A high scoring local derby saw Wigan defeated by a score of 4-3 as their championship campaign came to an end prior to the play offs.
Wigan manager Uwe Rosler opted to rest seven players from the side that defeated Birmingham on Tuesday and lined up with an usual back three plus two wing backs with left back Crainey operating on the right and Espinoza coming on the left with a welcome recall for Ramis at centre back . In midfield it was all change with recalls for McEachran, Collison and up front for McClean and Maynard
If the team looked unfamiliar , it played even more so in the first forty five minutes in that despite some neat passing mainly orchestrated by McEachran, Blackburn seeking a last gasp play off place, attacked at will with Crainey coming in for the most work as the pacey King tore into him at every opportunity looking to create chances for Gestede and top scorer Rhodes.
Wigan struggled to counter this pressure with Caldwell and Ramis failing to strike up an effective centre half partnership .the first clear chance fell to Rovers when King outpaced Crainey and his cross found Rhodes but the shot was blocked by Ramis and Wigan scrambled the ball clear.
There was little respite from the pressure and Collison who struggled in the midfield battle lost possession in midfield following a poor pass from Kiernan and the loanee from West Ham was found lacking the pace as he tried to track back and challenge the Blackburn player of the season Cairney who continued unopposed and fired a low shot into the bottom right hand corner of the Wigan goal and the hosts were deservedly ahead.
Wigan struggled to create any clear cut chances and with Maynard looking isolated up front and Waghorn starved of possession on the right it was left to McClean to try and create the opportunities for the away side but despite all his good work the final ball was all too often wasted.
It seems goals are like buses in that you wait for one and then three come at once, as Wigan equalised in surreal fashion when Waghorn corner was headed against the woodwork by Maynard and the ball came back to Ramis who headed the ball unchallenged into an empty net with the Rovers fans convinced the goal had been disallowed.
Another minute, another goal, this time for Rovers when Gestede who had received a presentation before the game as the Championship player of the month neatly placed the ball; past Carson to give Rovers a lead they never relinquished.
Wigan showing spirit which has been lacking in certain games recently pushed forwards but a long range shot from Maynard was comfortably saved buy Robinson.
Rovers thought that they had increased their lead when Rhodes rose above the static Wigan defence and headed into the net but was perhaps harshly ruled offside.
Rhodes looked sharp all afternoon, being in receipt of some quality ball from his midfield support and tested Carson again, forcing the Wigan keeper into a brilliant one handed save.
The respite was only temporary however when Gestede supported another Rover’s break by man of the match Cairney and headed unchallenged into the Wigan net which was justification for Rover’s dominance.
Wigan never gave up and Maynard had a powerful goal bound shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Hanley
Things turned a bit heated towards the end of the half when McClean took exception to a challenge on Waghorn by Hanley which resulted in a booking for the Rover’s player and for McClean who could be considered lucky to escape a red for his reaction
Half time say the injured Ramis replaced by Barnett and immediately Wigan’s defence had a more solid look to it although the dangerous King had the first chance forcing the bust Carson into yet another good save,
Wigan slowly began to pressurise the Rovers backline with man of the match Espinoza pushing forwards down the left at will and a good chance was wasted by Waghorn whose effort went over the bar.
Rovers continued to attack with pace and flair and from a free kick, Gestede beat the Wigan defence but his header came back off the bar with Carson well beaten
McClean received reward for a fine afternoon’s work when he seized on a loose ball and powerfully volleyed home from inside the penalty area to make it three two and send the large travelling away support behind that goal wild with delight.
Cairney, the outstanding player on the pitch tested Carson again, with a powerful shot which was seemingly going into the goal before the keeper managed to finger tip it over the bar and the Wigan keeper had to be alert to save well from Gestede
Rovers increased their lead when Rhodes received reward for his afternoons efforts by heading in the home side’s fourth goal from a Cairney free kick
Wigan continued to push forwards with substitute Maloney a constant threat and the away side narrowed the deficit when a Maynard shot took a deflection and bobbled past Robinson into the goal
Wigan continued to press for an equaliser but despite a shot from Maloney which went narrowly wide and a spectacular overhead kick by McClean which went over the bar it wasn’t to be and Wigan now go forwards into the play offs with the main body of their starting eleven well rested and ready for the games against QPR.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Carson……7, made some excellent saves.
Crainey……5, struggled out of position and against the pace of King.
Ramis……..5, didn’t gel with Caldwell effectively, withdrawn.
Caldwell…..5, see Ramis, withdrawn
Kiernan,……6, a poor pass which led to Collison being dispossessed for the first goal but solid otherwise.
Espinoza……8, a fine game both in attack and defence. MOM.
McEachran….6, tried hard to create chances.
Collison………5, looked off the pace and outclassed by the Rovers midfield.
McClean……..7, gave his all for the team..
Maynard……..6, tried hard.
Waghorn…….6, starved of possession by the Rover’s defence, withdrawn.
Barnett for Ramis…….6,gave some solidity to the back line.
Maloney for Waghorn….7, a constant threat.
Helgersson for Caldwell….6, an unfussy debut
Entertainment rating…..8/10 we lost and it was very much an end of season game but no less entertaining for all that.
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