Big Sam relieved as Rovers go through

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Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce admitted he was a relieved man after seeing his side survive a late FA Cup scare at non-league Blyth.

The Barclays Premier League outfit seemed to be heading for a comfortable victory when Carlos Villanueva's sumptuous 59th-minute free-kick finally gave them the lead at Croft Park, but five minutes from time Blyth substitute Andrew Wright fired inches wide with Allardyce fearing the worst.

The former Newcastle and Bolton manager said: "I thought it was a goal, to be honest with you. But from our point of view, we should have seen the game off a lot sooner than that and nearly paid a heavy price for not doing it."

He added: "I thought 'this looks like he only had to side-foot this in'. It was a little harder to miss than score.

"He did have an open goal to put it in and put it wide, and that's their chance gone. The chance came and it went, and they will probably think 'if only' now."

Allardyce rested his entire first team for the third-round clash with the Blue Square North minnows, whose FA Cup tradition includes a fifth-round replay against Wrexham in front of 42,167 at Newcastle's St James' Park in 1978.

While his under-studies dominated the game, they were unable to make their greater quality tell until Villanueva intervened, and then struggled to kill off their doughty opponents.

However, Rovers ultimately saw out a tense conclusion to extend their unbeaten run under their new manager to four games and book a fourth-round trip to Sunderland.

Allardyce said: "What we have seen - and I am glad we are not one of the big boys who have gone under, of course - is a lot of shocks.

"I saw Aston Villa struggle immensely against a Gillingham side on Sunday, and Hartlepool beating Stoke just down the road here was a big shock result, and Torquay beating Blackpool and Southend drawing with Chelsea, so there have been some big results there."

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