Rovers end Wigans European Dream
Ewood Park, Blackburn
Steve Bruce opted to reshuffle his meagre resources for the away trip to a Blackburn side, fighting for their Premier League lives.Melchiot was absent from the team with Boyce replacing him at right back allowing Scharner to slot in at centre half. In midfield Brown dropped to the bench allowing the return of Cattermole who was captain for the day. Bruce also opted for a more attack minded line up with N'Zogbia on the wing and Rodellage
partnering Mido up front.
Latics started brightly and a shot from Valencia hit a Rovers defender, spooning up onto the bar allowing Rovers to scramble the ball clear.
That was the end of any clear cut opportunities in the first half. Blackburn bossed midfield and Latics seemed unable to pass to a member of their own team. Valencia was shorn of the quality ball he usually recieves from Melchiot and was forced to track back for the ball, allowing Rovers to regroup. On the other wing N'Zogbia broke from defence several times but his final ball was always poor.
Most of the play was in the Wigan half and Kirkland and his defence were put under pressure from every set piece, as the cumbersome but effective Samba caused all sorts of problems.
Rovers almost took the lead when a shot trickled towards the Wigan goal with Kirkland stranded, Cattermole raced back and as he was about to kick the ball away he fell over, amazingly he still managed to clear the ball away before it crossed the line.
This was a warning sign for a Wigan side, who increasingly found it difficult to play any quality football against a determined Rover's team.
Latics fell to a sucker punch on the stroke of half time. A corner from Pedersen found the diminutive Mc.Carthy who headed the ball past the stricken Kirkland.
Mido who had worked hard in the first half with little support was replaced owing to a shoulder injury, with the errant Zaki, (who came on to a mixture of boos and cheers) as a half time substitute.
Latics attacked with renewed vigour but time and again ,indiviuals would make a break and put in an awful final ball. Fifteen minutes into the second half came the game killer. A dubious free kick was awarded to Blackburn,Latics failed to mark up and Nelson flicked the ball past the stationary Kirkland.
Blackburn then sat back and were content to soak up Latics erratic attacks, on the few occasions Latics broke through notably from Boyce Valencia and Rodellaga they found Robinson in fine form. Latics were unable to assert sustained pressure and two wins out of their last thirteen games says a lot about our current form.
Bruce used all three substitutes using De Ridder and Kapo but their contributions were minimal and none existent respectively.
Another game, another defeat for Wigan Athletic. The difference this week is the Latics were outplayed by a poor Blackburn side who were short on strikers but big on commitment.
Wigan on the other hand appeared to be already on the beach and too many players were an embarassment to the shirt.
It was to be hoped that the warmer weather and a more focussed Zaki would prove the turning point but it was not to be the case. Starved of any quality ball , Zaki became an increaingly isolated figure and he and Rodellaga were virtually ineffective for the second half.
The introduction of Kapo and De Ridder exposed the lack of quality in the squad.
This was a poor performance aagaisnt a poor team who we should have beated and its difficult to see where the next win is coming from.