Wigan edged closer to Premier League safety with a last-gasp win over fellow strugglers Burnley yesterday. Hugo Rodallega headed in during injury time to break the hearts of a battling Burnley side that had desperately tried to secure their first away win in the top flight since 1976.
What had been a lacklustre match was sparked into life after a missile – believed to be a coin – was thrown at Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland early in the second half. Kirkland rubbed the front and back of his head after being hit while standing in front of the Burnley fans. Referee Mike Jones spoke with the chief steward at the side of the pitch before allowing play to continue.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said: "We think it was a coin. It's not one of those events you want to see in
a football match."
The matter is sure to be investigated by both clubs and the Football Association.
Wigan now have 31 points – seven above the relegation zone – while Burnley with 24 points remain in the Premier League's bottom three.
"It was a very traumatic finish for us," Martinez added. "You could feel the anxiety in the crowd in the first half. It could have been very easy to lose the concentration and allow Burnley to score on a counter-attack."
Rodallega had missed two earlier chances – firing a long-range shot just wide in the 61st minute and Wade Elliott cleared another of the striker's chances moments later.
Burnley went achingly close to breaking the deadlock when Martin Paterson's fizzing shot hit the crossbar in the 71st minute. Wigan also had chances through Jason Scotland and Mohamed Diamé in the final moments of regular time but their shots were tipped over by Brian Jensen.
Wigan defender Gary Caldwell – who missed out on playing against his brother for the first time in a competitive match when Stephen was ruled out for Burnley with a groin problem – had the best chance of the first half when his header hit the post.
Burnley also had a flurry of chances in the opening minutes through Graham Alexander, David Nugent and the club's top scorer Steven Fletcher, who was back after a three-game absence because of a broken hand.
"It's a cruel blow, but that's Premier League football," Burnley manager Brian Laws said. "But I thought the performance, commitment and desire of the players was fantastic and can still give us great heart for the remaining games."
Laws has now only won once in 12 games since he took over the club on 13 January, with only one draw. And Burnley have still only mustered one point from their 16 League away games this season. Their last away win in the top flight was against Newcastle in April 1976.
Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the match: Rodallega
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content