Blackburn Rovers 1 Wigan Athletic 1: Jewell fumes Wigan were 'robbed by worst referee'

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The Independent Football

This was a game all about two goals that were disallowed - and a third that was given but might well not have been.

In the end, Blackburn Rovers extended their unbeaten home run to 11 games with a controversial late equaliser and Paul Jewell, the Wigan manager, walked headlong into an FA disrepute charge with some stinging observations on the performance of Phil Dowd, the referee.

The key moment came with six minutes remaining, when Steven Reid's cross was apparently collected by John Filan as Lucas Neill barged into him. Technically, the Australian goalkeeper, playing against his former club, was not in control of the ball when his countryman challenged. More often than not, a free-kick would have been given. Dowd decided otherwise and the loose ball dropped for substitute Shefki Kuqi, who side-footed home.

The referee had already disallowed two goals by that stage, both in the first half. Paul Dickov was ruled to have fouled Filan as they jumped together for a cross that was spilled to the feet of Morten Gamst Pedersen, while Arjan De Zeeuw's close-range shot was disallowed because Jason Roberts was offside. In fact, the contact between forward and goalkeeper was minimal in the first case while Jason Roberts was played onside by Zurab Khizanishvili in the second instance.

"We were robbed in the first half and robbed at the end," said Jewell. "It's always the same with Phil Dowd and Wigan. How our goal was disallowed I don't know - it wasn't even close.

"And their goal wasn't a foul - it was GBH. I've been to see him and he didn't mean to get it wrong - he's just not very good. Another Premiership manager told me recently he's the worst referee we've got and he's right. The referee should come in here and face the press like we have to. They think we're robots and we can switch on and off in the face of the battle. They don't know how we think."

Before Kuqi's late intervention, it had appeared that Roberts' only meaningful contribution of the evening, when he back-heeled Pascal Chimbonda's downward header into the net early in the second half, would settle the game.

Wigan at least gained the point that Jewell had targeted before the match to make them mathematically safe from relegation. But a more significant consequence on the night was Blackburn missing out on the chance of a sixth successive home win that would have taken them level on points with Spurs in fourth place.

"Maybe Paul [Jewell] feels hard done by when the ball broke for Kuqi," said Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager. "But I never thought Filan had the ball under control.

"We had a goal disallowed ourselves in the first half, when I thought John Filan took his eye off the ball, so I suppose these things even themselves out," Hughes added.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Gray; Bentley (Tugay, 59), Reid, Savage, Pedersen; Dickov (Kuqi, 59), Bellamy. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Mokoena, Sinama-Pongolle.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Filan; Chimbonda, Scharner (Jackson, 46), De Zeeuw, Baines; Teale, Bullard, Kavanagh, McCulloch; Roberts, Johansson. Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Connolly, Ziegler, Thompson.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

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