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Wigan Athletic 0 - Blackburn Rovers 3

The JJB Stadium

1st January 2007. 15:00

Attendance: 14,864

Wigan 0.v.3 Rovers

It`s three wins out of three as Rovers begin 2007 in exactly the same way as they began 2006, beating Wigan 3-0 at the JJB Stadium.

The scoreline is an unfair reflection on the game as a whole. Wigan started strongly and could have had the lead after just ten seconds when Emile Heskey met Dave Cotterill`s cross.

Heskey was proving to be a real handful for the Rovers central pairing of Zurab Khizanishvili and Stephane Henchoz. He also connected with a Leighton Baines cross but could only divert the ball wide of the post.

Wigan continued to dominate throughout the half with Skoko forcing a smart save from Friedel with stinging 20-yard strike.

As conditions got worse so did the fluency of the game. Both sets of players were looking weary after the hectic Christmas schedule and the game descended into a scrappy and bitty contest.

Rovers looked lethargic and almost casual thus failing to muster an attack of note until the 39th minute.

Morten Gamst Pedersen had switched to the right hand side of midfield and he was hacked down for his troubles. He promptly whipped in one of his trademark in swinging free kicks from the right and Khizanishvili rose the highest to glance a header past Chris Kirkland.

Replays seem to suggest that Emile Heskey may go down as the goalscorer, which is unfortunate and sadly ironic because if anyone was going to open the scoring in this drab affair it was going to be him.

Rovers controlled the game through to half-time with little threat on their goal.

Both sets of players appeared for the second half ready to do battle again in torrential rain.

Wigan began the second half as they had begun the first, on the front foot and maintaining possession. However, for all of their ball retention and expended effort, they couldn`t generate any clear openings in order to bring themselves level.

Matt Derbyshire had replaced Shabani Nonda at half time after the Congolese hitman picked up a groin strain. His introduction turned out to be an inspired move by Mark Hughes. The young Englishman had been looking dangerous recently appearing as a late substitute and he emphasised his predatory instincts in the 58th minute.

An excellent chipped ball from Lucas Neill found Gamst in the area and the Norwegian displayed excellent vision by heading the ball back across goal and into the path of Derbyshire who volleyed home his first senior goal for the club.

The second goal killed off any remaining threat from Wigan who continued to work hard but cut dejected and forlorn figures in the poor conditions. Dark rain clouds were a permanent fixture over the JJB Stadium all afternoon and they summed up the mood permeating the air at Wigan.

Leighton Baines launched a free-kick high over the bar, an effort that would have been more applicable to their rugby counterparts as they tried in vain to fashion an opening.

The game petered out and was put beyond doubt in the 76th minute when Rovers were awarded a penalty. It was a dubious decision that went against Fitz Hall, who had been adjudged to have handled, but with so many similar decisions going against Rovers this season it was refreshing that one went in their favour.

Benni McCarthy stepped up and banished all memories of his woeful penalty against Bolton earlier in the season by slotting the ball home with great aplomb.

The 3-0 scoreline flattered Rovers on another typically dull Lancashire afternoon. The game itself never really matched up to it`s billing of a Lancashire hot-pot of a derby; it was cold and miserable, especially if you`re a Wigan fan.

Star Player

Morten Gamst Pedersen.

He set up two of the goals and was a constant danger from midfield.

Player Ratings


Friedel 7

He made a couple of smart stops and although not greatly busy, did well when called upon.

Neill 7

A clever ball in for the second goal and another typical Lucas performance.

Emerton 7

Made an excellent goal line clearance and provided Rovers with pace and energy down the right.

Khizanishvili 7

Returned to great affect, will look to claim the opening goal.

Henchoz 6

Troubled by Heskey at times but was generally solid.

Bentley 6

Looked dangerous but didn't see enough of the ball to be a major threat.

Gamst 8

Made two goals and worked hard again in horrendous weather.

Savage 6

Plenty of energy in this gritty display.

Mokoena 6

Preferred over Tugay because of the conditions and made a real difference in the middle of the park.

McCarthy 7

A quieter afternoon for the South African but he took his penalty well.

Nonda 5

Had his game cut short through injury but he didn't offer enough in the first half.

Derbyshire 7

Half time sub and he made his presence felt in the second half. Always sniffing around in the area and finally got his reward.

Todd 6

Came on to shore things up and that is what he did.

Gallagher 5

Replaced McCarthy who will have had a little rest and showed some decent touches. Needs to offer more though if he is going to break into the first team.




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The Journalist

Writer: Roversman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday January 1 2007

Time: 6:47PM

Your Comments

Not the greatest of games but an excellent result. This will be a real confidence booster in so many ways. Im delighted for Derbyshire, he deserves that goal. Hopefully that will really help his confidence and he can build on that with another few goals as a sub. Gamst looked committed again too.
roversman
For once the luck ran our way, maybe Emerton was lucky not to have been called up for a handball as he cleared away off the line. We took our chances didn't we, that was the difference. As I've already say I'm THRILLED Derbyshire has finally got the goal he deserves. The first of many, many I hope!
Hughes Da Man
I think know he has got that goal he can relax a little and hopefully we will start to see the same assured an composed striker that has done so well in the reserves.
roversman
Where was the faith guys. I remember before the Arsenal game how a few of our members where saying Christmas will not get any better. We won 3 from 4, what more could we ask for
sasman
It was depressing for a while sasman you have to admit, but even the Arsenal game showed a lot to me despite the 6-2 mauling. It may be too early to say but I felt that was the turning point; and so far so it has proved. I had great faith and believed we'd win ALL three of our Christmas and New Year games and we did. The faith was there, hence the reason for the "where will we be come the end of December" poll, which I'm glad most people voted in favour of heading towards mid table. We have Arsenal and Chelsea coming up four points has to be the target, two minimum I'd say. After that Man United are the "biggest" team we'll face for the rest of the season.
Hughes Da Man
It's always pressure to get that first goal, and the longer it takes the harder you can try and this can have a negative approach, this wasn't the case with Matty. The first goal will fill him with confidence and he'll get more between now and the end of the season, even if they have to come from the bench then hopefully next season we'll see a lot more of him and maybe even Raffaele De Vita will start doing a Derbyshire and get a chance here and there?!?!
Hughes Da Man
I think the defeat to Arsenal was a turning point, it showed the players that the Premier League punishes slackness, was the kick up the arse that was needed. The 3 games after that only 1 goal conceded and that was a pen!!
Clint
It also showed that we can compete with the big boys if we try.
Hughes Da Man
 

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