Wigan 5v3 Rovers
The JJB Stadium
15th December 2007. 15:00
Oh dear! I must apologise for beginning this match report on a sombre note but…oh dear.
How embarrassing to concede five, yes five goals to Wigan Athletic. No disrespect to Wigan of course but even their most staunchest of fans would admit the chances of them scoring five were slim, but we, with a little help from the officials, managed to concoct enough chances for them, it would have been rude to turn them down.
We now stare down the barrel of a difficult Christmas period, where, to be quite frank, I can`t see a win for a while - I`m even nervous about playing Derby now!
The team togetherness has disappeared, the solidarity has gone and we are leaking goals at a worrying rate.
Yesterday saw Mark Hughes make numerous changes to the starting eleven but not fifteen minutes were on the clock when Rovers were staring down the barrel of a two-goal deficit.
Slack defending and poor concentration was the order of the day for Rovers throughout this fixture.
Goals from Denny Landzaat and Marcus Bent enabled Wigan to race into an early 2-0 lead. However, Rovers were awarded a way back in with a soft penalty. However, like the decision itself the penalty from Benni McCarthy was weak and Chris Kirkland duly saved; clear indications this wasn`t to be Rovers` day.
More poor marking let Wigan score a third through Paul Scharner as half-time approached. A needlessly conceded free-kick by Chris Samba led to Ryan Taylor delivering another expert cross into the box that was headed home by Scharner, stooping at the near post. However, for some unbeknown reason, Roque Santa Cruz had ducked under the ball at the near post allowing the cross to arrive into the six yard box.
The Paraguayan did make an amends with the last kick of the half, scoring a spectacular goal from the edge of the area, conjuring the opportunity for himself.
The second half began with an explosion and Rovers and Santa had their second of the afternoon on 53 minutes. An excellent run from Morten Gamst Pedersen led to the Norwegian being tripped. A quickly taken free-kick followed and the delivery into the box by Brett Emerton eventually saw the ball rebound off Emerson Boyce forcing Kirkland into an excellent one-handed save with the rebound falling kindly for Santa Cruz to volley home.
Rovers` tails were up but a moment of sheer stupidity from Emerton led to the away side`s task doubling in difficulty. Already on a yellow card he needlessly upended Taylor off the ball, although there was minimal contact and Taylor certainly made the most of it. However, Clownenberg issued the red in true style against Rovers!
Rovers didn`t buckle and duly equalised just after the hour with Santa heading home a sweeping move to complete his hat-trick and the come back.
It didn`t last long though as Stephen Warnock added to the errors of Samba and Ryan Nelsen in the first half to gift Wigan their fourth. His misplaced clearance presented Antonio Valencia with a chance to cross for Bent to head home his second.
Rovers plugged away and should have equalised again through Santa. He had a free header from a corner six yards out but misguided his attempt.
Rovers, valiant second half attempts were finally undone by a horrendous double decision from the officials.
Julius Aahahowa, already booked, escaped a red card when failing to retreat for a free-kick, which in keeping with the softness of Emerton`s second yellow, left Rovers bemused.
To make matters worse he was then played through on goal whilst stood a yard and a half offside. As he bore down he had the simple task of squaring for Bent to complete his hat-trick and steal Santa`s thunder.
Rovers did muster further chances but the damage had been done in the first half.
The only guy to emerge with any credibility.
Santa Cruz 9