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15:28 7th May 2012


Latics battle to claim eighth season in top flight


Alcaraz 86

Report by Nick Taylor

There will be no last day nerves and nail biting this season as Antolin Alcaraz heads in to secure Wigan Athletic a 1-0 victory at Ewood Park, ensuring Latics taste Barclays Premier League football for the eighth season in a row.

It was another history making night as Latics claimed their first ever Premier League victory at Blackburn, on a night which also saw the home side relegated to the Npower Championship.

Roberto Martinez sent his side out in the same shape as last Saturday with no changes from the side that humbled Newcastle 4-0.

His consistent first 11 looked took full control of a tricky game in the first half as the greasy surface caused problems under foot.

It wasn't long before possession play built up into genuine chances and on eight minutes former Rovers' striker Franco di Santo squandered a one-on-one chance against Paul Robinson.

The Argentine did well to break the Blackburn back line but his low placed shot was dealt with by Robinson as he dove down to his left.

Latics continued to pass and build as they moved forward with precision and speed.

On 24 minutes Victor Moses showed skill to fend off Scott Dann at the corner flag before skipping into the box to drive the ball straight at Robinson who stood solid.

The best chance of the half for the away side fell into no-man's land as a floated Jean Beausejour corner was headed down towards the penalty spot by Alcaraz at the back post.

Captain Gary Caldwell stuck out a toe to try and drag the ball in but knocked it beyond an on-rushing Moses who looked destined to make the net bulge.

It would only have been appropriate for a man who terrorised the Blackburn defence throughout the game.

After half time Rovers came into life as they launched long balls and arrowed corners into Latics' box.

Ali Al Habsi held firm as did his defence to clear time and again.

Right on the hour mark it looked like Blackburn were to make their pressure pay as a corner wasn't dealt with by the goalkeeper or defence.

The ball fell first to Junior Hoilett who was blocked by Emmerson Boyce but the scrambled continued until Moses dispossessed Morten Gamst Pedersen to stop the danger.

Four minutes later Alcaraz was called upon to save his side as a long ball looked to put Yakubu clear through on goal but, from out of nowhere came the Paraguayan's right boot to tip the ball back to his grateful goalkeeper.

Latics were getting frustrated but remained focussed on the task in hand.

On 71 minutes it looked like Moses may have grabbed a chance for an opener as he jinked and tricked his way down the left wing only to go down in the box under a challenge from Orr.

The referee waved away the Nigerian's claims and booked the winger as he was judged to have taken a dive.

Just 15 minutes later, and as an anxious but highly vocal Latics following looked on, the magic moment happened.

Beausejour delivered a floated cross towards the back post and up rose Alcaraz who beat the defenders and powered his header passed Robinson to send Latics fans into a frenzy.

The faithful near 3000 that made the trip to East Lancashire had been in fine form all night with songs for the players and manager but it was on 81 minutes that they could finally celebrate safety.

Latics played out the final mintues with control and composure and as the final whistle blew, the players gave the fans a touching sentiment with a round of applause in front of the away end.

The victory lifts Latics above Aston Villa into 15th on 40 points and five points clear of 18th place Bolton Wanderers.

Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Orr (Goodwillie 80), Lowe, Dann, Givet (Petrovic 46), Martin Olsson, Dunn (Marcus Olsson 44), Pedersen, Hoilett, Modeste, Yakubu
Unused Subs: Kean, Formica, Nzonzi, Rochina,

Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi, Boyce, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Beausejour, McArthur, McCarthy, Maloney, Moses, Di Santo (Sammon 85)
Unused Subs: Pollitt, Watson, Diame, Gomez, Crusat, Rodallega
    Data provided by Press Association