Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers traded slightly-scrappy corner-kick goals in a fair-old ding-dong cup tie
Well that's all from me, for now. Thanks for your emails and your company, and have a fabulous rest-of-weekend. If you'd like more, you may consider checking out Niall McVeigh's FA Cup clockwatch, which is live right now. Bye!
A lot was said before the game about the character and spirit of this group, and I thought they were excellent today against a world-class team. They keep on getting better and they keep learning and wanting to improve. Nothing but pride today.
I think Stubbs has got to be disappointed with his performance today, to be honest.
And Ray Stubbs doesn't ask him about the acidental substitution. Sack him now! Or have a stern word, at the very least. Pellegrini doesn't say very much, but he is nice about Blackburn.
I think it was a very close game. They play here with a lot of intensity at home. I absolutely sure if they play in the same way in the Championship they will be in the best position.
The first impact of that result is that Manchester City will be forced to cancel their planned warm-weather break in the UAE, as they now have an FA Cup replay in the middle of it.
The big question at the end of that match, though, is: did City really accidentally take off the wrong man? We need answers!
An excellent performance from Blackburn, who had several impressive performers: Cairney, Williamson, Dann, Gestede and Taylor all did well, I think, and nobody played badly. Credit too to Gary Bowyer, for his entirely sensible but still admirably aggressive double substitution with 10 minutes to play. The game took a little while to get going, but the last hour or so was very fine entertainment indeed.
90+4 mins: Peeeeep! The referee ends the game and we're replay-bound.
90+3 mins: Campbell pokes the ball to Rhodes, whose shot from the edge of the area flies high.
90+2 mins: City have done a bit of stoppage-time threatening, but Robinson now has the ball in his safe, plump hands.
90+1 mins: There will be four minutes of stoppage time here. At least.
88 mins: Oooooh! Blackburn cross from the right, and Lescott just beats Rhodes to the ball. City bring Zabaleta on for Silva. And James Thomas has the final word on the FA Cup ball: "Can we agree that, whatever the heck that color is, it’s hideous and should be shelved ASAP." Yes, I think that is the only appropriate conclusion.
87 mins: Ooooooh! Campbell pulls the ball back to Cairney, whose left-footed shot curls a bit, but not enough to creep in at the back stick.
86 mins: DJ Campbell is basically minding his own business when Boyata arrives and takes his legs away. A clear booking, his second of the match.
85 mins: City attack, and every player is marked except for Milner, who has the entire left half of the pitch to himself.
83 mins: And a chance for Blackburn! Rhodes runs down the right, and DJ Campbell heads wide from 18 yards. Pantilimon had it covered, to be fair.
82 mins: A great chance for City! It comes from Spurr's long throw at the other end, from which they break whippet-style, with Jesús Navas eventually thrashing the ball wide when well placed left of goal, 15 yards out.
81 mins: Jordan Rhodes is on, with Rudy Gestede coming off having played pretty well, and DJ Campbell replaces Marshall. Blackburn want to win this here, which given City's record at home this season seems reasonable.
80 mins: City are doing some proper pressurising, without quite creating a great chance. The move ends with Touré's 18-yard half-volley flying over the bar.
77 mins: Jesús Navas spins, keeps spinning and then thumps a low shot from 25 yards straight towards the far corner, where a diving Robinson touches it to safety.
76 mins: According to BT Sport City were intending to take off Dzeko but got their numbers mixed up and accidentally replaced the wrong striker. Surely they just made that up?
75 mins: Substitution for City – Negredo is off, and Jesús Navas is on.
72 mins: Blackburn's tactics appear to be to allow no City player any space within 40 yards of their goal, except for Milner, who can have as much as he likes. It seems to be working OK. Dzeko thrashes a 30-yard thundercracker straight at Robinson.
69 mins: Marshall's extremely optimistic 30-yard volley on the half-turn flies over the bar, whereupon City run down the other end and Negredo misses two half-chances in close succession. "The true connoisseur knows that the best-tasting mangoes are of the Alphonso variety, which grows in India and ripens in springtime," writes Danyal Dhondy. "Modest in size (compared to its African cousin), the Alphonso has a velvety yellow skin, which acquires brown blotches and becomes soft to the touch when it ripens. Slicing it open, you are hit with the double whammy of a fresh, honeyed aroma, and the deep, rich sunset colour of the flesh. Perhaps the folks at Nike know their mangoes after all?" Crikey, it is a mango ball!
66 mins: A proper FA Cup tie, this: chances, action and a slightly disappointing attendance.
65 mins: Substitutions: Joshua King replaces Lee Williamson for Blackburn, while Yaya Touré is on for City, replacing Fernandinho.
64 mins: Now City miss a sitter! Silva chips the ball up to Negredo, who heads the ball down to Dzeko, whose hard shot from the edge of the area is palmed away by Robinson straight to Negredo, whose header goes wide.
62 mins: Great chance for Blackburn! Gestede does well to keep possession on the right, pops the ball to the nearest team-mate and his low, hard cross finds Taylor, whose shot under pressure flies wide.
61 mins: Penalty area ping-ping! Caused by another ludicrous Spurr throw, but then City break, Silva passes Negredo into space and he need only scoop the ball around one defender to leave Dzeko with a tap-in! He hits the ball straight into the defender.
58 mins: Another set-piece chance for Blackburn! Spurr's enormous throw-in flies all the way to Tom Cairney at the far post, which astonishes him as much as anyone else and the ball comes off his chest and bounces wide.
55 mins: Another scrappy corner-goal! The ball comes in from the right, Gestede's header is powerful, but right at Pantilimon, who drops the ball onto his toe, from where it rolls to Dann, whose finish is straightforward.
53 mins: Milner is now popping up on the right wing, whereupon a cross from the left causes Blackburn all sorts of problems, but amid a forest of swinging boots in the penalty area the one that gets the good contact is a defender's.
50 mins: Manchester City win a corner, and the referee gives a goal kick. Over on BT Sport the linesman is getting it in the neck from Michael Owen.
47 mins: Blackburn win an early free-kick, as Fernandinho takes out Lee Williamson, but nothing much comes from it. "Thank you Dan Lucas for adding some much needed sense to a debate about the Stereophonics," gurgles Matt Dony. "They were great for one album, and could have been so much more! If 'Local Boy In The Photograph' doesn't move you, then you're dead inside. Unfortunately, if 'Mr Writer' does move you, then you have no taste and I don't know how to talk to you."
46 mins: Manchester City do the honours as the second half gets under way.
A decent half of football from Blackburn, ruined, obviously, by its final moments. City struggled to find any space in central positions, and were forced to attack down the left, from where their delivery wasn't up to much. To then concede a borderline-offside goal from a corner in the 45th minute, well, that's got to burn. I can't really blame Grant Hanley – I'd want to give someone a shove as well.
"Oh lordy that's a miserable thing to read," writes Nick Evans of Nike's description of their FA Cup ball (11 mins). "I admit that I use the word 'colourway' in my job, but only when I'm talking to wholesalers, and in general, they start it and I have to grit my teeth. 'Colour' is a perfectly good word on it's own.
"But my real objection was to the use of the word 'athletes.' Athletes run about quickly, in the main. And those that aren't good at running throw stuff, unless they have a note from their mum. People who play football are called 'footballers' and although they also run about a lot (some more than others, admittedly) running isn't the thing that makes them a footballer. It'd be more succinct as:
"The colour and design of the ball makes it easier to see in flight, so the footballers can see it more easily"
but better still
"It's a bright colour so the players can see it easily"
and best of all
"Isn't it bloody obvious why it's a bright colour?"
45+2 mins: Peeeeeep! The half-time whistle blows with City slightly fortunately ahead. And Blackburn team-mates Grant Hanley and Chris Taylor have a little ding-dong as they head to the tunnel.
45+1 mins: City have spent the single minute of indicated stoppage time celebrating, so we'll get a bonus 30 seconds.
The corner comes in deep, Dzeko's header is missing goal by a couple of yards but Negredo happens to be standing in its way and thumps the ball into the net.
45 mins: City win a corner now, Scott Dann heading Milner's cross behind.
43 mins: Dzeko's deflected shot loops into the air, suddenly presenting Negredo with a headed chance. Just to make sure he wins the ball he gives the nearest defener a decent shove, and the referee blows his whistle. "it's much more a Charentais melon color if you ask me," insists Conall Hogan of the match ball.
40 mins: A decent chance for Blackburn, with a cross from the left that is too high for Gestede, who gets close enough to put off whoever it was that was arriving at pace behind him. A moment later, Chris Taylor slams a 20-yarder high and wide.
37 mins: Tommy Spurr places a hand on Negredo's shoulder, Negredo collapses to the floor, no penalty is awarded.
35 mins: …and no sooner do I write that than City go and create the very best chance of the game, which Silva blazes over the bar from 12 yards.
34 mins: Clichy does well on the left, but then crosses towards nobody in particular. Still, it currently smells like there's a City goal a-comin'.
32 mins: Dan Lucas provides a Stereophonics career summary: "Yes they spent a long time as purveyors of meat and potatoes brown Dad rock that would shame Paul Weller, but their début Word Gets Around still stands up as a quite wonderful album with genuinely clever lyrics," he insists. "The new one's not bad either. It's just that 90% of their songs in between were woeful." The first album passed me by, I fear, leaving me to experience nothing but the 90%.
29 mins: Blackburn continue to attack fairly well, but their delivery from wide areas hasn't been good enough to trouble Pantilimon. At the other end, the ball is slid across the edge of the penalty area to Negredo, whose phenomenal first touch beats two defenders but takes the ball too close to Robinson, who gathers.
28 mins: City's first actual proper shot of the day comes from Fernandinho, whose 25-yarder is low, hard and straight at Robinson.
26 mins: Paul Robinson does some work, coming out well to collect Milner's cross from the left.
26 mins: Let's try to clear this whole mango/papaya business up for good. Here's some photographic evidence. Can we agree that the ball has been hopelessly misnamed? And also that it doesn't look very good, and is by no means as visible from distance as a white one?
24 mins: City attack now, and Clichy backheels the ball to Milner, who is lurking offside.
22 mins: Another corner, and Dann winns the header again, but the ball loops harmlessly into the air and Pantilimon gathers.
21 mins: Blackburn continue to attack, and Nastasic is booked after conceding a free-kick on the right wing. The ball is sent into the area, where Lescott concedes a corner.
19 mins: Scott Dann wins the header from the corner, and Pantilimon makes the day's first save!
18 mins: Blackburn attack, and Taylor storms forward from the centre circle and unleashes a shot from 25 yards that is deflected wide.
14 mins: For the third time in as many minutes, Manchester City run out of pitch. Still, they are starting to attack.
11 mins: Milner overhits a pass to Clichy and a good City move comes to an end. Lots of people are asking about the orange ball in use today. So, in summary: it's not orange, it's mango. The manufacturers, who don't deserve a namecheck because the ball they've made is too unfriendly on the eye, say:
The exclusive colorway enhances visibility and incorporates graphics to generate maximum visual contrast in-flight helping athletes see the ball earlier, react faster and make split-second game changing decisions
So now you know. There's nothing mango about the colour, though. Papaya, perhaps.
8 min: Rudy Gestede breaks into City's penalty area, but a) has absolutely no support from anyone; and b) fouled someone anyway.
5 min: I don't remember the TV camera angle at Ewood Park being quite as precipitous as this. We're peering down on the players from such an enormous height. Here's a screengrab:
3 mins: A decent start for Blackburn, who have allowed City just a handful of touches so far, though they're currently knocking the ball around their back-line.
1 min: We're off! Blackburn get the action under way.
Talking of music, here's BT Sport commentator Darren Fletcher's opening gambit: "Blackburn, a place with 4,000 holes according to John Lennon but it's where the FA Cup starts…" Now I've not spent a lot of time in Blackburn, but is its greatest claim to fame genuinely that some people not from Blackburn once suggested there was an absence of something there? Anyway, Fletcher soon shows some charming diplomacy when suggesting that Paul Robinson "still has to play himself back into fitness", which is I think a very generous way of putting it.
The players are tunnelled up, and action is but moments away. Gird your loins!
Talking of Gary Bowyer speaking, here's the highlight of his interview in today's Telegraph:
My daughter has just been to see the Stereophonics. It was a proud moment. Yes! It’s been passed on down! Music helps me sometimes get away from football. I grew up with my mum and dad listening to Motown. I had a little bit of the Hacienda! The people I have surrounded myself with have always been into music.
The Stereophonics? I mean, they're OK, but are you really sure that's what you wanted to pass down to your children? (chokes on lunch)
The Blackburn manager has been speaking to BT Sport, and this is (some of) what he said:
We've played a lot of football over the last couple of weeks. He's been carrying a little niggle so it was an opportunity to give him a little bit of a breather," says Gary Bowyer. "If I was leaving him out to not get him cup tied then he wouldn't be on the bench. I'm under no instructions to sell him from the owners and that's what we continue to do.
On Paul Robinson: Last year was a near-death experience for him and we're delighted that he's back in this position. We've said to the players, go and enjoy it, measure yourself against some of the world's best. We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain today.
Manuel Pellegrini's introduction to the FA Cup comes in the shape of a potentially tricky tie at the Championship's 10th-best side. Blackburn's form is curious, coming as it does with a curiously repeating pattern. Going backwards in time from the present day – which is a skill Blackburn fans would probably dearly love to have – it reads: won-lost-drawn; won (a slight anomaly there); won-drawn-lost; won-drawn-lost; won-drawn-lost.
Pellegrini has named a strong team, and Blackburn have left top scorer Jordan Rhodes on the bench, so all logic dictates that the Premier League's second-placed side are going to do a proper steamroller job here. Interesting aside: Paul Robinson, or the ghost of Christmas future as Joe Hart might call him, makes his first start for over a year after having an operation in April to deal with a blood clot in a lung.
So, without further ado except for a tiny little fanfare – because they're worth it – your matchday teams!
Blackburn: Robinson, Henley, Dann, Grant Hanley, Spurr, Cairney, Lowe, Taylor, Williamson, Marshall, Gestede. Subs: Kilgallon, King, Campbell, Rhodes, Eastwood, Rochina, Judge.
Man City: Pantilimon, Boyata, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy, Milner, Fernandinho, Javi García, Silva, Negredo, Dzeko. Subs: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Jesús Navas, Touré, Lopes.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Simon will be here from 12.15pm GMT with all the team news and build-up ahead of the third round FA Cup match between Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. If you get here first, here's the Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini's spirit of football lecture:
David Bernstein, the former Football Association chairman, accused managers of setting a "terrible example" to players by their conduct during games, while Chelsea's Oscar was criticised by his own manager, José Mourinho, for diving during the win at Southampton on New Year's Day. The Portuguese agreed with the Brazilian's booking by the referee, Martin Atkinson. Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj was shown a yellow card on the same day, during the 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur.
"I think it's very difficult to be a referee," Pellegrini said. "The players play too quickly, the players are always trying to cheat because football is cheating. They are always trying to take advantage for their teams and of course nobody likes when referee blows against your team, but a lot of the time it can be to give you an advantage."
David Moyes defended Januzaj, who was booked after a tussle with Danny Rose, the United manager pointing to statistics that show the 18-year-old is the league's most fouled player. "I think the other night was the wrong decision," he said. "More people are tackling him than any other player. I've been saying that for five or six weeks. It gives you an idea of the ability the boy has got. But if you were going to have any sympathy with him at all, these are the reasons why."
Moyes does not want video technology introduced as a means of eradicating diving. "I wouldn't want videos to come into the game," he said. "I don't think referees would want that either. I think goal-line technology is a good situation. From what I've seen at the moment it's working well when it's had to work.