A narrow one nil defeat to play off chasing Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday, left Wigan Athletic facing the real possibility of relegation by next Saturday.
Latics were the dominant side in the game and could point to two key referring decisions in the second half which may ultimately cost them their Championship status.
Wigan made one change to the side which secured a first home win since August last Saturday with Boyce returning to the starting lineup in place of the benched Cowie. On the becnh there was a return for Taylor replacing loanee Ojo
The confidence that the win last week had given the Latics was clear for all to see as the hosts tore into the visitors with slick passing orchestrated by Kim and utilising the width provided by playing Bong and Boyce as forward wing backs and Perch slotting into the centre of a back three.
This adventurous play had Wolves on the back foot, so much so that it was fourteen minutes before they got into the Wigan penalty area.
In that time Wigan had a couple of good chances, McClean firing into the side netting following a header from Maguire at a corner and shortly afterwards Pennant unleashed a fierce shot which Wolves’ keeper Kuszczak did well to tip away for a corner.
From Wolves first real attack they scored, a poor foul from Boyce on Golbourne out wide on the left. The free kick was curled in by Sako and the ball sailed towards the back post where Afobe rose unchallenged to head the ball past Carson for an undeserved lead.
Wigan didn’t let their heads drop and continued to push forwards and almost had the equaliser when a Boyce shot following good work by the ever industrious McClean just went over the bar.
The first have wasn’t without a degree of feistiness and McClean possibly in a hint of things to come was lucky to escape a booking following an altercation with a Wolves defender at a Wigan corner.
Wigan left the field at half time to thunderous applause for a forty five minute performance in which they had done everything but score.
The second half was a more end to end affair as Wolves switched from playing high balls towards Afobe, balls which were comfortably dealt with by Pearce and Maguire to a more ground based approach trying to use the pace of Dicko and Sako out wide to feed the ball through to Afobe.
Wigan for their part continued to play a passing game but all too often opted to pass sideways rather than have a direct attempt on goal. When they did go for goal it was usually from McClean once again tasked with the role of a lone striker but he failed on a couple of occasions to trouble the keeper
Wolves thought that they had doubled their lead but a clear handball from Afobe in the build up was spotted by the linesman but the referee in one of several contentious decisions during the game chose not to book the striker.
McClean was then involved in another spat ,this one with Dicko which drew several other players in as the game threatened to boils over with the current and former Wigan players both going into the referee’s note book.
Carson was then called upon to make a fine save when Edwards was through on goal, making a fine save with his legs and then the keeper thwarted Edwards again tipping a goalbound header around the post.
Wigan then had two contentious decisions go against them, the first when a goal mouth scramble saw the ball fall to Perch who slotted it home only for the referee to rule the goal out for offside although replays seem to show that the ball came off a defender thereby playing Perch onside
The second was the denial of a penalty when Stearmanappeared to handle a powerful shot at close range with both hands, the referee who was well placed waving away the loud protestations from the Wigan players.
WIgan continued to push for the equaliser but the only real action of note was a bad fouled by McClean which resulted in the Irishman receiving his second yellow card and first choice of the showers.
The final whistle brought to an end a home league campaign which only accrued three wins and the fans left the stadium knowing that they could be relegated on Tuesday if Rotherham managed to secure a point at home to Reading, a relegation which will be deserved following a pitiful goal scoring rate which only Blackpool has failed to surpass.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Carson…..7, produced some fine save.
Pearce……6, another hard working effort
Perch…….7, a fine captain’s effort.
Maguire…7.5, imperious in defence, adventurous in attack. Man of the Match
Boyce……6, a good effort in probably his last home game for Wigan
Bong…….6, some questionable positional play in defence, good in attack.
Pennant…6, faded after the break, withdrawn.
Kvist……….6, solid, withdrawn.
Kim………..7, constantly probing for a weakness in the Wolves defence
Chow……..6, neat and tidy play, tenacious in defence. withdrawn
McClean… 6, effort was there but again played with his heart rather than his head, sent off.
Fortune for Kvist……7, good quick lay offs and held the ball up well.
McKay for Pennant…6, his best effort in a Latics shirt.
Cowie for Chow……..5, contributed little
Entertainment Rating 7/10 free flowing and exciting
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