Football: Dangerous Davies

Blackburn Rovers 2 Davies 45, Wilcox 88 Charlton Athletic 0 Half- time: 1-0 Attendance: 16,631
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The Independent Online
BRIAN KIDD'S winning run and Charlton's uncanny ability to lose even when they are not being out-played were both carried over from the Premiership to the FA Cup as Blackburn won an undistinguished tie.

Rovers, overstretched by injury and suspension, were not really in the business of outplaying anyone yesterday. They did manage, however, to put together a performance from the bits and pieces available to them which was good enough to account for a side who have sunk deep into the habit of losing.

Beaten in their last seven Premiership games and also well used to being knocked out of the Cup at this stage, Charlton still contrived to have rather more than their share of the first half, going close to opening the score when John Filan had to save low down from Neil Redfearn's toe- poke but could do nothing but watch when Chris Powell's cross was glanced on to his own post by Marlon Broomes' head.

But it was the same old story, merely translated from League to knockout competition, when Blackburn, who had shown precious little previously, took the lead shortly before half-time.

Broomes hit a long clearance out of defence, but it would have caused Charlton few problems if Richard Rufus and Eddie Youds had not managed to collide with each other as they both went for it. Their contretemps left Kevin Davies free to nudge the ball ahead and rifle it past Sasa Ilic for a well-struck goal.

It was all so familiar for the Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley: "It's very similar to the way we've played for the last seven or eight weeks," he said. "We played quite well only to be undone by terrible defending for the first goal and by missed chances."

Davies, who is now gradually finding his confidence under Kidd's supportive management, could have doubled Blackburn's lead shortly after the break, when he again ran clear but this time put his shot past the far post.

There was little flow or fluency to the work of a much-changed Blackburn side, though, and John Robinson, working tirelessly in the role of stand- in striker for Charlton, put one shot past the foot of the post and actually hit the woodwork with another.

Curbishley reshuffled his side extensively in search of an equaliser, but Charlton looked increasingly unlikely to extract one from a Blackburn formation now featuring five men strung across midfield.

As their time began to run out, Ilic decided to go upfield for a corner and was punished for his boldness when Blackburn broke away and Jason Wilcox put the ball in the net whilst the goalkeeper was still struggling to regain his ground.

Curbishley insisted that Ilic had acted on his own, misguided, initiative. "I'm staggered by his actions," said his manager. "There were seven or eight minutes left and it was not something we'd prepared for and not something we'd done in training. Let's just say I'm very disappointed."

But then disappointment is a feeling with which Curbishley and his men are all too familiar. All that was different yesterday was the competition.