Wigan Athletic 0 Blackburn Rovers 3

Last updated : 31 December 2005 By Footymad Previewer
A memorable year for Wigan Athletic ended on a disappointing note as they crashed to defeat after four successive wins, finally running out of steam after three games in six days.

Morten Gamst Pedersen fired impressive Rovers in front with his fifth of the season before Steven Reid celebrated his 50th start for Blackburn in style, hitting a wonder goal with an unstoppable strike from 25 yards out.

Mark Hughes' men wrapped it up with number three from Craig Bellamy, who came off the bench in the second half. to claim his seventh of the season..

Wigan had rattled up wins over Manchester City and West Ham over the holidays while Rovers had a slight advantage fitness wise with their midweek fixture against Sunderland postponed because of a frozen pitch at Ewood Park.

It was the first league meeting between the clubs and the Latics kicked off ten points clear of their near neighbours and very much in contention of a place in Europe next season.

Rovers - beaten only twice in their previous six games - were without the suspended Tugay but had Lucas Neill and Paul Dickov back. Andy Todd missed out with a knee injury and Bellamy was again on the bench

Blackburn set the pace early on winning four corners in quick succession but only one caused any problems, when Mike Pollitt was forced to tip the header from Ryan Nelsen over the bar.

But Rovers took the lead after 15 minutes despite Wigan protests claiming scorer Pedersen was in an offside position.

Dickov had chipped the ball into the middle and it came off the head of Wigan's Gary Teale and Pedersen rifled in a powerful left-footer from a difficult angle at the far post.

A Jimmy Bullard free-kick created possibilities for Wigan with Pascal Chimbonda winning the header, but referee Clattenburg blew up for a foul by Lee McCulloch.

The official also penalised Jason Roberts for a push on Brad Friedel after Henri Camara knocked in a dangerous cross from the left that went spinning into the air off a Blackburn defender.;

Wigan threatened again - Chimbonda providing a good ball into the danger area.- but Camara's shot flashed wide.

The £3million striker was out of luck again seconds later, caught just inches offside as he threatened to race clear on goal.

Dickov went close for Rovers at the other end and Friedel was forced into action to keep out a shot from McCulloch.

Camara had another shot deflected off target and from the corner, Wigan went close to levelling it.

Skipper Arjan de Zeeuw got up to power in the header, but Michael Gray was perfectly positioned on the line to keep it out.

Wigan needed an early goal to get back into it - but it was Rovers who found the net with a spectacular effort from Reid.

David Bentley's cross was headed out by Chimbonda but Reid got there ahead of Graham Kavanagh to blast past Pollitt from 25 yards and stakeg his claim for goal of the season.

Wigan went agonisingly close to snatching one back but Rovers keeper Friedel showed real quality pulling off a great stop from Latics sub David Connolly.

Then with time running out, Blackburn made absolutely sure when Bellamy hit the third goal after taking advantage of a lucky bounce of the ball off Wigan midfielder Damien Francis.