Birmingham 0-1 Blackburn: Trusty own goal sees Rovers edge FA Cup replay
Blackburn Rovers will travel to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup after a 1-0 win over Birmingham in extra-time at St Andrew’s.
On-loan Arsenal defender Auston Trusty diverted Sammie Szmodics’ 100th-minute cross into his own net after Birmingham had dominated the second half, with Rovers goalkeeper Aynsley Pears thwarting Blues numerous times.
There were five changes to each side from Saturday’s exciting 2-2 draw at Ewood Park as Ben Brereton Diaz started for the visitors despite being heavily linked with a pre-contract agreement with Villarreal.
Birmingham had secured a replay through Jordan James’ stoppage time equaliser after Reda Khadra’s third-minute opener.
Joe Rankin-Costello put Rovers ahead after Bradley Dack’s leveller and it was the midfielder who had the first opening of the replay when his free-kick was comfortably saved by Neil Etheridge.
Saturday’s match was marred by allegations of racism towards Blues keeper Etheridge and the Philippines international had to repeat the heroics he displayed against Forest Green in the last round when Harry Pickering’s shot was deflected goalwards.
The 32-year-old adjusted quickly to prevent Pickering’s effort and his opposite number Pears also had to be alert on the half-hour mark.
The returning Daniel Ayala stuck out a foot to block Emmanuel Longelo’s cross and the stand-in stopper made a fantastic reaction save to prevent Blackburn going behind.
Dack had a second chance after half-time when he lifted Rankin-Costello’s pinpoint cross over the crossbar.
Longelo continued to cause problems down the left and his cross picked out Scott Hogan but the Blues top scorer could not convert from close range.
Pears was proving to be a thorn in Birmingham’s side and came to the rescue with his feet when he saved Dion Sanderson’s downward header from Hannibal Mejbri’s corner
Rovers came closest when Brereton Diaz left Maxime Colin on the turf before cutting back for Dack, who hit the outside of the post.
John Eustace’s men pushed for a winner through Kevin Long, whose effort was comfortably saved by Pears, before Lukas Jutkiewicz was introduced.
He was next to be denied by Pears and the keeper made a smart double stop before recovering to save Tahith Chong’s follow-up.
But in the 10th minute of extra-time, Szmodics’ cross hit the leg of the unfortunate Trusty to ensure a first fifth-round appearance in six years for Blackburn.