Ipswich prove awkward for Blackburn

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The Independent Online
Football

DERICK ALLSOP

Blackburn Rovers 0 Ipswich Town 0 (score at 90 min)

An FA Cup third-round replay that neither side appeared capable of winning made its haphazard way into extra time, doubtless buoying Walsall's confidence for the next round.

Given Blackburn's prodigious home form and Ipswich's status as the First Division's top scorers, Ewood Park might have anticipated a more explosive spectacle, but the first meeting failed to produce a goal and it was not difficult to work out why. There was plenty of composed, measured build- up, but precious little assurance in front of goal.

Alan Shearer, who had scored in every previous domestic home game this season, 20 in all from a total of 26, headed in just before half-time but the referee, David Elleray, indicated a pushing offence and the England centre-forward was denied his 27th.

Ipswich, stoically served by those veteran defenders, John Wark and Tony Mowbray, might have been ahead just before that incident, Blackburn somehow surviving the efforts of Alex Mathie and Simon Milton.

Shearer threatened to sustain his remarkable scoring sequence in only the third minute until his header was deflected for a corner.

Blackburn backed so far off the advancing Milton he was never likely to be frustrated by a deflection and Tim Flowers was relieved to see the shot clear his bar by some distance. Ian Marshall was also too high following another bold run by Milton.

Suitably shaken, Blackburn raised the tempo of their game. Stuart Ripley and Shearer examined Ipswich's 18-year-old third-choice goalkeeper. Shearer's miscue averted further anxiety and his toe-poke was off target.

Shearer, stretching and falling, was no more accurate early in the second half. Mike Newell had a glimpse of a chance and headed wide, then brought an excellent reflex save from Wright, the former schoolboy international.

Flowers, too, made a crucial save, blocking Mathie's path after Chris Coleman's error put him clear. The striker, his confidence presumably shaken, fluffed another opportunity moments later. Flowers made another fine save, this time from Sedgley and five minutes from the end Shearer's long-range free-kick struck the bar.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, Hendry, Coleman, Kenna; Ripley, Batty, Bohinen, Gallacher; Newell (McKinlay, 72), Shearer. Substitutes not used: Sherwood, Mimms (gk).

Ipswich Town (3-5-2): Wright; Wark, Mowbray, Thomsen; Uhlenbeek, Milton (Mason, 67), Williams, Sedgley, Vaughan; Mathie, Marshall. Substitutes not used: Gregory, Tanner.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill).

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