Blackburn v Manchester City Worthington Cup 4th Round 2001/02

blackburn away worthy cup 2001 to 02 prog blackburn away worthy cup 2001 to 02 ticket

Worthington Cup 4th Round

28th November 2001

Attendance 17,907

Scorers Johansson(45), Johnson(90)

Ref Uriah Rennie

City Nash, Mettomo, Pearce, Wiekens, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Benarbia, Berkovic, Negouai, Horlock, Huckerby – subs Granville(3), Toure(71), Ritchie(66), Weaver(unused), Killen(unused)Blackburn Friedel, Curtis, Taylor, Johansson, Gillespie, Johnson, Tugay, Dunn, Duff, Hughes, Hignett – subs Mahon(71), Ostenstad(62), Dunning(unused), Greer(unused), Kelly(unused)
blackburn away worthy cup 2001 to 02 action
Referee Uriah Heaps Cup Misery On Blues
MANCHESTER City learned last night that what goes around comes around. Any grievances Blackburn Rovers had about the Blues ‘stealing’ a promotion-procuring 4-1 win at Ewood Park 18 months ago must surely now have evaporated after they were handed a passage into the Worthington Cup last eight by controversial – some might say hapless — ref Uriah Rennie.
Manchester a grey blur of fluid movement and accurate passing, were the better, sharper team in last night’s feisty rain—lashed tie until Uriah heaped misery on them with a series of baffling and daft decisions. Chief among them came in the 26th minute when he brandished a second yellow card in the face of Christian Negouai — the referee was one of the few on the pitch who could look the 6ft 4in Frenchman in the eye — and so turned the tide irrevocably in favour of the home side. Negouai’s “crime” that compounded his earlier caution was to tug the shirt of Tugay in the way every player does at every set piece, in every game of every season. One couldn’t help but feel sorry for Negouai, the 23-year-old Martinique-born midfielder who was branded a cheat only four days previously after scoring with his hand against Rotherham. This particular Christian, it seems, has been thrown to the lions in his first two weeks at Maine Road.
He could certainly do with some aid right now The sending-off was doubly galling for the massed-ranks of noisy City fans reliving that dewy-eyed afternoon back in May 2000 when their heroes reached the top flight. Just a minute earlier Shaun Wright—Phillips, the recipient of some fine work down the left by Darren Huckerby and Ali Benarbia, had missed a golden chance to put them in front by failing to lift the ball over Brad Friedel.
That was to be the story of City’s night but at least they had the consolation, albeit scant, of looking far from out of place at the home of the mid—table Premiership side. Indeed, there were times when the quick feet and equally quick brains of Algerian Benarbia and Eyal Berkovic had Blackburn in a real tizzy A clear case of the Blues’ B&B making a dog’s breakfast of Rovers’ defence. It wasn’t until Berkovic’s lack of recent match practice iinally told that the pairing’s influence waned and Kevin Keegan decided to save the Israeli for another day by substituting him. Benarbia soon followed suit as the City chief publicly accepted that it wasn’t to be his side’s night and that more important challenges lay ahead for his mercurial, magical duo. Despite their extra man advantage, Blackburn could not rest until those two artists had stopped tattooing their pretty pictures on a lush Ewood playing surface and Graeme Souness’s side will get much easier rides than this in the top flight.
It was always a safe bet that Keegan would utilise a five-man midfield with enforcer Negouai — no stranger to getting into trouble with referees in France — deployed to ride shot— gun for Berkovic and Benarbia. What was a slight surprise, along with the City chiefs decision to ditch Nick Weaver in favour of Carlo Nash, was to play with just one striker and it worked a treat while the finely balanced tie was 11 versus 11. Huckerby’s super-charged lateral and forward movement had the Rovers back three consistently scratching their heads and with Berkovic, Benarbia and Wright-Phillips pouring through gaps to support, the early portents for a cup surprise were in place.
It is surely comforting for Keegan to know that he now has another system with which to attack First Division promotion — and one with which the Blues look extremely comfortable. It will be more than a little interesting to see what he does at Grimsby on Saturday when he expects to have 20—goal leading marksman Shaun Goater back after his groin injury but not Stuart Pearce who limped out after just four minutes with a hamstring strain.
The Bermudian might have enjoyed a night in East Lancashire where in the opening 20 minutes City had most of the play with Kevin Horlock having a shot deflected wide and Berkovic firing across the face of goal before Wright—Phil1ips’ found Friedel too big a barrier Nash saw action when he tipped the impressive David Dunn’s long-range effort over the bar but even with 10 men the Blues looked up to causing an upset when Benarbia dragged a 35th-minute effort wide of th target with Berkovic screaming for a dummy that would have given him a clear sight of goal.
Rovers were hardly sighted until first-half injury time when Nils-Eric Johansson nut-megged Gerard Wiekens and, without breaking stride, tucked a powerful shot into Nash’s bottom corner. The rest of the contest was academic with City showing plenty of neat and incisive approach work but not the finishing punch and Rovers eventually doing what they had done in the first period — scoring in time added on. Damien Johnson was the man on target but by that time the Blues had accepted their fate and their supporters were busy assailing Mr Rennie’s ears by launching into one last chorus of “you’re not fit to referee”

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