Friend is a Foe, Rovers 2-1 Latics
Frustrating isn`t the word to describe Latics defeat at Blackburn yesterday and Roberto Martinez must be absolutely livid with match referee Kevin Friend who ruled out a perfectly good Charles N`Zogbia goal for no apparent reason.
In a game that Latics dominated possession with their controlled football it`s easy to see why sections of the Blackburn support want a change of management at Ewood Park, under Allardyce, Rovers football isn`t just ugly, it`s almost non-existent.
Jordi Gomez was recalled to the starting line-up after being 'rested` last weekend at Fulham and his link-up play all afternoon was excellent, midway through the first half Gomez received the ball and threaded a peach of a through pass that split the Rovers defence setting up Rodallega. The Colombian striker ran through and hit a left footed shot from 20 yards that produced a great save from Robinson.
With Alcaraz and Caldwell looking solid and Thomas like a rock in front of them the first half saw some sublime passages of play from the Latics and the 63% of possession tells its own story.
At times though the Latics can over elaborate and getting men into the box at the right time is something that needs to be worked on, one time that they did get that support in the box saw N`Zogbia pounce on a parried shot, under pressure from Pedersen, N`Zogbia stayed strong and side footed home with his right foot.
Kevin Friend inexplicably blew for a free kick to Blackburn and disallowed the goal to the astonishment of N`Zogbia, Martinez and three thousand travelling Latics fans.
The second half started the same as the first had gone with Latics playing the controlled football, Rodallega burst into the Blackburn box and an arm was across his back, admittedly Hugo went down easily but in fairness free kicks had been given all afternoon for a lot less contact, no penalty though and Rodallega told to play on.
Momo Diame was the next Latics player to test the Rovers defence, going past three defenders on a mazy run before hitting a low drive into the side netting.
Then disaster on 58 minutes, Gomez, driving the Latics forward had a pass intercepted by a clear handball, not given, the ball broke to Blackburn with Brett Emerton charging up Latics left, in slid Figueroa to put the ball into touch, the ref gave a free-kick, up stepped Pedersen and hit a left footed cross that sailed into the far top corner of Al-Habsi`s goal.
Nine minutes later, a punt up field by Blackburn fell to Emerton again, he swung over a ball from the right and there was Jason Roberts to poke the ball home from what looked a clear off-side position, replays appear to confirm this but the score stood at 2-0 nonetheless.
The Latics rallied and pulled a goal back on 74 minutes when Gomez was fouled 30 yards out, up stepped Charles N`Zogbia to plant the resultant free kick into the back of the net.
With subs made Latics had an attacking line-up for the last ten minutes of Gomez, N`Zogbia, Rodallega, Boselli and Di Santo but they also lost a little of their shape and the game petered out.
Latics played well, took the game to Blackburn, looked the better side and should have got something from the game, on another day the decisions could have gone our way, Mr Friend was definitely a foe.
Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Gamst Pedersen, Jones, Emerton; B. Diouf (Dunn, 46), E. Diouf (Chimbonda, 85), Benjani (Roberts, 32)
Subs: Bunn, Kalinic, Hoilett, Goulon
Al Habsi; Gohouri, G. Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa; Thomas, Diame (Di Santo, 81); Stam (Boselli, 68), Gomez, N'Zogbia, Rodallega
Subs: Kirkland, Watson, Moses, S. Caldwell, Cleverley