Charles Dickens wrote in a Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” last night’s game could paraphrase this into a tale of two penalties with some of the former , a little of the latter and a lot in between in a game in which a tired Wigan side just managed to prevail against a well drilled Sheffield side
Wigan manager Uwe Rosler made seven changes from Sunday’s amazing win over Manchester City with recalls for Al Habsi, Waghorn, Maynard, McClean, Barnett , Beausejour and Tunnicliffe in place of the injured McCann.
Wigan took the game to Wednesday from the off with McClean and Waghorn rampaging down the wings with two early corners coming to naught. A more clear cut chance came when a break by Beausejour saw the Chilean put a superb cross itnot eh centre but Maynard failed to control the ball which fell to Waghorn who, forced to shoot with his weaker foot shoot tamely at the keeper.
Wigan continued to press but didn’t have it all their own way and with Helan marauding down both wings, the Wigan back four had to be alert to any danger. From one such Helan foray Palmer shot over the bar which should have served as a warning to Latics
Latcics failed to heed the warning and were almost made to pay when Helen slid a lovely ball through to Maghoma, who pushed the ball past Al Habsi who brought him down, the referee having no hesitation in awarding a penalty and a yellow card for the Omani who was very fortunate not to see red.
After Maghoma received treatment which seemed to last an eternity Best stepped up but a poor penalty was easily saved by Ali.
This seemed to shake Wigan from their lethargy and Tunniclffe who had up until then a quiet debut fired a powerful shot which Martinez did well to save.
Both teams trooped off at half time knowing they would have to up the tempo if they were going to get the three points that both sides craved for different reasons..
Sheffield Wednesday started the second half with more purpose but for all their endeavors and possession in the first ten minutes they created very little to trouble Al Habsi in the Wigan goal
The impetus in the game changed when Rosler made a double substitution bringing on Powell and McManaman for McArthur and Waghorn. Powell immediately started to push forwards often coming back into his own half for the ball and his weaving attacking runs caused real problems for the Wednesday defence. Sheffield were forced to defend deeper and McClean forced a good save out of Martinez followed by a shot from Powell whose shot arrived at the feet of Fortune who was unable to control the ball which went out for a goal kick.
Wigan kept pressing and were finally rewarded in the dying embers of the game when Perch cut in from the right and was brought down in the area by Lavery for the second penalty of the game.
Gomez as at Manchester City was the player chosen to take it and despite a bit of verbals form the Wednesday players to try and unsettle him the Spaniard showed Best how to take a penalty firing the ball into the net to give Wigan a lead their enterprise just about deserved.
The final whistle brought cheers of relief from the home fans as their tired heroes acknowledged their support, after what was the fifth league win on the bounce but with games coming thick and fast Wigan’s fitness and resilience will be subjected to strenuous tests over the next few weeks.
Team Line up and player ratings
Al Habsi…..7, lucky not to see red , saved a penalty.
Perch……..7, kept on his toes by Helan, looked better going forwards.
Boyce…….7 another hard working performance.
Barnett……7, good in the air and not bad on the ground.
Beausejour…..6, a quiet game with a few glimpses of class.
McArthur……..6, looked tired after Sunday’s game, withdrawn.
Gomez………..7,5 scored a super cool penalty.MOM
Tunnicliffe…….6, a solid debut.
Waghorn………6, constantly buzzing all night, withdrawn
Maynard………6, missed a good chance in the first half, struggled to impose himself.
McClean………7, looked dangerous every time he touched the ball, withdrawn.
Powell for McArthur……7, kick started the momentum after the break.
McManaman for Waghorn…6, showed a bit of attacking flair.
Fortune for McClean…..n/a little chance to influence.
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