Football: Ogrizovic helps Coventry to wind back the clock

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 1 Coventry City 2

Another twist in the tale of this most unpredictable of FA Cups saw Coventry revive memories of their finest hour a decade ago. In the 10 years since Keith Houchen's goal gave them victory at Wembley, City have never been beyond the fourth round.

For them to do so this year, after a lucky escape at the hands of Woking and against a side unbeaten at home under Tony Parkes' caretaker regime, seemed an unlikely proposition.

To manage it after falling behind before the game was meant to kick off suggests a degree of outside intervention that could see them progress still further. It is illogical enough to be in this season's script.

After the first, drawn game against the non-League side, the Coventry manager, Gordon Strachan, publicly questioned his team's commitment and character.

There is still the main, perennial, issue of Premiership survival to be dealt with, but they provided him with an answer to be going on with on Saturday.

A goal down to Tim Sherwood's crisp finish a minute before three o'clock, City gradually clawed their way back into the match to take the lead by half-time.

There was much to admire in the way they turned their fortunes around, especially in the calm control of Gary McAllister and the industry of Darren Huckerby, the scorer of a well-constructed second Coventry goal immediately before half-time.

The crucial intervention in the second half, however, came from Steve Ogrizovic's penalty save. "I end up talking about him every week," said Strachan of the 39-year-old goalkeeper, whose solidity has been one of the few constants at Highfield Road this season.

"He doesn't make these saves because he's lucky. He does it because he works as hard as anyone I've ever known in football."

Although Chris Sutton's spot-kick could have been struck more forcefully, it was still well enough directed to beat most goalkeepers, even one who has acquired so much experience and was the man who kept Spurs at bay in the 1987 Cup final.

But Ogrizovic stopped it and managed to mop up the rebound. It is too early to even start to dream of a return to Wembley 10 years after their only visit, but the FA Cup no longer gives Coventry vertigo.

Goals: Sherwood (1) 1-0; Jess (28) 1-1; Huckerby (44) 1-2.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Kenna, Berg, Hendry, Le Saux; Flitcroft (Warhurst, 70), Sherwood, McKinlay, Wilcox; Gallacher, Sutton (Donis, 81). Substitute not used: Given (gk).

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Shaw, Williams, Borrows, Hall; Telfer, Richardson, McAllister, Whelan; Jess, Huckerby (Ndlovu, 73). Substitutes not used: Strachan, Willis.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Bookings: Blackburn Kenna, Flitcroft, McKinlay; Coventry Shaw, Borrows.

Man of the match: McAllister. Attendance: 21,123.

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