Caldwell’s Latics go down at Ewood Park in final pre-season match.
- Match report from Blackburn 3 Latics 0.
- Second half treble from Rovers as pre-season ends.
- Tomlinson, Hanley and Marshall on target for the hosts.
BLACKBURN ROVERS 3
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
Gary Caldwell’s new look Latics finished off their pre-season ahead of next week’s Sky Bet opener at Coventry City with defeat against a full strength Blackburn Rovers, but the scoreline was a little harsh in truth.
The difference between the sides really came in terms of finishing, Rovers turning in three of the four chances they created all match into the back of the net, while Latics dominated the contest for long periods and carved out some decent opportunities without being able to apply the finishing touches.
Latics fans were offered their first sight of Michael Jacobs after his arrival from Wolves last week and he showed glimpses of what may be to come, operating just behind Will Grigg and proving to be a real handful at times.
Latics took the game to Rovers from the off, chasing down every ball and enjoying the vast majority of possession. Openings were few and far between in the first half but such was Latics’ domination that the hosts showed virtually no threat to Richard O’Donnell’s goal.
Instead it was Latics who looked the more likely to break the deadlock with quick and inventive movement.
The best move came on 27 minutes, when a succession of one or two touch passes that switched play from right to left and back again eventually saw the Everton loanees combine, Francisco Junior diving to meet Jonjoe Kenny’s cross, but the effort was a yard wide.
The game livened up in the second half, for which Lee Nicholls and Andrew Taylor were brought on in place of O’Donnell and Chris McCann . Rovers’ manager Gary Bowyer clearly had not liked what he saw before the break because his team came out firing and could have opened the scoring a couple of minutes after the restart when Craig Conway’s drive, which looked to take a slight deflection, came thundering back off Nicholls’ right-hand upright.
Latics responded with a great chance of their own, however, Junior once again with the chance, a curling shot from the edge of the box which whistled just over.
Then Jordan Rhodes, who had been ominously quiet until then, suddenly found himself free straight from a clearance by keeper David Raya on 55 minutes, he played a one two with Nathan Delfouneso on the edge of the box before drawing a good reaction save from Nicholls.
Back came Latics again, Jacobs this time firing a half-volley just over the bar from distance, but it was to be his last contribution as he was replaced on the hour mark by Craig Davies, who took up a more advanced position alongside Grigg. Leon Barnett also came on in place of Donervon Daniels.
Latics threatened again on 72 minutes after another good move eventually allowed Taylor to shoot but they were caught on the break, Willem Tomlinson finding a yard of space 25 yards out to shoot and the ball beat Nicholls – a goal from absolutely nothing and doubly disappointing for being so.
Sanmi Odelusi, Ryan Jennings, Jordan Flores and trialist Kevin McNaughton were introduced for the final few minutes in place of Grigg, Junior, Jonjoe Kenny and Reece James as both managers shuffled their packs and the game lost all fluency.
Latics conceded again on 83 minutes when Grant Hanley headed in from corner unchallenged at the far post, then Ben Marshall blasted home a strong finish into the top right corner past Nicholls in the final minute.
Blackburn: Raya, Henley (Spurr 81), Lowe (Nyambe 81), Hanley, Duffy, Guthrie (Koita 62), Marshall, Rhodes (Tomlinson 62), Olsson (Petshi 81), Conway, Maynard (Delfouneso 32)
Unused Subs: Steele, Kilgallon, O'Sullivan, Forrester
Latics: O'Donnell (Nicholls 46), James (Flores 84), Perkins, Daniels (Barnett 66), Power, McCann (Taylor 46), Grigg (Odelusi 82), Jacobs (Davies 62), Morgan, Junior (Jennings 82), Kenny (McNaughton (Trialist) 84)
Unused Sub: Mckay