Hugo Rodellega has taken time to demonstrate he can fill the void left by Emile Heskey at Wigan but the Columbian is now showing that strikers can thrive even when asked to do a shift on the left flank, scoring two fine goals to end Burnley’s perfect run at home.
There can be no doubting what Steve Bruce achieved at Wigan but it is to Roberto Martinez’s credit that, despite losing a number of key players since the turn of the year, he has got even more out of those left behind.
Although he was shunted to left-back after an early injury, Charles N’Zogbia has been inspirational at right wing and since Jason Scotland’s inclusion as a lone striker against Chelsea last month, Rodallega, a £4.5 million signing from Necaxa in January, has been equally effective on the left.
Martinez said: “Hugo’s work-rate was exceptional and he’s a clinical finisher. He enjoys the game and he plays with a smile on his face. Off the pitch he’s well settled.”
Four straight home wins had given Burnley belief that they can stay up and the feeling that nothing could go wrong intensified when a cross from Robbie Blake was stabbed in off the crossbar by Steven Fletcher with just three minutes gone.
However, six minutes later Rodallega scored the easiest goal of his life to bring Wigan level. Mario Melchiot sliced a lob forward and it should have been an easy take for goalkeeper Brian Jensen but the Dane’s studs caught in the turf and he collapsed in a heap, allowing Rodallega to roll the ball into an empty net.
Jensen had to be replaced by Diego Penny, limping off with a twisted ankle and bruised pride, but despite Wigan’s dominance, they failed to trouble the Peruvian keeper until after the restart.
Jordi Gómez sent Scotland into the area and he held the ball up before laying it off for Rodallega, who drilled a shot in off a post.
They made it three when Rodallega’s corner was flicked on by Paul Scharner and defender Emmerson Boyce found the net through a crowd of bodies.
It was just Burnley’s third defeat at home this year and their manager Owen Coyle said: “We never said this adventure would be easy and there will be trials and tribulations along the way.”