Saturday 7 December 2019

Martinez happy to cash in after keeper Kirkland is struck by coin

Rodallega 90

Jeremy Cross

ON A normal day the sympathy for Burnley would have been all too evident in the wake of this cruel defeat.

Yet it was difficult to find someone who felt sorry for Brian Laws’ side, as justice was seen to be done when Hugo Rodallega’s diving header deep into stoppage-time helped Wigan take a giant stride towards safety and shoved Burnley in the opposite direction.

Burnley played the more positive football and deserved at least a point, but a second-half incident saw Chris Kirkland, the England and Wigan goalkeeper, struck on the back of the head with a coin thrown by travelling supporters behind him, meaning neutrals welcomed the outcome.

The Football Association will launch an investigation this week in the hope of identifying the culprit, but few could blame Kirkland for celebrating somewhat enthusiastically at the final whistle.

There was also the small matter of Michael Duff’s crude and cowardly late elbow into the face of Paul Scharner, which went unpunished but could still come under scrutiny. Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, was in no mood to feel sorry for his beaten opponents despite their desperate plight.

Martinez said: “When Chris got hit on the head, he could have been worried, he could have been dizzy. But in football you get the rewards you deserve. He wanted to stay on the pitch until the end of the game and he allowed us to win the three points.”

Meanwhile Sunderland striker Darren Bent refuses to stop dreaming about playing in the World Cup finals despite being snubbed by England head coach Fabio Capello.

Bent, whose two goals against Birmingham eased Sunderland towards the sanctuary of mid-table, has now scored 21 times this season, but his club exploits have not been enough to win over Capello, who left him out of the squad who faced Egypt earlier this month.

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish was left cursing Craig Gordon. Sunderland's goalkeeper produced an inspired display to deny his former Scotland manager, who saw Cameron Jerome reply for the visitors before Fraizer Campbell struck late on.

“I never saw him afterwards,” McLeish said with a smile. “He was terrific.”

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot, Caldwell, Bramble, Figueroa; McCarthy, Scharner (Scotland, 34), Diame, Thomas (Moses, 75); Moreno, Rodallega. Substitutes not used: Stojkovic (gk), Gohouri, Amaya, Gomez, Sinclair.

Burnley (4-1-4-1): Jensen; Jordan, Duff, Cort, Mears; Alexander; Paterson (Eagles, 82), Elliott, McDonald, Nugent; Fletcher (Blake, 69). Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), Bikey, Thompson, Cork, Edgar.

Referee: M Jones (Chester).

Booked: Wigan Athletic Bramble; Burnley MacDonald, Duff, Mears.

Man of the match: Fletcher.

Attendance: 18,498.

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