Blackburn 2 Wigan 1

  • By: Mark Staniforth, PA Sport
  • Last Updated: October 8 2012, 20:15 BST

Debutant goalkeeper Jason Brown emerged as Blackburn's hero after saving a crucial penalty as Rovers battled back from behind to sink Wigan at Ewood Park.

David Bentley celebrates his goal.

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Brown - a half-time replacement for groin injury victim Brad Friedel - guessed right to deny Svetoslav Todorov the chance to put the Latics back in front with 13 minutes remaining on the clock.

And six minutes later Benni McCarthy took advantage of an awful mix-up in the Wigan defence to beat Chris Kirkland and knock the simplest of winning goals into the net.

Mark Hughes' men deserved their victory for a second half of attacking intent after they had shrugged off the blow of falling behind to Emile Heskey's early opener.

And any lingering hangover from their UEFA Cup heroics in midweek were finally banished on the stroke of half-time when David Bentley put his side back on level terms.

Heskey had handed his side a dream start when he swept home a right-wing cross from Emmerson Boyce to put the visitors in front after only two minutes.

But in a lively start, McCarthy responded by shooting wide after being put through by David Bentley, then sent another shot across the face of goal.

McCarthy spurned another glorious chance to equalise in the 22nd minute when he burst through the static Latics defence but hit his low shot straight at advancing keeper Kirkland.

Heskey continued to cause problems at the other end, and his neat flick to strike partner Henri Camara ended in a dangerous driven cross with which Paul Scharner almost connected in front of goal.

Francis Jeffers, in for the injured Shabani Nonda, missed a fine chance for Rovers in the 32nd minute when he was put through by Brett Emerton but wasted his shot from a tight angle.

Chances for the visitors were in shorter supply, although Luis Valencia came close when he skipped past two defenders and curled a shot narrowly wide of Brad Friedel's right-hand post in the 39th minute.

Rovers were finally back on level terms on the stroke of half-time when Jeffers' neat lay-off found Bentley who curled a delicious shot from the left past Kirkland's despairing dive.

Rovers began the second half with renewed intent and it appeared debut keeper Brown would have little by which to remember his Premiership debut with all the action at the other end.

First Jeffers wriggled his way into the right side of the Wigan box but delayed his shot too long and eventually saw it deflected to safety off visiting defender Denny Landzaat.

And moments later McCarthy sped clear and clattered a low shot straight into advancing keeper Kirkland - only for the linesman to belatedly wave the offside flag.

Blackburn kept the pressure on and McCarthy hit another close-range chance straight at Kirkland as Rovers came closer to snatching the second goal their attacking intent deserved.

Kirkland had to be alert to nick the ball off Jeffers' toe from point-blank range in the 62nd minute after Bentley had been allowed to fire in a right-wing cross unchallenged.

And four minutes later Landzaat was booked for tripping Morten Gamst Pedersen on the edge of the box before Robbie Savage sent another free-kick curling just wide of target.

But Heskey still looked dangerous for the visitors and after skipping past Emerton on the left he sent in a dangerous 73rd minute cross which almost reached substitute Gary Teale.

Heskey charged clear again four minutes later and won the deserved penalty after being brought down from behind by Rovers defender Andre Ooijer in the box.

But debutant Brown rose to the occasion by saving Todorov's spot-kick and also the follow-up from point-blank range after pushing the ball back into the striker's path.

And to cap his dream debut, he watched from the other end six minutes later as Lucas Neill's long ball caught Kirkland racing from his goal and McCarthy tapped in the simplest of winning goals.

Teams

Blackburn Friedel (Brown 45), Emerton, Ooijer, Khizanishvili,Neill, Bentley, Savage, Kerimoglu (Mokoena 70), Pedersen,McCarthy, Jeffers (Roberts 70).

Subs Not Used: Gallagher, McEveley.

Booked: Jeffers, Ooijer, Mokoena.

Goals: Bentley 45, McCarthy 81.

Wigan Kirkland, Boyce, Jackson, De Zeeuw, Baines, Landzaat,Scharner, Valencia (Teale 67), Kilbane (McCulloch 74), Heskey,Camara (Todorov 64).

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Johansson.

Booked: Scharner, Kilbane, Baines, Landzaat.

Goals: Heskey 2.

Att: 17,859

Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).