A tough away day for the Latics saw them edged out, in the end, by two goals to one. In all fairness, though this was one of those games that could have been a vital away point, Blackburn simply had the better of a game that seemed to play out in phases.
For all the commentators’ praise of Blackburn’s bustling first half performance, things were pretty even going into the half time break. If it weren’t for a momentary brainfreeze by league débutante Vladimir Stojkovic and a well-placed strike from Pedersen, it could so easily have been 0-0 on 45, but on balance I think 1-1 would have been more of a fair score.
Both sides had decent chances, Rodallega forcing a second-minute save from Robinson and Blackburn hitting the post in the first fifteen minutes. Things continued in much the same vein, with Wigan having the most shots but, crucially, not that many challenging the Blackburn keeper.
They finally did so on 56 minutes, Caldwell bagging his first goal for the Latics with a header slotted past Robinson’s left hand. And they looked to be on the up — a renewed vigour saw them pressure the opposition goal, but not for long. Rovers found their feet again and soon grabbed a deserved goal that put them 2-1 up with less than fifteen minutes to play. Kalinic found some space from a corner and found the back of the net in a rather similar fashion to Caldwell twenty minutes earlier.
From then on, it was always going to be difficult, and though Martinez looked to press for a second by bringing on Jason Scotland and Scott Sinclair, Wigan had no real chances after that point. In fact, the 15 minutes seemed more like five as hardly anything at all seemed to happen – things just petered out, which suited the home side down to the ground.
A performance, dare we say, typical of Latics’ season – solid in parts and sometimes very good, but just lacking that extra something to grab points. In games past, we have seen a crucial mistake from a goalkeeper (Burnley away) or defender (Wolves away), a pivotal sending off (Chelsea home) or a marginally below average opposition performance (Villa away, Sunderland home) push Wigan over the line.
Hopefully with the signing of Marco Ruben, a striker of international standard, Wigan will find that bit more spark to finish off games for themselves a lot more often. Will he be ready for Saturday’s showdown with Everton? Probably not, but let’s hope home advantage will see the crowd be a crucial twelfth man.