Wigan produced a goal flood on a quagmire of a DW Stadium pitch to clamber out of the relegation zone. After a season-long drought, Roberto Martínez's team reached saturation point in the sodden conditions.
Not since dispatching Hull for five in August 2008 had they managed such productivity and their manic 22-minute spell either side of the interval belied their status as the division's lowest scorers before kick-off. The best of their quartet was dispatched by the left boot of the precocious James McCarthy, whose intricate link-up with Charles N'Zogbia and subsequent fleetness of foot moved the ball around a massed defence and deposited it into the bottom corner.
McCarthy earlier began the scoring spree when he hauled Wigan level from a diminishing angle.
McCarthy's recent return after a three-month injury lay-off has emphasised his worth in the survival fight ahead and Martínez was quick to acknowledge it. "We missed him too much," he said. "We forgot how good a player he can be but thankfully he came back three weeks ahead of schedule, which is an insight into the type of character he is."
Hugo Rodallega's opportunist strike, which means he equals Henri Camara's record of 20 top-flight goals for the club, and a Ben Watson penalty book-ended McCarthy's second. But the game got better as the pitch got worse, which meant Christopher Samba's powerful close-range header and substitute David Dunn's conversion from 12 yards contributed to a frenetic finale.
With Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City their next three opponents, Wigan's maiden league victory of 2011 could not have been better timed. "The three points were a must when you look at the games coming up," Martínez said.
THE FANS' PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICT
PAUL FARRINGTON, Wiganer.net It was a bit nervy towards the end, especially after what had happened against West Brom during the week. I think given the conditions that Mike Dean was a bit too lenient – James McCarthy got a bad knock and he's just come back from a serious operation. We are grateful for McCarthy's return, he is a key player for us in the middle of the park linking defence and midfield. Without him we tend to look a bit disjointed. We've got some tough fixtures against Manchester United and Manchester City coming up but after that we are playing some teams around us and they are the matches that matter most.
The fan's player ratings Habsi 7; Boyce 7, Gohouri 6, Alcaraz 7, Figueroa 6; Watson 7, Diamé 8; N'Zogbia 7 (Di Santo 88 6), McCarthy 8 (McArthur 82 6), Moses 6 (Cleverley 67 6); Rodallega 6
MARCUS TATTERSALL, Observer reader It was pub-team defending by us today on a surface that was more swamp than football pitch. Wigan managed the conditions much better than we did but we dominated the match earlier on and with 4,500 Rovers fans there it felt like a home match. The Wigan penalty was the changing point in the game – from where I was it looked like he took a dive but it was hard to see. I think Steve Keen was incredibly naive today, a much more pragmatic approach was needed. On a more general note, this defeat is not as important as losing our chairman John Williams – that's a big blow for us .
The fan's player ratings Robinson 5; Salgado 4, Nelsen 5, Samba 5, Olsson 4; Emerton 5 (Dunn 60 6), J Jones 5 (Nzonzi 78 5), Pedersen 6; Hoilett 6; Mwaruwari 5 (Diouf 60 5), Roberts 6
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