Football: It's All Dwight as Yorke Rescues 'Em; Blackburn 3 Sunderland 3

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Byline: Steve BATES

THEY STAYED away in their thousands - but Blackburn's cup-stressed fans missed the most excitement Ewood Park has seen all season as Dwight Yorke's injury-time equaliser dragged Rovers back from the dead.

Sunderland might be struggling to build a credible survival plan in the Premiership but their fifth-round number was in the contraption that doubles for the famous purple bag as they led 3-1 with 20 minutes to go.

But in an amazing finale goal heroes Andy Cole and Yorke struck to give Blackburn a chance they hardly deserved after their second shabby cup display of the week.

Only 14,315 punters turned up to watch an end-to-end fourth-round tie that oozed excitement rather than quality.

But Rovers boss Graeme Souness didn't care about that last night as he gratefully accepted a second bite of the cherry at the Stadium of Light.

Souness was about to turn all his attentions for the remainder of the season to the Premiership when the pounds 9million duo signed from Manchester United conjured some late drama.

With almost the last kick of the game Lucas Neill released a trio of Blackburn players to mount one desperate, last raid on Thomas Sorensen.

Yorke took charge of the marauding trio, made sure the ball was under control and drove his shot confidently under Sorensen to send Rovers fans wild.

Yawning gaps among the seating told it's own tale of how Blackburn punters viewed this tie, but you couldn't blame them for staying away in their droves - both Premiership clashes this season have ended goalless.

And after the agony of their semi-final defeat by Sir Alex Ferguson's stars their loyalty was tested to the limit by the prospect of a grim battle with a team whose only concern is survival.

Cup football, however, clearly suits Sunderland better than the grind of the Premiership and the way they sprang from the traps to put Rovers under the cosh gave their suffering fans some light relief.

Blackburn contributed to Sunderland's flying start, though, as they showed clear signs of a hangover from the midweek lesson handed out by Manchester United.

Sleepy and lethargic, Blackburn could hardly complain when Marcus Stewart cleverly put the Wearsiders a goal up.

It proved a joyous moment for Wilkinson and justifiable reward for the early enterprise of his men - but, predictably, delight was only fleeting.

After Michael Gray robbed David Thompson, Sunderland moved the ball to Michael Proctor who picked out Stewart in acres of space. …