Sunderland 0 Blackburn Rovers 0

A dour affair at the Stadium of Light ended with honours even as Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers played out a no-score bore draw.

Neither side ever really got to grips with the game, although both had opportunities to break the deadlock.

But you get the feeling they wouldn't have been too heartbroken had their FA Cup come run come to an end here, lending ammunition to the argument that the grand old competition has lost its romance.

It is sad to say, but in a world where the Premier League is king, the cup seemed little more than an irritation to the two top-flight outfits.

That neither team was willing to go all out for the win was disappointing for the 22,634 fans who took in the clash, but the real tragedy for the supporters is that they will have to endure it all again when the tie is replayed on February 4.

Highlights were few and far between, although Rovers did have the better of the chances in the opening 45 minutes.

The visitors' first opportunity came as early as the second minute when Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner was headed narrowly wide by Roque Santa Cruz.

After that scare for the hosts the game drifted aimlessly, neither team seeming to have the ability or the inclination to liven it up.

That almost changed on 20 minutes when the Blackburn defence was caught napping.

Sunderland winger Carlos Edwards knocked the ball into the area and David Healy stole in front of his marker to fire at goal.

Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal got down to save, but was unable to hold on to the ball.

Healy followed up but the England keeper narrowed the angle to make yet another block, the ball going out for a corner.

Robinson's opposite number, Marton Fulop, was called into action six minutes later, saving bravely at the feet of Santa Cruz.

The hosts had claims for a penalty waved away just before the half-hour mark when Phil Bardsley went down under a challenge from Ryan Nelsen, although replays showed the Sunderland man had gone to ground too easily.

Another lull in attacking played followed, although Rovers could have gone ahead right on half-time. Pascal Chimbonda blocked Pedersen's shot on the line, and just seconds later Santa Cruz fired wide of the target.

Things didn't improve after the break with chances in front of goal at a premium. Rovers saw a good opportunity to open their account go begging just before the hour, Pedersen connecting with a deep cross, but the Norwegian's half-volley flew across the face of the goal and out for a goal-kick.

As time wore on it looked as though the hosts might nick it, but Michael Chopra's goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Then, in the dying minutes, Chimbonda fired wide from inside the area.

And so it ended 0-0, the draw being a fair result for two teams, who never looked like they wanted it enough.