Club Focus – Blackburn – Rovers out of bottom three with much needed win

Blackburn Rovers secured a much-needed, morale-boosting win over local rivals Wigan Athletic on Saturday at Ewood Park. Sam Allardyce’s side, who slipped in to the dreaded relegation zone last weekend, knew that they simply had to win this game in order to get their season back on track. The home side did not perform as well as they did against Chelsea last time out, nonetheless they snatched maximum points and climbed out of the Premier League’s bottom three.

Wigan saw a comfortable amount of the ball in the early stages but could not take advantage of their promising play. Whilst the Latics could not find the killer pass they so desperately craved, Blackburn failed to assert their authority on the game for the first twenty minutes. The hosts gave away free-kicks and were not making much of the little possession they had. The first half dragged on without either side convincing with their performance, however the game almost sprung in to life when Hugo Rodallega and Charles N’Zogbia combined well with an impressive one-two. The Frenchman managed to put the ball past Rovers stopper Paul Robinson, but his effort was chalked off as the referee spotted a foul by him on Norwegian midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen.

Benjani, who scored his first goal for Allardyce’s side last weekend against champions Chelsea, was substituted after just half an hour thanks to an injury. The Zimbabwean striker, who joined the Lancashire outfit on a free transfer, will no doubt score goals for his new team this campaign, but this is not the first time he has been replaced in a game this season and that will cause Big Sam some concern.

The second half began much more brightly. Pedersen’s diving header forced a save from Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and the fantastic Paul Robinson also denied midfielder Diame. But the game exploded into life when Pedersen smashed a brilliant free-kick in to the top corner of Al Habsi’s net. Blackburn won the free-kick in a tight angle on the right hand side and Pedersen, who scored a magnificent goal in the corresponding fixture last season, sent the ball past Wigan’s goalkeeper, who was inexplicably off his line.

Rovers doubled their lead when former Latics forward Jason Roberts managed to get on the score sheet, albeit in a controversial manner. Replays on the big screen suggested that the striker was marginally offside and the visitors protested after seeing the evidence, but the goal stood. Wigan did score a goal of their own soon afterwards when N’Zogbia curled a delicious free-kick past Robinson. But that strike came too little too late for the away side and Big Sam’s men could have added to the scoreline if David Dunn had managed to get his shot on target.

Rovers were due a win and they finally got it, but even Allardyce admitted his side were not at the top of their game. He said: “We were subdued in possession, edgy, but we were solid defensively and two players delivered outstanding bits of football for the goals.” The Blues will now travel to the North-East to face Allardyce’s former side Newcastle on Wednesday. Chris Hughton’s side are performing incredibly well in the early stages of the season and Rovers may find them a tough nut to crack, but Big Sam’s men will be spurred on by the fact that a win could see them climb in to the top half of the table.

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