Martinez hails McCarthy's style and spirit

Wigan 4 Blackburn Rovers 3
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The Independent Online

If there is a moral in the rambling story of this match, it is that Wigan Athletic should divert the River Douglas through the middle of the DW Stadium. Before Saturday, the Latics had scored only 12 home goals this season – a record that had much to do with their position in the bottom three.

Come the deluge Wigan at last started to look at home, scoring four and playing better as the pitch got worse and briefly moving out of the drop zone with this win. Steve Kean, the Blackburn Rovers manager, called conditions "dreadful, but the same for both sides", while Roberto Martinez could not resist name-checking rugby league, though it is more than four months since that sport was played at the DW.

On this showing, Wigan should not be worried about the start of the Super League season, but about whether they can persuade the Horse of the Year Show, the Edinburgh Tattoo and Glastonbury to relocate there as well. Come one, come all.

As the waterlogged contours of the pitch began to stand out, no one coped better with the conditions than James McCarthy. The Republic of Ireland international showed good poaching instincts for his first goal. His second, even on a day of unprecedented quality in the top flight, was a gem.

His double flick-up on his right foot, followed by a half-volley into the net with his left, is the sort of thing you might try while showing off on the beach. To do it in a crowded and saturated Premier League goalmouth was the mark of a special talent.

Martinez afterwards paid tribute not just to his skill, but to the determination that has seen him return three weeks ahead of schedule from a serious ankle injury. His impact since doing so is one reason why there are new glimmers of hope at Wigan that they might yet beat the drop. Another positive was a lively performance on the left wing from Victor Moses in only his second start of the season.

For Blackburn, the "new broom" effect of Kean is starting to wear off. This was their third defeat on the trot, although they created enough chances to win. They were the better side in the opening quarter, with Junior Hoilett impressive again and creating an opening goal for Jason Roberts.

After the later drama, including a penalty apiece, Rovers could have snatched a late equaliser, but as Kean admitted: "They handled the conditions better than we did."

Scorers: Wigan McCarthy 35, 56, Rodallega 50, Watson pen 65. Blackburn Roberts 23, Samba 58, Dunn pen 81.

Subs: Wigan Cleverley (Moses, 67), McArthur (McCarthy, 82), Di Santo (N'Zogbia, 88).

Blackburn M B Diouf (Benjani, 60), Dunn (Emerton, 60), Nzonzi (J Jones, 78)

Booked: Wigan Di Santo Blackburn Salgado, J Jones.

Man of the match McCarthy Match rating 8/10.

Possession Wigan 58% Blackburn 42%.

Attempts on target Wigan 7 Blackburn 5.

Referee M Dean (Merseyside) Att 18,567.

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