Martinez risks FA wrath after turning on Friend

Blackburn Rovers 2 Wigan Athletic 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Roberto Martinez, the Wigan Athletic manager, may well be fielding calls from the FA this week after accusing referee Kevin Friend of simply "guessing" in an encounter from which they deserved something but got nothing.

Last season, Martinez received a £2,250 fine and was warned about his future conduct after outlining that he believed Stuart Attwell had "lied" when deciding to send Gary Caldwell off against Manchester City. His opinion was not as strong on this occasion but he was clearly seething at Friend's inexplicable decision to cancel out a Charles N'Zgobia strike in the first half after spotting an imaginary misdemeanour, in a contest settled in Rovers' favour thanks to goals from Morten Gamst Pedersen and Jason Roberts.

"I know the referee has a very difficult job but today he really cost us with that decision," Martinez said. "He had a clear view and you look at the replay, he is in a good position and, I don't know, he must be guessing at what happened there because I don't see the contact. I just cannot understand it, it's not a big decision to make. He needs to be certain of something to give a free-kick and there is nothing there."

At least the incident gave the first half some semblance of a talking point after an opening period of woeful quality. The encounter improved after the break, and immeasurably so in Blackburn's case as Pedersen's free-kick transformed from a cross into a shot that left Ali Al Habsi flat-footed and flapping as it sailed straight in before Roberts, the former Wigan player, added a second as he converted Brett Emerton's fine cross. To Wigan's credit, neither the disallowed goal nor the deficit deterred them and they finished as the stronger side with N'Zogbia managing to seek some form of justice from 30 yards when his superb free-kick beat Paul Robinson with 16 minutes left.

However, despite provoking a nervy finale as N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega led Wigan on wave after wave of attack, the visitors could not get back into the encounter and they replaced Blackburn in the relegation zone as a consequence.

"It was a very important victory on a day where we've not played as well as we can," Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn Rovers manager, said. "It's a relief to get out of the relegation zone because no matter what you tell the players, they do think about it when you're down there."

Allardyce claimed that the Pedersen finish, despite screaming "fluke" was nothing off the sort. "He does that every day in training," he said. "It's why you put a left-footer down the right, if you bend it in the goalkeeper can do nothing until he knows no one else is going to touch it. A quality delivery and a quality goal."

Attendance: 24,413

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Pedersen

Match rating: 6/10