EVANS FUMES AT REF OVER VI­TAL GOAL

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

ROTHER­HAM boss Steve Evans claimed an “em­bar­rass­ing de­ci­sion” handed a Jer­maine Pen­nant-in­spired Wi­gan a rel­e­ga­tion life­line

The for­mer £6.7m man curled two ex­cel­lent free-kicks over the wall and be­yond Adam Collin in just five match-chang­ing first-half min­utes be­fore Matt Der­byshire replied for the Millers.

But an an­gry Evans was adamant Pen­nant should not have had the op­por­tu­nity to hit home his first in the 31st minute.

The award was given on the edge of the box for an al­leged foul by cen­tre-back Kirk Broad­foot on James McClean – an in­ci­dent that re­sulted in both play­ers squar­ing up to each other and be­ing yel­low carded.

“It’s em­bar­rass­ing for the ref­eree,” claimed Evans.

“That’s hard to take. It’s just not a free-kick – if it is, we should all give up foot­ball. I can’t com­plain about Pen­nant’s ex­e­cu­tion of the free-kicks, he had been in the Pre­mier League and can do that sort of thing.

“Our first half was av­er­age but we were out­stand­ing at times in the sec­ond.We were fan­tas­tic and put them to the sword. There were two or three big chances for Jor­dan Bowery and we were dis­ap­pointed not to get any goals for it.

“Wi­gan hardly got out of their half af­ter the break but it’s a good re­sult for them – and oth­ers in the league.”

Evans’ view was strongly backed by Broad­foot, who said: “I got out of the way and McClean dived. That’s cheat­ing.”

Nei­ther side threat­ened to score be­fore Pen­nant’s spec­tac­tu­lar one-two in a dev­as­tat­ing five-minute spell.

Wi­gan’s new sign­ing had al­ready shown glimpses he is up for the battle be­fore giv­ing his side the lead. Pen­nant’s fin­ish was sim­plic­ity it­self as he chipped his shot over the Rother­ham wall as Collin stood mo­tion­less.

Pen­nant’s in­stant emo­tional re­ac­tion as he cel­e­brated in front of the trav­el­ling fans also spoke vol­umes.

The sec­ond was even bet­ter af­ter Far­rend Raw­son fouled Marc-An­toine For­tune. Pen­nant changed di­rec­tion to curl an un­stop­pable ef­fort high into the far cor­ner.

Shell-shocked Millers nearly replied when the im­pres­sive Jack Hunt fed Paul Green who shot inches over the bar but they did get a life­line with the last touch of the first half. Ben Pringle’s cross was su­perbly headed home by Matt Der­byshire. The ex­pected on­slaught never quite ma­te­ri­alised as determined Wi­gan largely held Rother­han at arm’s length for much of the sec­ond half.

Fel­low full-back Daniel Laf­ferty was inches away from con­vert­ing an­other fine Hunt cross af­ter 58 min­utes but Ali Al Habsi wasn’t ex­tended un­til com­fort­ably sav­ing Karl Ar­na­son’s header in the 70th minute.

The goal­keeper, how­ever, was at his very best to cru­cially deny sub­sti­tute Bowery’s down­ward header with just three min­utes left and re­cover to some­how claw away his fol­low up from point­blank range.

Wi­gan manager Malky Mackay had a very dif­fer­ent view on the free-kick con­tro­versy, say­ing: “James has got to the ball first and nicked it past him – he’s been blocked and it’s ob­struc­tion. At first, I thought it was a penalty.

“Jer­maine Pen­nant’s de­liv­ery on both was sen­sa­tional. Look at it again and you’ll see how hard it was to do that. He’s come into the club and given us great charac- ter, per­son­al­ity and hu­mil­ity to be­come one of the lead­ers in the dress­ing room. He is cer­tainly not here for the fi­nances.

“Rother­ham didn’t re­ally threaten us in the sec­ond half apart from Al Habsi’s dou­ble save.

“The re­sult keeps us close to the teams above us. The group I have now here is up for the fight.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

AT THE DOU­BLE: Wi­gan’s Jer­maine Pen­nant cel­e­brates scor­ing their goal with Gae­tan Bong. Inset: Pen­nant scores a free-kick

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