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By ESPN Staff

Allardyce eyes safety mark after win over Wigan

Sam Allardyce hailed Blackburn's fighting spirit after goals from Benni McCarthy and Ryan Nelsen moved his side to within one more win of securing Premier League survival.

McCarthy struck on the stroke of half-time and Nelsen nodded home his first league goal in 111 appearances as Rovers seized the opportunity to see off Wigan 2-0 and leapfrog Hull and Sunderland into 15th place.

Allardyce said: ``We've done the job and it should give us a lot of confidence. It's a great show of character and determination from the lads and heroic defending was necessary on occasions.

``We're not safe just yet but we're nearly there. I think we've now accumulated 24 points in the 17 games since I've been here which is an excellent record and now we've got one more win to get.''

It might have been a different story if Antonio Valencia's third-minute shot not clattered the underside of the bar or had Rovers keeper Paul Robinson not been in excellent form to deny Charles N'Zogbia and Emmerson Boyce.

Wigan boss Steve Bruce admitted: ``When Antonio hit the bar you did wonder if it was going to be one of those days and it was. It summed it up in the last minute when they cleared three shots off the line.''

Rovers once again resorted to using centre-back Chris Samba as a makeshift striker in the absence of Jason Roberts and Roque Santa Cruz, and he proved a real handful as he harried the visiting defence early on.

Lee Cattermole had to boot an El-Hadji Diouf header off the line in the 23rd minute while N'Zogbia and Ben Watson came close for Wigan before McCarthy struck in the 45th minute, heading Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner past Chris Kirkland.

Bruce added: ``We spent all week talking about set-pieces then they go and score from a corner and a free-kick. That made the difference because I don't think they created too many opportunities and we hit the bar and their keeper was man of the match.''

Rovers made sure of the points on the hour when McCarthy delivered an excellent free-kick into the box and Nelsen flicked the ball on for his historic first goal for the club.

Despite a late rally from the visitors, Robinson was in outstanding form to shut out the likes of Valencia, Paul Scharner and Daniel De Ridder, leaving Allardyce an immensely satisfied manager.

Allardyce added: ``Ryan has been here for four years and that was his first goal. It was the quality of the ball first and foremost, and then a great little touch. Ryan's goal came at the right time to help take the pressure off.''


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