Manchester City 0 Blackburn Rovers 0

Hughes happy for a point as Pearce turns up the pressure
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No goals and no saves in sight - apart from at the local supermarket - but do not tell Stuart Pearce there was no point to this bore draw. The Manchester City manager was so keen to inspire his team to victory he twice ran on to the pitch to grab the ball and speed up play when he thought Blackburn were time wasting.

It was good knockabout stuff in a game otherwise devoid of incident - borne out by the fact that neither team recorded a shot on target.

Pearce received a stern telling off from the Yorkshire referee, Martin Atkinson, but a warm handshake and a wry smile from the Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, who, despite earlier reservations, was ultimately satisfied with a hard-earned point away from home.

"Given the preparations I thought we did well, but the defences dominated the game" Hughes said. "I don't know what Stuart was up to but I told him afterwards he might get a game next week.

"I don't know what the rules are - I got sent off at Chelsea for kicking a bag and he just gets a talking to for running on the pitch." Maybe Atkinson and the Football Association will reflect on events this week, but hopefully they will laugh it off - just as Pearce did, in typical deadpan fashion.

"I think kicking bags is disgusting - I just tried to speed the game up," he said in his defence. "You only get in trouble for trying to slow the game and I just wanted to get the ball back in play.

"The referee said he understood that by my body language I had made my message clear. We were trying to set a tempo as the home team and Blackburn were using every opportunity to stifle us and slow it down. I'm not blaming Blackburn because they did their job well and got the point they wanted."

Hughes did not want to play this match yesterday despite an impressive run of four wins in six games, the two defeats coming at Liverpool and Chelsea. Hughes' moan was in search of a further day's rest for his seven players on international duty last week. Manchester City had none, he stated.

"We had to rejig the side and I thought we bossed the first half before City came back into it," Hughes insisted, having omitted Australian World Cup qualifiers Brett Emerton and Lucas Neill as if to prove his point.

That said, Pearce had injury and suspension problems to contend with as he looked to take his side as high as third and build on a strong home record of only one defeat in six. With Claudio Reyna and Joey Barton out Pearce named the Chinese defender Sun Jihai in midfield for his 100th City appearance.

The impressive City and Rovers stats proved to be misleading, though, as both teams would have struggled to make an impact against half-decent opposition.

There was the odd half-chance for City's Kiki Musampa, Darius Vassell and the commanding defender Richard Dunne.

But as the game played out to an almost inevitable conclusion only referee Atkinson might want to see a replay and reflect on how he awarded City a free-kick after Danny Mills appeared to aim a couple of punches at Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen. Neither manager seemed too concerned afterwards although they expressed a keenness to see the "tangle" on a video replay.

Pearce had already been on the pitch by then to try, unsuccessfully, to get the ball from Steven Reid, but Robbie Savage, one of six Rovers players booked, was his target when referee Atkinson and the fourth official moved to calm matters in time added on at the end.

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