight at Wolves right back Mikkell Bischoff who, until then, had put in a flawless performance.

John teased with a lowered shoulder and Bischoff picked the wrong channel to police as the Trinidadian neatly stepped inside the defender.

Wolves stopper Jody Craddock backed off as though expecting John to pass to a teammate, but again the visitors misread his intentions.

Craddock was already inside his own box with John still dancing towards him before he realised his mistake and offered a feeble tackle. John stepped outside the disoriented Craddock and opened his body to stab the ball into the far corner.

Highfield Road exploded and John swaggered towards the corner flag with his chest puffed out as though he were on a catwalk.

"It is one of the best ways to answer my critics," said John. "I was really emotional today when I scored because I believe I am one of the players who should play every week on this team. But I just have to keep working hard.

"I hope I can get two or three goals again this season and hopefully my goal today would put me back into the frame."

Coventry's relegation battle just got more interesting.