WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 BLACKBURN ROVERS 1A second half equaliser from James McClean earned a point for Wigan Athletic, in an entertaining Lancashire derby at the DW Stadium.
McClean’s header cancelled out an excellent first half strike from Corry Evans to earn Latics a creditable draw, in an even contest where either side could have taken the spoils.
Latics made four changes from the side that lost at Birmingham last week, with Ben Watson, Leon Barnett, Martyn Waghorn and William Kvist coming in for Don Cowie, Ivan Ramis, Shaun Maloney and Rob Kiernan. The changes saw Waghorn make his first start for the club for over two months.
Malky Mackay’s men started brightly, and almost took the lead inside the opening four minutes through Adam Forshaw, who latched on to Martyn Waghorn’s low cross from the left hand side, before firing straight at Jason Steele, and sending the rebound narrowly over the crossbar.
Wigan Athletic built on their strong start, and were testing the Blackburn defence with a flurry of activity down both flanks, despite the game being relatively even in terms of possession.
The visitors soon rallied however, and took the lead with their first chance of the game; an excellent effort from Corry Evans on the quarter of an hour mark.
Scott Carson reacted to a Blackburn corner and punched the ball clear into the path of Evans, who stylishly curled the ball into the right hand corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Despite the setback, Latics continued to see plenty of possession, with James McClean causing plenty of trouble with his tenacity.
Ben Watson soon got involved with proceedings, and again proved effective at causing trouble from corners; almost catching out Jason Steele with a cheeky effort that almost went all the way in on the half hour mark, with the ‘keeper reacting late to punch the ball away at the last moment.
McClean continued to be Latics’ biggest threat in the first interval, and the forward was unlucky not to test Steele five minutes before the whistle; when he latched on to McCann’s dangerous cross in the middle of the area, before miskicking his effort, at a range where any clean strike would have been lethal.
Blackburn came out in the second half intent to double their advantage, and Matt Kilgallon was close to doing exact that in the 48th minute, when he fired straight at Carson from a tight angle after a scramble from a corner kick.
Rovers built on their encouraging start to threaten again soon after, when Conway capitalised on good work from Rhodes with a teasing effort that took a deflection to fizz wide of the goal just before the hour mark.
Despite this, Latics remained fully in contention, and their battling spirit saw them draw level five minutes later through the tireless James McClean, who leapt up to meet an excellent free kick from substitute Shaun Maloney on the right hand side and head the ball past Steele to draw the scores level.
Latics were rejuvenated by the goal, and began to grow in confidence, putting plenty of pressure on the Blackburn defence in search of a much needed winning goal.
Blackburn had their own ideas though, and came unbelievably close to edging themselves back in front on 70 minutes through Jordan Rhodes, who saw his effort cleared off the line by an acrobatic Leon Barnett, after King had rounded the keeper and fed Rhodes, who had the goal at his mercy.
Malky Mackay responded, and introduced Andy Delort for the final 18 minutes of the game, in place of Martyn Waghorn.
The move proved effective, and the Frenchman caught the eye with his enthusiasm and movement up top, as Latics continued to push for a late winner.
The game remained open until the death, with Latics producing a host of dangerous passages in the final third.
Latics continued to press, but it was Blackburn who almost stole the points two minutes from time with a bullet header from a corner, only for Shaun Maloney to add to his assist, by leaping to clear off the line and earning a deserved point.