Davison gives Rovers a helping hand

Blackburn Rovers 3 - Colchester United 0
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The Independent Online

Beating a side who are two divisions higher up the League away from home is hard enough at the best of times, even in the FA Cup. Give your Premiership opponents a goal start as well, and the chance of the latest in a long line of giant-killing acts evaporates completely.

Beating a side who are two divisions higher up the League away from home is hard enough at the best of times, even in the FA Cup. Give your Premiership opponents a goal start as well, and the chance of the latest in a long line of giant-killing acts evaporates completely.

So it was at Ewood Park yesterday when League One side Colchester showed enough in the opening stages to suggest they could have troubled six-time cup-winners Blackburn.

But the tie was lost in the time it took Kevin Watson's gentle back pass to evade the right boot of experienced goalkeeper Aidan Davison and roll slowly into the net.

From that moment, halfway through the first half, Blackburn's passage into the last 16 was guaranteed and the main point of interest was the absence of club captain Barry Ferguson from the line-up. Manager Mark Hughes later confirmed that the midfielder, though fit, was not in the right frame of mind to play.

"There was nothing I could say to Aidan," said Phil Parkinson, the Colchester manager. "These things happen in football. They've happened before and they'll happen again. He's an experienced keeper and he's strong enough to come back." "That one goes down to the groundsman," added Hughes.

Jemal Johnson, Blackburn's 19-year-old American striker, marked a lively full debut with his first goal for the club before half-time, and Dominic Matteo added a third. The rest of the match was little more than a procession, although to Colchester's credit they continued to commit men forward in pursuit of a consolation.

Prior to Davison's horrible mistake, it had all begun so promisingly for Colchester. With five clean sheets in their previous six games and a 5-0 win over Walsall in midweek, the League One side had arrived in good spirit.

Just as they were beginning to settle into the game, however, Watson, tidying up after a Blackburn attack, rolled the ball back to his goalkeeper. Without a striker in sight, Davison, who played in the Premiership for Bolton and Bradford, took a wild swing, made only the faintest of contact with the ball and let it trickle into the net. As goalkeeping catastrophes go, it was up there with the very best.

The Essex side's chances of reaching the fifth round for the second year in a row were rapidly receding and the game was as good as over before half-time. David Thompson provided a right-wing incursion and Morten Gamst Pedersen set up Johnson to shoot low into the corner.

"It was quite comfortable after that," said Hughes. "Because we approached the game properly it was very difficult for Colchester to gain a foothold in the game, and in the end it was an easy win."

After the break, Matteo added a third when Robbie Savage found him unmarked at the near post with a left-wing free-kick. From then on, they attacked at will without adding to the score, so Colchester's large travelling support was at least spared the ignominy of a heavier defeat.

"It took us a long time to recover after going behind," said Parkinson. "But in the second half we could have folded and we didn't and kept going.

"To beat a Premiership side you need all your players to be at their very best and even though it wasn't for a lack of effort, we didn't manage that."

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