GARY BACKS HIS ROVERS REVIVAL
Uwe now eyes the play-offs
BLACKBURN may have missed out on an unlikely play-off place but boss Gary Bowyer claims his side’s progress this campaign can act as a solid foundation for next season.
Last season Rovers avoided dropping down to League One by just four points, this time round they could have sneaked into the top six but results elsewhere meant it wasn’t to be.
A seven-goal thriller, though, saw Ivan Ramis cancel out Tom Cairney’s stunning opener before a Rudy Gestede double handed Rovers back the lead.
James McClean pulled one back for Wigan before Jordan Rhodes added Blackburn’s fourth while Nicky Maynard’s sublime finish gave the Latics late hope.
And Bowyer believes a 12game unbeaten streak should be carried into the summer.
“I don’t think from where we were this time last year when mathematically we still could have got relegated and the amount of work that’s gone in over the summer that we can look on this as anything but progress,” he said.
“We have to build on that now and try and get one or two additions into the squad and are already looking forward to the start of next season but we know there’s a lot of work to be done in the summer still.
“We’ve said all along that this club probably needs another three windows before it’s back where I think the squad should be.
“To win the game was all my focus was on.There’s always room for improvement – that’s what’s been pleasing working with this group. We’ll continue with that ethic of wanting to get better.”
Rovers could have taken an 11th-minute lead were it not for Ramis’ goal-line clearance from Rhodes’ shot.
Cairney scored a sublime 13thminute opener after robbing Jack Collison and dashing past both Ramis and Gary Caldwell to slot coolly past Scott Carson.
Blackburn’s lead lasted four minutes after Paul Robinson was beaten aerially by Maynard from Martyn Waghorn’s corner, the ball rebounding off the crossbar for Ramis to finish.
But the hosts reclaimed their advantage moments after the restart when Craig Conway cut back for an unmarked Gestede to score his 12th of the season.
Carson kept the deficit down following a vital 34th-minute save from Rhodes’ powerful header from Conway’s cross.
But he could not prevent Gestede’s second after the striker rose above Rob Kiernan and Caldwell to nod in Conway’s floated 35thminute cross.
Wigan grabbed one back through McClean who finished clinically after Matt Kilgallon only half-cleared Josh McEachran’s low cross just before the hour.
Gestede was a lick of paint away from a hat-trick after his header from Conway’s corner rattled the crossbar.
Rovers hotshot Rhodes grabbed his 25th of the season when he headed in Conway’s 84th-minute left-wing free-kick.
And despite Maynard’s cool curling shot past a diving Robinson giving the Latics late hope, their prayers went unanswered.
Wigan boss Uwe Rosler, whose side will play QPR in the play-offs, said: “Overall I am very happy that the team pushed and pushed.
“We looked strong. We ended the game nearly with an equaliser.
“I am as ready as I can be. I have a good pool to choose from, I have one day more to prepare, I have a decent momentum going into that week and I know with the way we’ve played against QPR that we can compete with them.
“The game will not be won or lost in the first leg. It goes over two legs and we have to understand that.
“We have to pick the players that are physically and mentally ready who know what it takes to go further over two legs.”
RUDY GOOD SHOW: Blackburn’s Rudy Gestede scores the Rovers third
RHODE TO GLORY: Jordan Rhodes gets up to beat Wigan’s defence in the air