Best stuns weakened Rovers

Coventry City 1 Blackburn Rovers 0
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The Independent Football

Unlucky not to have come out on top at the first attempt, Coventry deservedly clinched a home FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea through Leon Best's second-half goal at the Ricoh Arena, leaving Blackburn to focus exclusively on their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League, which would have been their priority regardless of this result.

Manager Sam Allardyce did not start with any of the 11 players narrowly beaten by Manchester United last weekend but while making no apology for the changes insisted he was disappointed to go out.

"The Premier League has to be the overriding priority," he said. "With the run of games we have coming up – four in 14 days starting with Hull City on Sunday – I have to use my full squad.

"But the dream of going to Wembley is there and I was disappointed because here was a chance for players who think they should be getting more games to show what they can do and they failed to do that, particularly in the second half."

Best, wearing a face mask to protect a fractured cheekbone, took advantage of poor marking to head home Aron Gunnarsson's cross after 58 minutes.

Coventry needed some heroic defending to preserve their lead in the closing stages and had some luck when Christopher Samba, whose stoppage-time goal at Ewood Park 11 days ago forced last night's rematch, somehow missed the target with a similarly last-gasp effort. Coventry had played well enough, though, to merit their progress.

"It is as good a night as we have had since I came to the club a year ago," manager Chris Coleman said.

"Blackburn's priority is to stay in the Premier League but for a club like ours a Cup run is important and our fans deserved this." The tie had taken a while to come to life, although there was an early chance for Carlos Villanueva that Coventry goalkeeper Kieran Westwood pushed wide for a corner.

But the best chances of the first half fell to the home side, with centre-half Elliott Ward and striker Clinton Morrison both missing good opportunities.

Victories over Wolves and Birmingham in the Championship recently offer evidence of improvement from Coventry and it was a reflection of their growing confidence that they should get their noses in front. Gunnarsson's cross found Best unmarked and the Coventry striker headed beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jason Brown.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Westwood; Wright, Ward, Turner, Fox; Henderson, Gunnarsson, Doyle, Eastwood (R Simpson, 87); Morrison, Best. Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Hall, Beuzelin, Osbourne, Thornton, Cain.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Brown; D Simpson, Samba, Khizanishvili (Givet, 80), Olsson; Villanueva (Santa Cruz, 67), Kerimoglu, Mokoena, Treacy (Warnock, 67); Roberts, McCarthy. Substitutes not used: Robinson (gk), Nelsen, Pedersen, Doran.

Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).

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