We ended up with the result no one wanted but getting there provided a fascinating afternoon of nail-biting anguish for the loyal fans of the Premier League's two most unsuccessful teams.
Ayegbeni Yakubu, who began the breathtaking sequence of fluctuating incidents with the opening goal after only 68 seconds, provided the stunning denouement with the stopwatch flicking over into the ninth minute of added time an epic relegation tussle. His penalty, with the penultimate kick of the match, rescued a point for Blackburn and their beleaguered manager, Steve Kean, at the expense of an unfortunate Wigan, who remain the only team below them.
The Latics, who at least avoided the ignominy of what would have been a club record ninth straight League defeat, will feel hard done-by as they digest the contents of the latest action-packed affair which produced a seven-goal thriller in the corresponding meeting last season and eight goals three years ago.
Roberto Martinez could not complain too much about the final cruel blow which denied his men a precious and deserved victory because the desperately late lunge by David Jones to prevent the goalkeeper Paul Robinson from making a successful sortie into the opposing goalmouth left referee Andre Marriner with a straightforward decision.
The Wigan manager was right to be indignant, however, about the way Blackburn restored parity for the second time, on the hour. Morten Gamst Pedersen got away with a cheeky con trick normally reserved for school playing fields as he played a left-winger corner to himself. Nobody seemed to notice as the Norwegian danced along the goal line before crossing unopposed for JuniorHoilett to head home.
Even after the injustice had been executed Wigan's defenders were still oblivious to it as they prepared to restart the match without protest.
"My players were confused," said Martinez. "It's my fault that there was no protest. I force my players not to complain, not to show dissent and not to get into trouble but that policyis costing us points. If this had happened at somewhere like Anfield it would have been talked about for most of the next week, but because it happened here at Wigan it will be forgotten about in 20 minutes or so. I don't really want to say too much about the way I'm thinking because it will cost me a lot of money, but let's say it's too easy [for officials] to get decisions like this one wrong."
Martinez though this relatively positive result in the wake of what has been recently endured will be a turning point in Wigan's season and if they continue to play as they did here they will get the points to remain in the top flight for an eighth season. On the basis of this evidence, one would rate their survival prospects higher than those of Blackburn, who were relieved to avoid what could have been a pivotal day in their own chequered history since taking the Premier League title back in 1995.
Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the Ewood Park takeover by the Venky's and the Indian owners "celebrated" the occasion by coming over to watch – at least for the first half. With the manager's future still in the balance after only three wins in the last 26 matches, Kean's employers were seen leaving for the airport at half-time. "I didn't know they had left," admitted the manager.
Kean praised his troops for coping so well with the loss of David Dunn for a second yellow card only three minutes into the second half. "I thought the lads hung in there really well," he said. "We've had a lot of things go against us in the last minutes of games recently so we are glad to have got this one going for us."
Yakubu punished a mistake by Gary Caldwell to make that early breakthrough but Wigan, who might have had a penalty when Pedersen upended Victor Moses, were soon level, Jordi Gomez lashing the ball home from Grant Hanley's weak clearance.
Caldwell atoned for his error by heading home from a Jones corner to give Wigan an interval lead and after Hoilett's controversial leveller the home side went ahead again when substitute Albert Crusat toe-poked the ball past Robinson. But the goalkeeper made amends, his presence forcing Jones into the costly indiscretion which allowed Yakubu his last minute moment of glory.
Wigan (4-5-1): Al Habsi; Gohouri, Stam (McArthur, 90), Caldwell, Figueroa; Gomez (Crusat, 68), McCarthy, Diame, Jones, Moses; Sammon (Rodallega, 68).
Blackburn (4-4-1-1): Robinson; Salgado (Henley, 46), Hanley, Dann, Givet (Roberts, 90); Rochina (Formica, 83), Nzonzi, Pedersen), Hoilett; Dunn; Yakubu.
Referee Andre Marriner.
Man of the match Yakubu (Blackburn).
Match rating 8/10.Reuse content