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Star duo return but Reserves slip up

Benjani 0809

Benjani 0809

Manchester City Res 1 Blackburn Res 2

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 7pm
Regional Sports Arena - Att: 299

City:  Nielsen, Logan, Garrido, Mee, Berti, Tsiaklis, Vassell, Clayton, Benjani (Poole, 61), Sturridge (Ball, 71), Weiss.
Unused subs: McDonald, T Johansen, McGivern.
Blackburn: Bunn, Jones, Simpson, Flynn, Gunning, Hodge, Doran, Marrow, J Santa Cruz, Villanueva, Treacy.

Unused subs: Marshall, Bussman, Haworth, Lowe, Morrissey.

Goals: 0-1 Villanueva (26), 1-1 Jones o.g. (52), 1-2 Villanueva pen (76).


City: Nielsen (76), Clayton (84), Weiss (87).

Blackburn: Bunn (40), Villanueva (43), Marrow (81).

Referee: M Brown.

The Match

Two more of Mark Hughes' strikers took a major step towards a first-team comeback but his old club Rovers inflicted a Barclays Reserve League North defeat on the Blues in the freezing drizzle of the Regional Sports Arena.

Benjani completed an hour of his return before trotting off while lively Danny Sturridge stayed on for 70 minutes as the fit-again pair put themselves back in the frame on the heels of Sunday hero Valeri Bojinov.

Yet the tasty combination of Zimbabwe skipper Benjani, highly-rated youngster Sturridge and former England forward Darius Vassell failed to produce even one goal for Glyn Hodges' high-flying reserve outfit.

Blackburn, who fielded a handful of experienced operators themselves, sounded a warning after 22 minutes when Carlos Villanueva directed a free kick against the foot of former Rovers goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen's post.

And it was South American import Villanueva, signed by Paul Ince but finding it hard to force his way into successor Sam Allardyce's plans, who put City behind four minutes later when he swivelled to fire home from 20 yards after a knockdown by Roque Santa Cruz's younger brother Julio.

The pair linked up well in front of a large posse of scouts, all having a last look at possible targets with the Coca Cola Football League deadline for loan signings looming on Thursday.

Blues should have equalised five minutes before half time when Vassell's blistering burst of speed took him clear only for goalkeeper Mark Bunn to race out and blatantly clatter the striker outside his penalty area.

It appeared an open-and-shut case of a red card for referee Brown, and Bunn was already removing his gloves when the official instead produced a yellow to the astonishment of everybody else in the ground.

Bizarrely, it was Blackburn who provided City's equaliser themselves after 51 minutes when right-back Phil Jones concocted an unnecessary back-pass that, maybe wind-assisted, turned into a perfect chip over the flailing Bunn.

That seemed to be that, but Rovers had the last word when Nielsen took winger Keith Treacy's legs in the penalty box and Villanueva stepped up to convert a well-placed spot kick inside the keeper's right-hand post.      

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