Wigan were held to a goalless draw at the JJB Stadium for the second successive game and yet again the condition of the playing surface, which had been compounded by the weather, was a large factor in the outcome of the game.
Paul Jewell opted for the same starting line up that had began at Preston a fortnight earlier but made a couple of changes on the bench with Andy Liddell and Steve McMillan returning from injury at the expense of Neil Roberts and Paul Mitchell.
However the dream start that they had experienced at Deepdale failed to materialise as Burnley set out their stall well and were quite happy to sit back and soak up anything that Wigan threw at them and then hit them on the break with Ian Moore and Robbie Blake looking dangerous up front for the East Lancashire side who hadn’t won on their travels in the league since the beginning of September.
Wigan pushed forward from the outset but it was the visitors who had the first real sight of goal when former Bradford City striker Robbie Blake put Glen Little through but the 28-year-old midfielder was stopped in his tracks by the timely intervention of Ian Breckin as he closed in on goal.
Ian Moore then got the better of the Wigan defence but was denied by the quick thinking John Filan, making his 100th consecutive league appearance in goal for Wigan, the Australian racing off his line to clear the ball to safety.
Minutes later the best chance of the game so far fell to Wigan after they had been awarded a free kick just outside the Burnley area. Jimmy Bullard stepped up and curled the ball over the wall but Danish keeper Brian Jensen did very well to get down low to his right to palm it away but only as far as Jason Roberts.
Roberts, making his home debut and bidding to be only the 4th player in Wigan’s league history to score on both his home and away debuts, slotted the ball into the danger zone but Burnley’s defence hacked the ball behind for a corner before Wigan could pounce.
Jason Roberts then went close to writing his name in the history books when De Vos nodded a Jimmy Bullard corner to him. With his back to goal the former Bristol Rovers and West Brom striker turned before firing a shot just beyond the right hand post.
Roberts then turned provided when he teed up Lee McCulloch after a long ball had been nodded back to him by Nathan Ellington. McCulloch moved forward before sending a low shot to Jensen’s left but the keeper was equal to it, getting down low to push the ball away for a corner.
McCulloch took a knock as he made his shot but after receiving attention from physio Alex Cribley play was allowed to restart with Bullard finding De Vos at the back of the area but his powerful header was blocked by the defence.
However the loose ball went only as far as Gary Teale 20 yards out and the Scot pushed the ball back out to the wing where Bullard swung it over to the far post with De Vos racing in to head home.
Somehow referee Uriah Rennie disallowed the goal as he had apparantly seen an offence committed in the packed penalty area as the ball came over – despite nobody else spotting it or a single Burnley player appearing to claim for it.
The second half saw Bullard again denied by a low save from Jensen five minutes in after he’d beaten the Burnley wall and five minutes later Stan Ternent’s side saw the best chance of the game go begging after Blake played a neat one-two with Moore to go racing clear on goal with only Filan to beat. Fortunately for Wigan Filan was at his best, narrowing the angle to beat out Blake’s effort with his legs.
Moments later it was Jason Jarrett’s turn to come to Wigan’s rescue when his pace helped him to cut out the ball as Neil Moore, signed on loan in week from Manchester United, bore down on goal.
Paul Jewell made the first change of the game with 20 minutes remaining as McCulloch made way for Andy Liddell to make his first appearance since limping off at Crewe before Christmas.
Four minutes later Bullard was again denied a goal and again by a decent low save by Jensen from one of his free kicks and soon after saw another effort sail narrowily wide – it just wasn’t going to be the former Peterborough midfielder’s day.
At the other end of the field Little was thwarted by a fine save from Filan and with minutes remaining Bullard was again unlucky as his free kick missed the target by a fraction after Jason Roberts had been brought down by Mark McGregor as he made his way towards goal.
As the seconds ticked away Wigan had one last throw of the dice when Bullard sent Ellington racing down the right but after cutting in The Duke sent his angled shot well wide of the far post.
Wigan remained in 6th spot despite dropping 2 points but the pack chasing them for a place in the play-offs is getting closer and also larger with the likes of Stoke City and Crystal Palace, in 12th and 13th respectively, well within touching distance of a top 6 finish.