Hendry holds tight

Sunderland 0 Blackburn Rovers 0 Attendance: 20,85

BLACKBURN chalked up their sixth successive clean sheet to leave Sunderland feeling frustrated at Roker Park yesterday.

Peter Reid's side had the better chances but the Rovers defence, inspired by Henning Berg and Colin Hendry, were in commanding form.

Little was seen of the visitors as an attacking force, Kevin Gallacher squandering their only real opening when he fired straight at the Sunderland goalkeeper Lionel Perez.

Reid made three changes in the wake of his side's midweek FA Cup defeat against Arsenal. Their assistant manager, Paul Bracewell, returned from a knee injury, Alex Rae returned from suspension and there was a call- up for Martin Smith. They replaced Martin Gray, ruled out by a groin strain, and Craig Russell and Michael Bridges, who were both relegated to the bench. Sunderland's new signing Jan Eriksson also started on the bench. The Swedish centre-back, a pounds 250,000 buy from Helsingborg, has not played a competitive match since November.

The Blackburn caretaker manager Tony Parkes named an unchanged side with Garry Flitcroft continuing to deputise for the suspended Billy McKinlay.

The home side had the better chances in a tight first half, but the kind of finishing which has yielded just one win from their past six games let them down again yesterday.

Rae was inches away from applying the finishing touch to John Mullin's eighth-minute cross and when the ball reached Smith beyond the far post, he drove into the side-netting.

At the end of the half, Mullin squandered a good chance, shooting tamely at Tim Flowers from 10 yards after David Kelly had whipped in a low cross.

Sunderland's struggle to break Blackburn down continued in the second half. The best opportunity fell to the defender Richard Ord, but Flowers showed superb reflexes to tip over his bullet header.

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