Football: Rovers overrun by Coventry's raiding party

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Coventry City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

BLACKBURN ROVERS slipped to their heaviest defeat under Kenny Dalglish's 15-month stewardship as Coventry City confirmed their emergence from mid- winter slumber to undermine the home club's championship aspirations at Ewood Park last night.

The Blackburn manager could not remember conceding five goals in his career. 'Certainly not at Liverpool, and Celtic never lost by five,' he said.

Rovers' brief second-half revival, like their early promise, flickered and died in the face of Coventry's more cohesive, more imaginative and ultimately more destructive football.

A victory, which will be welcomed from Carrow Road, through Villa Park, to Old Trafford, was cemented by two goals in the last five minutes from Mick Quinn, bringing his total for Coventry to 13 in 12 matches.

Blackburn, still competing on three fronts, scored first through Mike Newell after 13 minutes, but were behind by half-time. Aided and abetted by Coventry's shaky start, Rovers might even have gone three ahead, but proceeded to feed Coventry's optimism with defensive errors of their own. After 20 minutes, the Midlanders had a bizarre equaliser and then, a minute before the break, they went ahead with a goal of genuine quality.

Stuart Ripley lifted a shot over the bar and Roy Wegerle tested Steve Ogrizovic with a raking shot, which the Coventry goalkeeper clutched at the second attempt. He was not so fortunate when Peter Atherton failed to cut out a seemingly innocuous through ball from David May. Wegerle took it on, steadied himself, yet struck his shot straight at Ogrizovic. To Wegerle's relief the rebound presented Newell with a simple tap-in.

Rather than consolidate, Blackburn allowed Coventry back into the match. Alan Wright appeared to have cleared the danger as he hooked the ball off the line but to Blackburn's dismay, it hit central defender Colin Hendry and ricochetted into the net.

Ogrizovic had to turn away a fierce shot from Ripley at the end of an incisive, flowing move, but even so, Coventry should have taken the lead after 38 minutes. Michael Gynn's shot came back off a post and Quinn took too much care with the rebound, giving Hendry the time and opportunity to clear.

Wright led another period of pressure from Blackburn with a shot saved by Ogrizovic low at his right-hand post. The goalkeeper was beaten by Tim Sherwood's volley, but the ball came back off the woodwork.

The half was almost over when Lee Hurst's long-range shot defied Bobby Mimms's groping dive and Coventry had the lead.

Blackburn lost Wright to injury after 47 minutes, and a third goal 60 seconds later. John Williams capitalised on another blunder and his phenomenal pace when May's under-hit back-pass exposed Mimms. Williams beat the goalkeeper to the ball and scored from a difficult angle.

Visibly deflated, Blackburn struggled for the ideas or tempo likely to change the course of the game again, although Gordon Cowans stretched Ogrizovic to a finger-tip save.

Dalglish pushed Hendry into his attack and the strategy salvaged a second goal after 70 minutes. Newell centred precisely from the left and Hendry, unchallenged at the far post, headed in.

Quinn stroked in a low cross from the right from Gynn to put Coventry 4-2 ahead in the 85th minute. He wrapped up the proceedings in the last minute by turning on the ball just outside the area and shooting home.

Blackburn Rovers: Mimms; May, Wright (Atkins, 47), Sherwood, Hendry, Marker, Ripley, Cowans (Andersson, 69), Wegerle, Newell, Wilcox. Substitute not used: Collier (gk).

Coventry City: Ogrizovic; Borrows, Babb, Atherton, Busst, Williams, Ndlovu, Gynn, Rosario, Quinn, Hurst. Substitutes not used: Billing, Rowland, Gould (gk).

Referee: K Redfern (Whitley Bay).

Wimbledon punished, page 31