Wigan slumped to their fifth successive Premier League defeat (6 in all matches) in probably the most tame derby seen in the past seven seasons against a Bolton side seeking its first win in seven league games.
Martinez opted to rotate the squad bringing in Alcaraz, Jones and Gohuri with Van Aanholt Figueroa and Stam making way.
Any fans who were at the last home game against Tottenham must have experienced a sense of déjà vu as the home side for the second home game gave away a terrible goal within the first five minutes.
This time it was the returning Alcaraz who brought the ball to the half way line but lingered too long on the ball allowing Pratley to pinch the ball exposing Wigan’s remaining defenders with a long pass to Chris Eagles on the right who flew pass the static Gohuri crossing for Reo-Coker who was given time chest the ball past Caldwell and Al Habsi into the net.
Within five minutes it could have been two, Wigan who all afternoon allowed the Bolton midfield especially Petrov and Eagles far too much space saw ther latter flash a shot at the Wigan goal with Al Habsi producing a fine save.
Wigan were awful, their back four looked disjointed with only Boyce who tried to make the overlap to support Moses’ attacking prowess looking anything like a Premier League defender . The midfield five had McCarthy who is a shadow of the player from the first half of last season playing in the unfamiliar position of the left wing created little and defended poorly this exposing the porous defence. Moses ran his socks off and tried to feed the ball to Di Santo who tried to inject a spark into a moribund first half performance but Wheater and Cahill closed him down and with the big Argentinean having little support when in possession Wigan didn’t look like scoring.
For Bolton, Davies was his usual thorn in the Wigan defence and only a good save from Al Habsi and a diving block from Caldwell stopped the scoreline being worse.
The home fans were getting restless and just as the grumbles of discontent were rising, Mohammed Diame produced a wonder shot to equalise. A clearance from the Bolton defence found the Wigan midfielder on the edge of the penalty area and his powerful shot left Jaaskelainen grasping at thin air and Wigan were level.
As the game was meandering towards the half time break the ball found Gohuri on the left hand side of the penalty area, with literally seconds to go, instead of booting the ball far upfield, he tried to play it out was easily dispossessed by the predatory Davies who crossed to N’Gog who had time to control the ball before firing past Al Habsi and Wigan were behind again.
Martinez opted to change things around at half time, replacing the underperforming Gohuri and Watson with Rodallega and Figueroa and immediately Wigan looked more balanced and dangerous going forwards.
Moses was giving Robinson a torrid time and with Rodallega giving Wigan width on the right , Di Santo found more room in the middle and it only seemed a matter of time before Wigan secured an equaliser.
It didn’t happen however and Bolton gradually came back into the game. and Boyata must be wondering how he didn’t extend the lead. A corner wasn’t cleared and the ball was fired back in and a diving header from Boyata fizzed past the far post with the Wigan defence stranded.
Shortly after Bolton had another chance when Eagles turned and shot, the ball went through Al Habsi’s legs and trickled past both Caldwell and the far post.
Minutes later Bolton had another chance when Caldwell earned a booking for an alleged push in the penalty area. Davies stepped up to take the penalty but Al Habsi guessed the direction of his old team mate’s penalty and saved well.
Wigan pushed on looking for an equaliser but Jaaskelainen wasn’t troubled other than one shot from Moses which went just past the post.
As Wigan pushed forwarded looking for an equaliser, Bolton looked to counter, one more broke down but Alcaraz took too long on the ball and was robbed by Eagles who then strode past three Wigan defenders , none of whom attempted a tackle and slotted the ball past the Wigan keeper to seal the victory and condemn Wigan to another defeat.
The full time whistle brought a muted chorus of boos, muted because a sizable chunk of the home support had already left and many more performances like today’s with too many players seemingly content to pick up their losing pay without busting a gut for their team will see the team remain in the bottom three. Only Moses, Di Santo, Rodallega, Al Habsi and Diame showed anything like the skill and application needed to compete in the Premier League.
Al Habsi…….7.5 Kept us in the game with some fine saves
Gohouri ………4 A poor performance
Alcaraz ……….4 Too casual too often cost two goals
Caldwell ………5 Tried hard but limited ability
Boyce …………6 The best of a back four
McCarthy……..5 A shadow of last season’s player
Moses…………7 Tried hard, our best creative outlet
Jones………….6 Worked hard but nothing special
Diame……….6.5 A superb goal
Di Santo ……6.5 Tried hard with little support
Rodallega ……7 Troubled the Bolton defence
Maloney ……5.5 Little chance to shine
Figueroa …….6 Gave some stability in the second half.
Man of the Match
Ali Al Habsi , without him our goal difference would be far worse.
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