There was high drama on Saturday as Wigan took on local rivals Blackburn Rovers in a pulsating relegation six pointer. This game had just about everything – six goals, defensive mistakes, a sending off, a game changing refereeing error and a 99th minute equaliser – once again the Latics were the better team, but as usual this season they failed to take the three points.
The game started in typical fashion for Wigan as after only one minute they conceded. A high ball deceived Gary Caldwell and Ayegbeni Yakubu was left alone to lob past Ali Al-Habsi. After such a bad start the Wigan fans must have feared for the worst.
But only five minutes later Jordi Gomez rifled in an equaliser past the unsighted Paul Robinson. Wigan were dominating proceedings with Mo Diame outstanding in
Midfield and Victor Moses tormenting fullback Michel Salgado. Moses had two glorious chances, he first blazed over from a Ronnie Stam cross and then from another cross he somehow contrived to head over when it looked easier to score. If only we could take half the chances we create we could be comfortably in mid table. As in recent weeks the game’s statistics demonstrated the Latics dominance, 29 shots to Rovers 9, and 58.5 % possession to Rovers 41.5%.
Wigan had a clear penalty turned down when Moses broke into the box and Morten Gamst Pedersen chopped him down but the increasingly hapless referee Andre Marriner failed to point to the spot. Key refereeing decisions change games and Wigan are certainly not getting the rub of the green at the moment.
Some sense of justice was achieved in the 31st minute as Caldwell was allowed a free header in the box from a corner and his well placed header evaded Robinson.
The fickle Blackburn fans cheered enthusiastically for Blackburn’s goals but each time Wigan scored the Kean out chants and banners came to the fore. Whatever the merits of the manager Steve Kean, it cannot help the team’s cause when the fans are booing and chanting to sack the manager during the game.
Things got worse for Blackburn at the beginning of the second half when David Dunn was sent off for a second yellow card after fouling Diame.
Wigan were dominating possession and Rovers were having to defend deep in their own half, but the referee once again came to Rovers aid in the 59th Minute when he allowed a controversial goal to stand. Yakubu went over to take a corner with the intention of touching the ball to Pedersen, but either deliberately or inadvertently he didn’t play the ball and Pedersen dribbled the ball along the touch-line before crossing for Junior Hoilett to head home. The Referee later said he thought Yakuba touched the ball, but TV evidence shows that Marriner wasn’t even looking towards the corner flag.
A psychological setback for Wigan but they continued to press and Hugo Rodallega had another glorious opportunity to put Wigan back in front but his close range effort was saved by Robinson. However, the diminutive Albert Crusat did put the blues ahead in the 88th minute when he toe poked his shot under the slow to dive Robinson.
Wigan were on the verge of their first win since beating QPR on the 27th August. But it was not to be as in the ninth minute of stoppage time (Where did Referee Marriner get nine minutes from?) Latics gave away a penalty. Goalkeeper Robinson went up for the corner and was kicked in the head by David Jones as they both went for the ball. Yakuba calmly despatched the penalty. Wigan were denied a deserved three points and Rovers beleaguered manager was given a reprieve from a likely sacking for at least another week.
Wigan now move onto play Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in search of those elusive three points and a potential move way from the foot of the table.