REPORT: BURNLEY 2 WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
Latics went down to two first-half goals as Burnley secured their promotion to the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Turf Moor on Easter Monday.
Strikes from Ashley Barnes and Michael Kightly secured the points for the Clarets after a fast-paced start proved the difference on a difficult afternoon for Uwe Rosler’s side.
Rosler made four changes from Good Friday’s defeat of Reading with Stephen Crainey, Jack Collison, James McClean and Marc-Antoine Fortune returned in place of Roger Espinoza, Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman and Martyn Waghorn.
Sean Dyche’s Clarets were unchanged from their 1-0 win at Blackpool last time out with former Latic David Jones continuing his run of featuring in every Sky Bet Championship game this season.
The opening ten minutes saw little in the form of clear-cut chances for either side, though the hosts began with the intensity and eagerness expected with what was at stake for the Clarets.
James Perch came to Latics’ rescue as the match passed the quarter hour with Kightly breaking down the right and cutting back before the former Newcastle United full back cleared from close range with Ings lurking.
The Clarets were ahead on 21 minutes as a quick give and go presented space for Dean Marney on the right-hand side and he crossed for Barnes to volley home from the centre of the area.
Minutes later Scott Arfield volleyed over from the edge of the area from Jones’ header as the hosts continued to play with a similar intensity to that Latics displayed in the win over Reading on Friday.
Ali Al Habsi had to be on hand to palm a Kightly cross away as the game approached the half hour.
McClean had Latics’ first effort on target as the Republic of Ireland international flicked Jordi Gomez’s set-piece on for Tom Heaton to claim on his line.
Latics’ best chance of the opening 30 minutes came from another Gomez free-kick as Fortune flicked the Spaniard’s left-footed take onto the bar from ten yards before Emmerson Boyce hooked the rebound over.
Fortune then forced another save from Heaton as the French striker turned on the edge of the area and saw his effort take a kind deflection off Michael Duff and into the grasp of the former Manchester United stopper.
After a sustained period of Latics pressure, Al Habsi had to be on hand to save at his near post as Jones’ 25-yard free-kick looked like it may creep in at the near post.
Kightly doubled Burnley’s advantage three minutes before the break as Perch was adjudged to have fouled Arfield just outside the area and the former Wolves winger stepped up to whip the ball around the wall and inside the far post.
Collison fired wide from 25 yards as Latics looked for a reaction before Ben Mee forced another save out of Al Habsi from 25 yards.
McManaman and Rob Kiernan were introduced at half-time with the former immediately making an impact, running at the Clarets’ defence before firing wide of Heaton’s right-hand post.
Burnley, though, were intent on adding to their advantage with Kightly dispossessing Perch before firing just wide of Al Habsi’s left-hand post from 25 yards.
McClean’s cross forced Heaton to backpedal and tip over as Latics started the second-half brighter before Danny Ings fired against Al Habsi’s near post in a rare Burnley attack in the second 45’s opening third.
Boyce rose to head Jean Beausejour’s header over at the back post as Latics looked the more likely to find the game’s third goal as the hour mark passed.
A Jones free-kick forced another save from Al Habsi as the hosts reacted to Latics’ earlier pressure with their promotion just 25 minutes from being confirmed.
Captain Boyce headed another Beausejour corner wide as a set-piece looked most likely to bring Latics into the game with the match entering the final quarter hour.
Burnley continued their intensity in the game’s closing stages Kiernan’s headed clearance falling kindly for Barnes whose volley forced a smart save from Al Habsi.
A deafening roar brought up the final whistle as Dyche’s side produced a promotion little expected at the start of the campaign, Latics will now focus on joining the Turf Moor outfit in the top-flight next season, starting with the visit of Blackpool to the DW Stadium on Saturday.