"Resign!" Steve Kean's entrance to the DW Stadium was hardly carpeted in bouquets as a day he dared not end with defeat began with a small gathering of Blackburn Rovers fans booing him and demanding he leave the club.
Despite his side having David Dunn sent off for a second bookable offence after a 48th minute foul on Mohamed Diamé, Kean managed to avoid his nightmare result in a breathless end to the match as his desperate keeper, Paul Robinson, wandered up for a corner in the ninth minute of stoppage time and won a penalty when David Jones's boot clattered his head, causing blood to spatter his face. Up stepped Ayegbeni Yakubu to provide Blackburn's second equaliser of the match, slotting home calmly beyond Ali al-Habsi.
"I thought we hung in there," Kean said. "It was tough playing such a big period of the game with only ten men. At first when I saw the yellow card I thought Davey got a little bit on the ball but I've not seen it again. That was a big decision for the ref. Having said that, I thought once we went down to 10 men we were excellent."
More contentious than that incident had been Rovers' second goal, which came from a controversial corner that Yakubu merely placed in the quadrant before wandering off. This allowed Morten Gamst Pedersen to stroll in from the left before crossing for Junior Hoilett to head home.
What did Kean make of that? "I don't know if he touched it or rolled it – maybe the referee thinks he's got a full circumference to the ball," he said, referring to a now superseded section of the laws, but Roberto Martínez offered a surer verdict of what occurred. "If I'm going to be very honest I'm going to get into trouble and it's going to cost me a lot of money," said the Wigan manager, who had told Sky Sports he thought Andre Marriner's decision was "scandalous". "The decision is hard to take, hard to explain. I watched it on television 10 times and I wouldn't be able to tell you what happened so for a referee to allow that is really hurtful."
Told that Yakubu had made no contact and that the referee had his back turned at the time, Martínez smiled and replied: "Then it's even worse. I haven't done the referee's course but I'm sure you have to watch the ball at all times. I don't want to sound bitter. I don't like that, to blame the referee. [But] it seems like you have to do more at Wigan to win a match [and] I feel sorry for my players."
Yakubu's cool kick had proved the last of a contest that seemed to have tightened the noose around Kean's neck as Albert Crusat's 88th-minute strike – under Robinson's body – appeared to have won the match for Wigan. On the first anniversary of Venky's buying the club Kean was facing off against the only man with a worse managerial record than him: ahead of kick-off Martínez's Wigan were bottom, a point worse off than Rovers on five.
Kean's record showed only three wins in the past 25 league games, a trot causing much of the anger from Rovers supporters. When Gary Caldwell failed to deal with a flick-on and Yakubu moved in to lob past Habsi, the Scot's prospects of improving that count seemed rosy. This was after 65 seconds. Around five minutes later Jordí Gómez scored a first of the campaign from 20 yards out to equalise when his shot from a difficult angle squeezed past the disappointing Robinson. The second from Wigan arrived on 31 minutes. Jones provided the delivery from a corner and Caldwell finished beyond Robinson, who ended the period screaming at his team to get a grip: precisely what Kean had to do ahead of one of the more crucial 45 minutes of a callow managerial career.
Instead, proceedings went south after the restart. With Venkatesh and Balaji Rao, the watching Venky's owners, not yet reappearing, Dunn was shown his second yellow. This prompted a chant of "Kean Out" and a chorus of "We want Venky's out" directed at the absent brothers. Martínez acknowledged that avoiding an eighth consecutive defeat was "a turning point".
Kean, who said he was unaware that the Venky brothers had departed early (apparently for the airport), will be hoping so too.