Jason Roberts: grabbed what would prove to be the winner
What with the relatively large number of North West teams in the Premier League nowadays, it seems these Lancashire derbies are cropping up more often than ever.
Off the back of recent games against Bolton and Preston (though admittedly the latter was a Carling Cup tie), visiting teams really haven’t had to travel that far for their respective encounters with the Latics at the DW Stadium.
Today’s test of Lancastrian grit and determination came in the form of Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Both Latics and Rovers were in need of some points to ease some pressure exerted by the ominous relegation zone, with the away side holding an ever-so-slight advantage in the Premier League table.
Well, I haven’t much opinion on what happened in the first half, because I wasn’t privileged enough to see or even hear it. Certain Twitterers suggest Charles N’Zogbia ought to have had a goal in the latter stages, and indeed he had the ball in the net only to see his strike disallowed for an infringement.
Wigan began the second half very brightly, carving out three opportunities — of varying difficulty — within minutes of the restart. None challenged the goalkeeper, however, and Blackburn would reply almost immediately in the form of Morten Gamst Pedersen, who forced Ali Al-Habsi into a fantastic reaction save on 49 minutes.
Latics kept up the pressure, and Mo Diame almost finished after a decent build up, but didn’t count on Paul Robinson. This period of play was more like the Wigan side of recent times, in more ways than one. You see, for all the good forward movement and domination of possession, they’re always susceptible at the back – a fact evidenced in our goal difference this year (and last, come to think of it). I probably don’t need to tell you it’s the worst in the league.
Our defensive frailties were brought to the fore on 58 minutes, as Wigan fell pray to another set play, almost completely against the current run of play. So much so, in fact, that you almost expected the visitors to get an equaliser sooner rather than later to match Pedersen’s strike… but it just didn’t happen. Instead, Jason Roberts managed to grab an inevitable goal against his former club to put Blackburn 2-0 ahead, and Wigan found themselves in the strange situation of being thoroughly under the cosh whilst at the same time dominating play.
Frustrating indeed, that although Latics got one back via a wonderful free kick from Charles N’Zogbia, they could not snaffle a late, and perhaps deserved, equaliser.
I couldn’t fully comment on whether the scoreline is an injustice, reasons for which I have already provided, but I would suggest Wigan played well enough in the second half to warrant a point. Had this game been played at the DW, perhaps we would have managed that and more, but these away games are slowly becoming ever more difficult for us to grind out the points.
Always 1-1 at Ewood Park? Well, it should have been today.