Football: No roving in Europe

 

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The Independent Online

Blackburn Rovers. . . 1

Sheffield Wednesday. .0

LIKE day-trippers who buy their duty-free and get straight back on to the hovercraft, Blackburn Rovers were almost in Europe for a few minutes yesterday.

Victory over Wednesday and a Norwich defeat at Middlesbrough would have given them third place and all that would then have been required was for Wednesday to lose to Arsenal at Wembley.

This listless display by a team very close to Cup Final strength left few doubting that they were capable of that, but then the news arrived from Ayresome that Norwich had salvaged a point.

The goal that raised hopes of midweek jaunts to the Continent came 20 minutes into the second half of an uninspiring match and stood out all the more for the mediocrity that surrounded it.

An educated touch by Gordon Cowans helped Jason Wilcox get free on the left and his early cross was met on the half-volley by Tim Sherwood, whose high shot always had Chris Woods beaten.

That was the undoubted highlight of a match which was otherwise notable only for a couple of flashes of diffident Chris Waddle magic, including a wonderful long ball for David Hirst, and the booking of Nigel Worthington and Colin Hendry for rattling into the back of opponents.

There was more to savour in a rare public pronouncement from Rovers' benefactor Jack Walker at half-time. Whether or not Blackburn made it into third spot, he said, he was confident of something better next season.

Most of us at Ewood Park would have settled for something better in the second half and, to a very limited degree, we got it.

A slightly sharper Blackburn saw Stuart Ripley's cross almost lure Viv Anderson into putting through his own net and they had a penalty appeal turned down after Ripley's flick hit John Harkes.

Sherwood was close to adding a second in the last minute, but the news from the north-east rather spoiled the effect of Rovers' planned lap of honour.

Blackburn Rovers: B Mimms; D May, G Le Saux, T Sherwood, C Hendry, N Marker, S Ripley, G Cowans, K Gallacher, M Newell (M Atkins, 45 min) J Wilcox. Subs not used: P Andersson, F Talia (gk). Manager: K Dalglish.

Sheffield Wednesday: C Woods; R Nilsson, N Worthington, C Palmer, P Shirtliff, V Anderson, J Harkes, C Waddle (C Bart-Williams, 73 min), D Hirst, M Bright, J Sheridan (G Hyde, 56 min). Sub not used: K Pressman (gk). Manager: T Francis.

Referee: P Don (Hanworth Park).

Goal: Sherwood (1-0, 65 min).

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