Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester City 1 match report: Rovers scrap their way to replay pay-off

Home players clash after City take the lead but Dann’s equaliser will cover cost of new signing

Ewood Park

It went better than Manchester City’s previous game in the FA Cup that finished with Roberto Mancini’s sacking after a final lost in the driving Wembley rain – but not much better. This was another questionable away performance, featuring another goalkeeping error and topped off by the dismissal of the full-back Dedryck Boyata five minutes from the end of a tie that Blackburn might have won.

They did not and, given City’s formidable record at the Etihad Stadium, they will back themselves in the replay. However, it means that plans for a trip to Abu Dhabi for warm-weather training and a friendly against Al Ain, the Gulf League champions, must be scrapped.

Blackburn’s rewards are rather greater. The £500,000 they can expect to earn from a replay will pay for Tom Cairney, whose signing they had just completed from Hull City for a similar amount. The young midfielder’s technique was as good as any on display here and right at the finish a shot that would have won the game whistled past Costel Pantilimon’s post.

However, as his manager, Gary Bowyer, pointed out, this was a game that had restored some pride in a club whose owners, Venky’s, have spent £100 million on creating a mid-table Championship side out of a mid-table Premier League one.

There were just four survivors from the team that in February had knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup, which tells a story of the convulsions the club has been through. However, this display was comparable. Bowyer said: “It was a terrific performance against a world-class team.”

The match turned 10 minutes after the interval when Pantilimon spilled a straightforward header from Rudy Gestede at Scott Dann’s feet. As he had done after Joe Hart’s errors, his manager, Manuel Pellegrini, refused to criticise the keeper, saying he would analyse the performance with his technical staff first. He did add that Boyata deserved his red card for a second bookable offence.

The sight of Paul Robinson keeping goal for Blackburn meant that Pantilimon’s error should not be blown up into a “calamity” or a  “personal tragedy”. This was Robinson’s first game in 13 months. After undergoing back surgery he had developed a clot in the main artery that feeds the lung which, but for some prompt diagnosis over the phone by the Blackburn club doctor, Duncan Robertson, might have killed him.

Recuperating at home in Yorkshire, Robinson confessed to “feeling like a 90-year-old smoker with asthma”. Here, he felt like a professional keeper with 41 England caps. There were saves from Jesus Navas and Edin Dzeko and, after another had almost squirmed through his feet, he burst into a grin. Even had Blackburn lost, the day would not have been a disaster.

At the interval, it looked as though Blackburn would lose. City had initially been surprised by their aggression but after 20 minutes or so, they had found their feet and Alvaro Negredo, a striker who seems made for the FA Cup, was finding the range. The big Spaniard had already demonstrated flashes of considerable skill when he found himself inevitably in the right place at the far post to volley home a flick-on from Dzeko. City were one up and the fourth round and the waters of the Arabian Gulf were beckoning.

The goal sparked bitter recriminations among the Blackburn defence, with Grant Hanley squaring up to Chris Taylor in a row that continued as the players headed into the tunnel at the interval and carried echoes of the punch-up between Graeme Le Saux and David Batty on the pitch in Moscow during a Champions League tie.

Blackburn are light years from the Champions League but they are not the mess they were. The last time Ewood Park had staged an FA Cup tie was an abysmal quarter-final against Millwall that was squandered in front of a crowd of 8,600. There were not that many more home fans now but the experience was rather more uplifting.

Line-ups:

Blackburn Rovers (4-5-1): Robinson; Henley, Dann, Hanley, Spurr; Cairney, Taylor, Lowe, Williamson (King, 64), Marshall (Campbell, 80); Gestede (Rhodes, 80).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Pantilimon; Boyata, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy; Milner, Fernardino (Touré, 64), Garcia, Silva (Zabaleta, 88); Negredo (Navas, 75), Dzeko.

Referee: Michael Oliver.

Man of the match: Cairney (Blackburn)

Match rating: 7/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn