Football - Appleton hails perfect preparation

Blackburn manager Michael Appleton felt his side's 1-1 draw with Brighton was the perfect tester for his team ahead of their FA Cup clash at Arsenal on Saturday.

PA Sport

Scott Dann headed Blackburn in front against the run of play mid-way through the first half but a second half penalty from Spanish playmaker Vicente rescued a point for the Seagulls.

His spot-kick was the first goal Blackburn had conceded in five-and-a-half hours of playing time.

"It`s an ideal warm-up, Appleton said. "We`ll have to concede a lot of territory against Arsenal but we want to be part of an attractive tie.

"Our quality was not a good as when we played Ipswich last Saturday but, as the away side, we`re bound to be a lot happier with the result than Brighton."

Appleton described the penalty his men gave away as a "bit harsh" and suggested Rovers were unfortunate not to have been awarded a spot-kick themselves when defender Adam El-Abd appeared to handle.

"The penalty (against) was a bit harsh as the ball hit Markus Olsson`s thigh before it went to his hand," he said. "Before that, El-Abd made the best save of the night. It was very disappointing.

"But six or seven weeks ago we would have lost a game like that 4-1 or 5-1. There`s more about us now. We had to deal with a lot of balls in the box and we showed a lot of steel"

Appleton insists he is not getting too caught up with launching a play-off challenge at this stage, adding: "It would be different if we had six games to play, but we have 15 matches to go with a lot to play this month.

"We are a work in progress at the minute. Our work ethic not to lose is good and important and we have enough quality to win away games."

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