Football: Heskey double undoes Rovers

Blackburn Rovers 2 Leicester City 4
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The Independent Online
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A double dose of Emile Heskey ended Blackburn Rovers' season on a depressing note, notwithstanding the fact that they will be participating in the Premiership next season with a new manager and fresh players.

The chequebook of the Blackburn benefactor, ack Walker, is already understood to have been waved under the noses of several class acts around Europe, who will form the basis of Roy Hodgson's first post-Internazionale team.

Tony Parkes, whose caretaker stewardship of a rocking Rovers has been worthy of a manager of the year award, will now slip back into the Ewood boot room, and he deserved a better send-off.

The crowd of 25,881 saw Garry Flitcroft and Graham Fenton score Rovers' goals, but the inadequacies of a squad who have not been sufficiently reinforced since the departure of Alan Shearer for a world record pounds 15m were stark.

Leicester, who gave the Frenchman Franck Rolling his first Premiership start in 18 months, were ahead after only 13 minutes. The 19-year-old Heskey forced himself in front of the central defender Colin Hendry - whose next assignment is with a surgeon's knife - to meet a cross from Steve Claridge and head low past keeper Tim Flowers from six yards.

Only a marvellous recovery tackle by Ian Pearce prevented Claridge adding a second for the Coca-Cola Cup winners before Blackburn drew level on 25 minutes. Kasey Keller fumbled a shot from Kevin Gallacher and, after a defensive mix-up, the ball was turned home by Flitcroft.

Blackburn, who gave a debut to the teenage winger Damien Duff, survived a penalty appeal when Pearce appeared to foul Heskey and then contrived to miss a glorious chance on the stroke of half-time. Fenton, fed by the captain, Tim Sherwood, shot wide with only Keller to beat.

Flitcroft wasted a glorious chance to give Blackburn the lead early in the second half and then watched Leicester strike twice inside a minute.

Claridge ran alongside two defenders for 15 yards before guiding a right-foot shot beyond Flowers and then Heskey outpaced Pearce to smash the ball home from a tight angle with Flowers rooted.

Blackburn responded as Fenton hit a post with a header and Leicester were also denied by the woodwork, Matthew Elliott's header bouncing against the bar and away to safety.

Fenton's first of the season, a power header from a Stuart Ripley cross, gave Rovers hope, but Leicester made the game safe nine minutes from time when a right-foot shot by the substitute Stuart Wilson was deflected past a stranded Flowers.

Goals: Heskey (13) 0-1; Flitcroft (25) 1-1; Claridge (55) 1-2; Heskey (56) 1-3; Fenton (66) 2-3; Wilson (81) 2-4.

Blackburn Rovers (3-5-2): Flowers; Hendry (Marker, 84), Pearce, Kenna; Sherwood, McKinlay (Ripley, 76), Flitcroft, Le Saux, Duff; Gallacher, Fenton. Substitutes not used: Donis, Warhurst, Given (gk).

Leicester City (4-4-2): Keller; Grayson (Lawrence, 36), Prior (Whitlow, 28), Elliott, Lennon; Kamaark, Rolling (Wilson, 75), Guppy, Campbell; Claridge, Heskey. Substitutes not used: Robins, Poole (gk).

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol). Man of the match: Heskey. Attendance: 25,881

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