During the week Alan Pardew earned the ire of the Wigan faithful by reportedly suggesting Newcastle be given an increased allocation for today’s match. By full time the empty seats were evident in the away end as Wigan passed their more illustrious opponents off the pitch with football which would have earned back page headlines if it had been by Barcelona rather than “little Wigan”.
Roberto Martinez opted to make one change from the side which so nearly earned a point at Fulham last week, recalling the talismanic Shaun Maloney in place of Jordi Gomez. On the bench there were recalls for injured duo Hugo Rodallega and Albert Crusat.
Wigan started the more positive and looked to pass their way upfield with once again the Scottish central midfield trio of Maloney, McArthur and McCarthy looking extremely comfortable and controlled when in possession and tenacious when defending. Time and again when Newcastle had the ball they lost it in the tackle or delivered a wayward pass due to at least two Wigan players harranging them time and again.
This midfield play allowed the wing backs to push forward and Boyce and Moses combination looked especially dangerous with Coloccini apparently vulnerable to being attacked on the outside with pace.
This was against a Newcastle team looking to secure a European spot for next season although on today’s form a beach on the Costas’ seems more likely as Wigan never let them settle and seemed likely to score every time they attacked.
The first goal when it did come had an element of luck in that as Moses jumped unchallenged in the penalty area the ball appeared to go in off his neck but this shouldn’t negate from the excellent build up play when a fantastic crossfield ball from Maloney found Boyce steaming up the right wing in support. His pin point cross found Moses’ neck and Wigan were one nil in front.
Within two minutes it was two nil when Maloney and Moses linked well to feed Beausejour and when his cross was openly half cleared there was no element of luck as Moses calmly drilled a superb shot past Tim Krul and a defence that hadn’t conceded a goal in four games had now conceded two in fifteen minutes.
Wigan continued to press forward and the much vaunted strike pairing of Ba and Cisse were reduced to mere spectators with the Wigan back three of Caldwell, Alcaraz and the sublime Figueroa dealing with anything and everything coolly, calmly and collectedly.
Latics continued to pass the ball along the grass and it isn’t known if Martinez is a fan of snooker but if he is he wont find any better ball placement at the Crucible than he saw today.
The third goal again came from good work in midfield when the ever industrious Di Santo threaded a perfect ball through for Maloney, a cross seemed the best option but the diminutive Scot had other ideas, curling the ball past the despairing dive of Krul and Wigan were three up.
Still Newcastle couldn’t break the stranglehold of the Wigan midfield and with just seconds to go in the first half, Di Santo got his reward for another tremendously hardworking performance when he received yet another great ball from Maloney on the edge of the penalty area and his curling shot deflected off nobodies’ backside leaving Wigan four goals to the good in their best forty five minutes of the season.
The second half saw no changes and Wigan seemed content to sit back and defend deep, confident in their ability to soak up pressure and once again Figueroa was the standout rock at the back, nullifying Newcastles increasingly frequent attacks.
For all the increased pressure it wasn’t until the 62nd minute that Ali in the Wigan goal was forced into a save but what a save it was, the Omani international tipping the ball over the bar from Cisse.
Newcastle continued to exert pressure and twice the woodwork saved Wigan with Cisse twice denied , the second time a header into an open goal which a striker of his quality should have buried with ease.
Wigan continued to play the ball around with ease, with some passing moves totalling over forty passes and twice almost extended their lead, Krul producing a fine one handed save to deny Moses his hat-trick and Coloccini denying Sammon his first goal of the season after his tremendous determined run saw his shot cleared of the line with the keeper well beaten.
The final whistle brought a crescendo of cheers from a fantastically noisy Wigan support recognising that their team had gone a long way to securing their Premier League status for another season.
Team and Player Ratings
Al Habsi…8 did everything asked of him.
Caldwell…8 a captain’s performance
Alcaraz…..8 confident and assured
Boyce……8 great going forward and defending
Beausejour.7 like the curate’s egg, good in parts
McCarthy…9 his best performance in a Latics’ shirt
McArthur…9 ditto McCarthy
Maloney…9.5 at the heart of everything, man of the match again
Di Santo…9 tremendous performance and goal
Sammon…. 7 ran around a lot, unlucky not to score.
Gomez……7 showed some nice touches
Subs not used
Pollitt, Crusat, Jones, Rodallega, Diame
Att 22, 187
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