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Blyth Spartans 0-1 Blackburn

By Julian Shea

Carlos Villanueva
Villanueva's delightful free-kick proved to be the match-winner

Blackburn produced an efficient display to see off Blue Square North side Blyth and reach the FA Cup fourth round.

The closest Rovers came to a first-half goal was Matt Derbyshire's shot put into his own net by Andrew Leeson, but Derbyshire was off-side anyway.

Carlos Villanueva's curling free-kick in the second half finally gave Rovers the lead their dominance deserved.

Andrew Wright wasted the hosts' best chance when he volleyed Alex Gildea's cross wide in the dying stages.

Robbie Dale also tried a desperate late overhead kick in an attempt to keep alive the minnows' hopes of repeating their famous march to the fifth round of the competition in 1978.

But it was not to be for the Northumberland side and the crowd of 3,445 at Croft Park. And it is their illustrious visitors, who advance to the fourth round and a trip to Sunderland.

Early on, match-winner Villaneuva looked dangerous and tried a couple of efforts from range before threading a pass through into the path of Derbyshire as he bore down on goal, but he was denied by an expertly timed block by Kenny Boyle.

Despite dominating early possession, it was a while before Rovers got a shot on target, from Keith Treacy, but Mark Bell in the Spartans goal did well to turn it round the post.

Blackburn were comfortably on top in the first quarter but complacency almost set in when Aaron Mokoena's poor clearance went straight to Ged Dalton.

But the threat vanished the second he made contact with the ball, as the man who scored the winning goal in the second round ballooned the ball into the crowd behind Mark Bunn's goal.

This warning shot inspired Rovers to go on the attack once again, and around the half-hour mark, they thought they had taken the lead.

Treacy's shot was deflected into path of Derbyshire, whose spectacular overhead kick from the right-hand side of the box was deflected in off the head of defender Leeson.

But fortunately for Blyth, Derbyshire had been flagged offside and they stayed on level terms.

Andrew Wright
Wright missed a glorious opportunity to level the tie at the end
Blyth began the second half in confident mood, but then fell behind on the hour mark.

Jason Roberts was standing on the touchline waiting to replace Villanueva when the Chilean's persistence won him a free-kick on the right-hand side of the box.

He picked himself off the ground to curl a beautiful shot into the top left corner before being replaced.

On 75 minutes, Keith Andrews wasted a glorious chance to wrap up the win when he blasted over from close range following Alan Judge's unselfish lay-off.

With time running out, Blyth's first clear chance of the night fell to the unmarked Wright when he got on the end of Gildea's cross but his shot was way off target.

Dale's overhead kick marked Blyth's final attempt to snatch a draw, but once the ball was safely in Bunn's grasp, Blackburn's place in the fourth round was secure.

Blyth Spartans manager Harry Dunn:
"I'm so proud of the players, this has been a really fantastic experience for us.

"The supporters were fantastic, we went a goal down and the fans were even better. It was a great night for us.

"I felt at the end we might have nicked a goal, but it took a great strike to beat us from Carlos Villaneuva."

Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce:
"It was comfortable until the last few minutes, but having not converted our chances they were bound to get a chance at some stage.

"It'd have been disappointing not to win. We should've been more clinical.

"I was frustrated we didn't see the game out completely. They need the mentality to change the way they play."

Blyth Spartans: Mark Bell, Boyle, Pell, Leeson, White (Todd 63), Reay, McCabe, Williams, Gildea, Dale, Dalton (Wright 70).
Subs Not Used: Farman, Brown, Hume, Poole, Watson.

Blackburn: Bunn, Simpson, Mokoena, Khizanishvili, Olsson, Vogel, Grella (Andrews 60), Treacy, Judge, Villanueva (Roberts 59), Derbyshire (Hodge 83).
Subs Not Used: Brown, Gunning, Doran, Haworth.

Booked: Mokoena.

Goals: Villanueva 58.

Att: 3,445

Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Blyth Spartans' Marc Bell 8.31 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.
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see also
Blyth Spartans 1-0 Bournemouth
16 Dec 08 |  FA Cup

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