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

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?