Uwe now eyes the play-offs

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John McDougall

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

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

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