21/03/20008 3 pm
Another game another sending off, this one however didn`t have the same happy ending as against Bolton as Wigan saved up one of their worst performances under the Steve Bruce era for the game at Ewood.
The only change to the team from last week was predictably Kilbane replacing the suspended Koumas and Bent and Agahahowa stepping up to the bench.
Blackburn started the brighter and Kirkland had to move smartly off his line to collect a ball.
In doing so he fell awkwardly and this resulted in intensive treatment to his lower back.
Whether he was fit to continue was up for discussion amongst the Wigan fans in the Lower Darwen end and these fears were almost immediately justified when he palmed at a shot which had to be quickly cleared by the defence.
A couple of minutes later an almost carbon copy save saw the ball fall to Santa Cruz for a simple tap in.
Latics responded positively and a clear ball through top Heskey had him bearing down on Friedel only for the cumbersome Samba to foul him in the box.
A penalty and a red card for Samba followed and King stepped up to hit the ball just out of the reach of the diving Friedel to equalise for the Latics.
This should have been the sign for Latics to step up the pace but like last week`s game the ten men were dominating possession passing Latics off the park.
Latics by contrast seemed unable to string two passes together and once again were reliant on the creativity of Melchiot to Valencia to provide any attacking options.
Valencia however chose today to have an off day and the result was precious quality balls for the front two.
Heskey and King toiled manfully but with the former looking unfit and the latter not being up to premiership quality we didn`t look like scoring and were left to long range efforts which were easily dealt with by Friedel.
Blackburn looked most likely to score and Kirkland redeemed himself temporarily when he saved well from Santa Cruz.
There was plenty of scrappy goalmouth scrambles in the Wigan penalty area and Scharner and Boyce had to be alert to clear the danger. In the 40th minute a brilliant tackle by Edman took the ball off Robert`s foot when he seemed certain to score.
Edman landed badly and an audible sound was heard. The referee and Roberts immediately signalled for the stretcher and Edman was carried off in a great amount of pain.
Latics reorganised by bringing Taylor on and sending Killer back to left back but on the stroke of half time the ball fell to Roberts who fired past the advancing Kirkland who seemed unable to get down to block the shot possibly due to his injury .
The second half started much the same as the first, with Latics passing the ball around but seemingly devoid of how to break Blackburn down.
Palacios had an off day apart forma couple of runs and one shot and Brown seemed to be living on the edge of a booking which would mean a two match ban.
It was no surprise therefore when the yellow card was produced for what seemed about the tenth foul from him.
Steve Bruce responded by calling Bent back from his warm up but he took what seemed like an eternity to get ready and whilst Latics were waiting to replace King, King lost possession and Blackburn broke for Santa Cruz to fire past the hapless Kirkland.
Bent immediately looked sharper and a different class than King linking up quickly with Heskey and starting to trouble the Blackburn defence.
The best chance however fell to Brown whose rasping drive was well saved by Friedel.
Latics huffed and puffed but Blackburn seemed to be totally in control and a clumsy tackle by Palacios resulted in a second yellow which means we are devoid of both our centre midfielders for the trip to Pompey next week.
The result was no more than Latics deserved, the suspensions to Koumas, Brown and Palacios , the injury to Edman and the questions over Kirkland`s fitness mean that our resources will be severely stretched next week.
Too many players had an off day and had given up at 3-1 and all the fight of the last few weeks seemed to be absent except from as few players. Our resources will be severely stretched next week.
Difficult to find one to be honest but Schanrer gets it for at least trying for the 90 minutes.
Not sure what else he could have done. He needs to start with Heskey and Bent next week
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