Blackburn Rovers issued quite a scare to Manchester City during a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park in the third round of the 2013/14 FA Cup, but will be left rueing their inability to capitalize on a late City red card.
The subplots were plenty for six-time winners Blackburn; Paul Robinson returned to the pitch after a back injury and life-threatening blood clot kept the accomplished goalkeeper away from game action for nearly a year. Scottish super striker Jordan Rhodes didn’t start, leading to even more rumors of a transfer out of Blackburn to one of many suitors.
Blackburn’s first half was under heavy pressure, but a well-defended frame that fell moments short of perfect. Unfortunately for the Rovers, their defending turned spotty on a David Silva corner. Edin Dzeko headed the corner off frame, but Alvaro Negredo collected the ball and easily touched it home for a 1-0 lead moments before the halftime whistle.
Whatever manager Gary Bowyer said during the intermission was pitch perfect, as the Rovers were anything but hemmed in to open the second half. Bowyer’s camera-captured gesticulations and reactions became part of the match’s entertainment, and his reaction to the equalizer was a beauty.
Ewood Park erupted when oft-dangerous Tom Cairney sent in a cross that 6-foot-4 Frenchman Rudy Gestede headed toward Costel Pantilimon. The City keeper made the stop but couldn’t control the ball, with Blackburn captain Scott Dann pushing the rebound across the line.
Blackburn’s chances of advancing to the fourth round looked even better when Dedryck Boyata took an absolutely ridiculous second yellow card that could’ve been a straight red, anyway. Boyata more or less took a veiled swing at DJ Campbell and was sent off.
Unfortunately for Blackburn, they could not capitalize despite decent possession and a clever left-footed shot from Cairney. Man City was content to send it to a replay, even with a couple chances of their own during four minutes of added time.
There will be a replay for the two sides at City’s fortress, the Etihad Stadium. The Citizens have won the FA Cup one time fewer than Blackburn, and will be grateful their potential for No. 6 is still alive.
All-in-all, an entertaining start to the day’s heavy FA Cup slate.