The afternoon started brightly for Burnley, with Robbie Blake flying past Mario Melchiot before delivering a pin-point cross past Chris Kirkland, to land right in front of Steven Fletcher. The Claret’s top scorer was hardly going to miss from there and managed to get enough on the ball to send it crashing into the roof of the net after four minutes. Wigan responded in quick fashion. Captain Melchiot lifted the team and the crowd with two decent efforts, forcing good saves from Brian Jensen. He then skipped past Andre Bikey to deliver a lovely cross to Hugo Rodallega. What happened next was a bizarre twist of fate as Jensen came for the ball and folded half way, collapsing on the pitch with a twisted ankle, leaving Rodallega with all the time in the world to calmly place the ball into the net. Jensen came off soon after, the Claret stalwart unable to take any further part in the game. Both sides probed after the goal, but neither was to break the deadlock before half-time.
The game restarted in quick tempo again, Chris Eagles coming close for Burnley but only managing to hit the side netting. Then, just as it seemed Burnley were on top Jason Scotland received the ball on the edge of the area before delivering it into the feet of Rodallega. The clever Colombian then drilled it towards goal – the ball taking a final touch of the far post before heading in (51). Burnley huffed and puffed and Owen Coyle introduced David Nugent, however, this was to be in vain when, with the game coming to a close Paul Scharner’s corner found Boyce unmarked at the back post. The right-back’s finish was cool and Wigan looked good for the lead until the final whistle in what was a scintillating Latics display.
Roberto Martinez: “We knew it was going to be a hard game and we did it the hard way, going one nil down, as Burnley are capable of doing to punish you in the little details, and we found the solutions and finished the game really strong.”
Owen Coyle: “Barring a really bizarre incident where they got their equaliser, I think we were in a really good position to see the game through.”
Burnley’s home record was undone in what was a thoroughly entertaining match-up between two teams who have played some good football in recent weeks. Wigan have beaten Chelsea and drawn with Manchester City in their last two home games and were looking to recapture that level in what has been a dismal away form so far. Burnley mirrored this with four out of four home victories, however, looking vulnerable on their travels, last week losing to Blackburn in yet another derby. The pundits were seeing a predictable scoreline as Burnley went one nil up – their home form the opposite of Wigan’s away. However, earlier in the week Melchiot had called upon his side to reproduce the quality of football that allowed them to match up with the big dogs against some of the “smaller” Premier League teams, and they responded with a vengeance.
Rodallega was Man of the Match with a brace that shook Burnley, marking himself a man to watch. The first was from inspirer-turned-provider Melchiot and Rodallega was on hand to pounce on Jensen’s mistake. His second was drilled into the far post after being laid off from Scotland. The Colombian was clinical and marked a clear difference between the two sides, constantly a threat going forwards for Wigan. Although Wigan’s away form may be under scrutiny, their 35 mile journey to Burnley might have been the reason for breaking a duck that has seen them lose 2-1 to Hull and 4-0 to Arsenal in recent away forays. Both teams play their football in Lancashire and in what was a derby played with a good atmosphere and an exciting tempo, it was Wigan who came up trumps in the end.
Burnley supporters must be feeling doubly bad after losing two derbies in a row. Their 3-2 loss to Blackburn last week was a close edged affair and this match looked that way before Jensen’s woe. The cross from Melchiot looked an easy one for Jensen to gather, however, he seemed to collapse as the ball flew overhead to land comfortably with Rodallega. It was a strange incident where Jensen had twisted his ankle in approach to the ball, and Burnley must be ruing their luck after it, looking composed at 1-0.
The question of Burnley’s survival must now start to resurface. Their 100% home form has come to an end and now they are only four points above the drop zone. Since promotion Burnley have tried to play an attractive passing style of football and perhaps look open at times at the back as a result, as evidenced by their 5-0 thrashing by Tottenham two weeks ago. Regardless, they have still made a good start to the season as portrayed by their 11th place spot in the table, beating teams like Manchester United along the way. The only question mark lies over whether they can keep this form up.
Whereas Wigan have really started to progress this season, and can now start to look at the upper echelons of the league. Good results against big teams have shown that Wigan have the quality, all that remains is the consistency. However with this result maybe things will start to come together for Roberto Martinez’s team. They play Portsmouth away next week, so it will be interesting to see if they can keep their home form up there.
Burnley 1-3 Wigan – Fletcher 4 – Rodallega 11, 51, Boyce 76
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen (Penny 15) – Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan – Eagles, Bikey (Mcdonald 82), Alexander, Elliott – Fletcher, Blake (Nugent 67)
Wigan (4-4-2): Kirkland – Scharner (King 78), Boyce, Bramble, Melchiot – Figueroa (Gomez 28), Thomas, N’Zogbia, Diame – Scotland, Rodallega
Burnley – Wigan
7 – Corners – 4
12 (9) – Shots (on target) – 13 (8)
12 – Fouls – 11
2 (0) – Yellow cards (Red) – 0 (0)
2 – Offside – 6