Cold comfort for Allardyce in another point gained

Wigan Athletic 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
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The Independent Online

After his recent heart surgery, the last thing Sam Allardyce needs is the stress of a relegation battle. Yet that possibility looms after Blackburn's winless run extended to seven. With Sunderland due at Ewood Park today, manager Allardyce conceded after Saturday's draw at Wigan that improvement has to happen "very quickly" if his side is to avoid a dangerous new year downturn.

"We're about six points off where we should be – maybe a few more based on the performances we've given and opportunities we've had to win games recently," he said. "Today was another winnable game that we've drawn and that's the worrying thing now because we've got to turn good performances into victories very quickly. Draws are becoming no good to us."

With no funds to strengthen the squad next month, Allardyce must work with the squad he has and plainly his strikers are falling short. Benni McCarthy's goal after 30 minutes on Saturday – his first in the Premier League this season – was only the second in seven matches for his team.

Given that Wigan's defence is the most porous in the division, it would have seemed a clear opportunity to find some form in front of goal, but while McCarthy would have had a second had Chris Kirkland not bravely blocked his overhead kick close to the end, there were not many among the South African striker's team-mates with the confidence to take advantage.

For Roberto Martinez's inconsistent side, this was not a good day either, save for the first half of the second half, in which they responded to the Spaniard's half-time counsel with a spell of sustained pressure that threatened a rush of goals. In the end, though, after Paul Robinson made a couple of important saves and Charles N'Zogbia fired across the face of goal, Hugo Rodallega's 53rd-minute header brought their only score, after which their energy steadily fizzled out.

But Martinez, facing a similarly difficult new year, drew encouragement. "You need to weather the storm and then have your impact and influence in the game and to see that reaction collectively – it was the first time we've done it this season and I was pleased," he said.

Wigan Athletic (4-3-2-1): Kirkland; Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa; Scharner, Gomez, Thomas; N'Zogbia, Rodallega; Scotland. Substitutes not used: Kingson (gk) Amaya, Cho, Sinclair, De Ridder, McCarthy, Bouaouzan.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda (Jacobsen, 67), Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Salgado (Pedersen 76), Nzonzi, Andrews, Hoilett; McCarthy, Di Santo (Roberts, 72). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Diouf, Kalinic, Jones.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Booked: Wigan Thomas; Blackburn Salgado, Givet, Chimbonda, Nzonzi.

Man of the match: Gomez.

Attendance: 20,243.

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