Football: FA Cup: Ilic error covers up Charlton deficiency

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 2 Charlton Athletic 0

THOSE OF us still hanging around Ewood Park half an hour after this dismal affair were evacuated for a fire alarm. It was an inappropriate aftermath for a cup tie that was never in the remotest danger of catching light.

Although Brian Kidd was adamant that his absentees were injured rather than resting, and Alan Curbishley no doubt genuinely hoped for a lift from a venture into another competition, minds seemed to be elsewhere. Their priority is Premiership survival - and it showed.

Kidd could be pleased that his sixth match without defeat as Blackburn manager featured bit-part players doing a solid job. But there was little here of the revivalist spirit he has implanted in Rovers. They were often unconvincing at the back and, despite fielding four players whose main job description is winger, contrived to lack width in attack. Charlton are so adept at losing, however, that a shaky display by Blackburn was good enough.

As hopeless sides and generous opponents go, Charlton tend not to be thrashed, even by much better sides; against recuperating teams like Blackburn they frequently look the better side - or perhaps the less bad.

They work diligently and even create chances. But at the moment - and that moment now stretches to seven Premiership matches plus this cup exit - you can be sure they will navigate a route to defeat.

They did so in this tie courtesy of one crass defensive error and one attack of ill-fated eccentricity. The collision of their central defenders, Carl Tiler and Eddie Youds, gave Kevin Davies a clear run at goal for Blackburn's first goal.

Curbishley laid the blame for the second squarely at the door of his goal-keeper. Sasa Ilic made an unauthorised foray into the Blackburn goal- mouth for a corner as time ran out. If an equaliser had resulted, he would have been a hero; instead, Rovers broke away to score and he became a convenient scapegoat.

In Ilic's defence, the time when his side had looked capable of forcing a replay had already passed when he took his gamble. John Robinson, working hard and often effectively as an emergency striker, had twice gone close, but Ilic's ill-fated sortie did not look such an outrageous idea until it suddenly went wrong.

Goals: Davies (45) 1-0; Wilcox (88) 2-0.

Blackburn (4-4-2): Filan; Perez, Henchoz, Broomes, Croft; Gillespie, McKinlay, Marcolin (Dunn, 67), Wilcox; Gallacher (Duff, 62), Davies. Substitutes not used: Konde, Taylor, Fettis (gk).

Charlton (3-5-2): Ilic; Rufus, Youds, Tyler (Holmes, 67); Mills (Newton, 76), Parker (Bright, 67), Kinsella, Redfearn, Powell; Hunt, Robinson. Substitutes not used: Konchesky, Royce (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).

Bookings: Charlton: Parker.

Man of the match: Robinson.

Attendance: 16,631.