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Match Report


Posted Sat 05 Feb 11 at 17:02 PM

Report: Wigan 4 Rovers 3

Rovers were undone in the mud as they lost 4-3 to Wigan Athletic in an enthralling encounter.

Torrential rain allied with a poor surface at the DW Stadium played its part in match you couldn't take your eyes off.

Rovers bossed the first half, but they only had Jason Roberts' 23rd minute goal to show for their efforts.

James McCarthy levelling the scores before the break when he pounced after Robinson couldn't hold a shot from Boyce.

But as the conditions grew considerably worse the goals flowed. Hugo Rodallega then McCarthy putting the home side in control.

Chris Samba headed Rovers back into the game to make it 3-2, but a Ben Watson penalty restored the home side's two-goal advantage.

David Dunn then scored for Rovers from the spot to set up a barnstorming last ten minutes in which the visitors threw everything at goal, but ultimate came up pointless.

Rovers made three changes from the side that narrowly tasted defeat to Tottenham on Wednesday night.

Returning to the starting eleven after his month with Australia at the AFC Asian Cup was Brett Emerton, whilst Morten Gamst Pedersen and Benjani were also restored.

Dropping to the bench were David Dunn, Keith Andrews and Mame Biram Diouf.

Despite the terribly wet conditions the match got underway to a tremendous atmosphere, Rovers roared on their way by some 4500 travelling supporters.

An early sighter from Mohamed Diame was followed by a near post effort saved by Benjani, but for a good half hour Rovers were dominant.

Despite the tricky conditions underfoot Junior Hoilett again dazzled with his close control, often drawing fouls from the Wigan players.

One such foul saw Morten Gamst Pedersen test Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi from the resulting free-kick from the right, the Omani international saving well to deny the Norwegian. Play was kept alive, and as Hoilett skipped past the challenges in the area he teed up Pedersen but he blazed over from the edge of the area.

A deflected cross from Martin Olsson almost crept in at the back post until Al Habsi's timely tip, but as Wigan broke from the resulting corner kick, a slip from Michel Salgado allowed Victor Moses a clear run at goal. But on a muddy surface the former Crystal Palace youngster was quickly caught, his intended pass for Rodallega wayward.

Wigan followed at that up with another chance, Paul Robinson beating away Ben Watson's well struck free-kick.

The deadlock was finally broken at the midway point of the half, and inevitably it involved Hoilett. The Young Canadian, revelling in his free role behind the front two, played Brett Emerton in round the back and the Australian had time and space to pick out Jason Roberts to once again score against his former club from six yards out. As promised, his celebrations were muted.

Three minutes later and Rovers should have extended their lead further, Morten Gamst Pedersen sending the ball over into the area but Benjani somehow missed his header completely and Gohouri was able to clear.

Rovers were fully on top but they didn't have the goals to show for their dominance and that would prove to be crucial as the home side levelled ten minutes before the break.

Good work on the right by Charles N'Zogbia saw him nip into the area and find Emmerson Boyce, his shot was saved by Robinson at his near post, but the Rovers goalkeeper couldn't get the ball away far enough and James McCarthy pounced to equalise.

It had been a lively first half on a sticky pitch, but at the break Rovers knew they should have been leading.

Any hopes of a lively Rovers start to the second were quickly extinguished as the home side took the lead just four minutes after the restart.

As Ali Al Habsi sent a goal kick long upfield, Victor Moses sent the ball forward for Maynor Figueroa to chase, he got the better first of Chris Samba, then Paul Robinson who slid out of his area, the Wigan frontman showing a cool head to fire into the empty net despite Samba's best efforts on the line.

Six minutes later and it was worse for Rovers as Wigan made it 3-1. Paul Robinson had shown quick reactions to beat away a Charles N'Zogbia shot, but as Rovers failed to clear, N'Zogbia found James McCarthy, and the former Hamilton youngster, showed great feet to clip the ball past his marker before volleying into the corner of the net.

A shellshocked Rovers looked to hit back quick, and from a 58th minute corner they did reduce arrears. Morten Gamst Pedersen delivering from the left for Chris Samba to rise highest to powerfully head home.

Rovers then made a double change with David Dunn and Mame Biram Diouf sent on for Brett Emerton and Benjani hopes of an equaliser were dashed when MIchel Salgado tripped Figueroa in the area. Ben Watson stepped up made no mistake, driving the ball low down the middle to make it 4-2.

On a deteriorating pitch play became more by luck than judgement, the muddy conditions not conducive to fast flowing football.

A pass from Ryan Nelsen stuck in the mud and only contrived to tee up Rodallega, but Robinson blocked.

Rovers still had chances, Hoilett finding Diouf on the right of the area, but his first touch was heavy, his second saw him strike the ball wide of goal.

Then as the clock ticked over into the 80th minute Rovers were handed only their second penalty of the season.

A run from David Dunn along the edge of the area saw him upended by Boyce, Mike Dean dramatically pointing to the spot.

Dunn took the honours and made it 4-3 with a low shot that went just past the outstretched arm of Al Habsi.

Rovers continued to press, Mame Diouf saw a header saved, then Junior Hoilett wasted a great opportunity after getting to the byline as he was unable to find Roberts or Diouf.

There were howls of derision directed towards the fourth official when he held up five additional minutes, and although Rovers threw the proverbial kitchen sink at their hosts, Wigan held on to claim their first win of 2011.

WIGAN: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Alcaraz (c), McCarthy (sub McArthur 82 mins), Watson, N'Zogbia (sub Di Santo 88 mins), Moses (sub Cleverley 67 mins), Boyce, Rodallega, Diame, Figueroa.

Subs: Pollitt (GK), S. Caldwell, Gomez, Stam.

ROVERS: Robinson, Jones (sub Nzonzi 79 mins), Olsson, Samba, Nelsen, Emerton (sub Dunn 61 mins), Pedersen, Benjani (sub Diouf 61 mins), Hoilett, Salgado, Roberts.

Subs: Bunn (GK), Grella, Andrews, Hanley.

Booked: Di Santo (Wigan), Salgado, Jones (Rovers).

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