Football: Flowers flounders

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Coventry City 2

Dublin pen 19, Boateng 34

Blackburn Rovers 0

Attendance: 18,794

THE England goalkeeper, Tim Flowers, was sent off without ever making it on to the pitch at Highfield Road yesterday, when he vented his anger at a linesman's penalty decision from the touchline as Blackburn's European hopes suffered a setback against Coventry.

Flowers was enraged when the referee's assistant spotted a handball by the Blackburn defender Patrick Valery. The official raised his flag up and then put it down before the referee, Stephen Lodge, who had initially waved play on, finally consulted him and awarded Coventry an 18th-minute penalty which Dion Dublin hit confidently past John Filan, who had started in place of Flowers.

Tempers increased further when, four minutes later, Chris Sutton escaped with a yellow card after hacking down the Coventry midfielder Noel Whelan. Sutton was angered when the Coventry players prevented him taking a quick free-kick and when the ball eventually fell to Whelan, the Blackburn striker arrived late with a reckless tackle.

Roy Hodgson's side had their chances to get back into the game, yet first Sutton and then Jason Wilcox missed good opportunities, and it was Coventry instead who doubled their advantage on 34 minutes. Dublin received the ball in the penalty area after some delightful approach work by Gary Breen and the England hopeful laid a pass into the path of George Boateng as he raced towards goal. The Dutch midfielder, back after four games out with a thigh injury, took the ball in his stride and shot past Filan. Dublin almost scored a third, five minutes before the break, when he met a cross from Huckerby with a thunderous header but his effort hit the post and rebounded to safety.

In the second half, Blackburn had chances to get something out of the game, but the Coventry goalkeeper, Magnus Hedman, saved brilliantly from Kevin Gallacher and the substitute, Martin Dahlin.