A late goal from never say die Wigan secured another point in the battle against relegation, a result which they thoroughly deserved and had the referee spotted a blatant handball by Ivanovic in the penalty area the result could have been even better.
Roberto Martinez opted to retain the same starting line up that secured three points last week at The Hawthorns with Antolin Alcaraz having made a recovery from his bruised rib.
The game started slowly with Chelsea exerting most of the pressure but being unable to penetrate a superb home defence well marshalled by vocal Wigan captain Gary Caldwell. There has been much criticism of Wigan’s backline but since the switch to a back three with two wing backs and the introduction of Ronnie Stam the defence has look far more secure.
Wigan seemed content to soak up the pressure and look to catch Chelsea on the break with Victor Moses the main outlet for any attacking moves. Most of Wigan’s attacking moves in the first thirty minutes tended to be stimulated by long balls from the back so deep were the Wigan midfield and too often Conor Sammon was left to plough a lone furrow up front.
Wigan’s first real chance was when Gomez found himself in the penalty area but as he moved towards goal he went to ground with Martin Atkinson declining his first of several penalty claims.
For Chelsea, their best efforts were from long range with Romeu having a powerful goal bound shot superbly tipped around the post by Al Habsi.
In midfield there was a tremendous battle betweenChelsea’s playmaker Frank Lampard andWigan’s Momo Diame which the young Senegalese player just shaded
Chelsea’s main attacking threat came from Daniel Sturridge who gave both David Jones and Maynor Figueroa a severe examination of their Premier League credentials.
As the half continued Wigan grew in confidence with McCarthy looking back to his best and Stam providing an attacking foil on the right and on several occasions, Chelsea were forced to make last ditch clearances when under pressure from theWiganattacking force.
From one of these chances a powerful shot from Moses struck Ivanovic on the arm and once again Mr Atkinson waved away the penalty claims although replays show that on this occasion Chelsea should have been penalised.
The half time whistle brought a chorus of boos from the home supporters, not this time because of the home performance but because of some perceived errors by the officials.
Wigan started the second half in the same vein as they had ended the first with McCarthy and Diame driving the team forward ably supported by Figueroa and Stam but all too often the moves petered out with little support in the penalty area.
Chelsea had very few chances to score and unfortunately for the home side when presented with their first clear cut chance they took it. A wonderful ball from Cole found Sturridge unmarked on the right wing, he cut inside Figueroa and blasted the ball past Al Habsi in the Wigan goal.
In the past this would have sparked a Wigan collapse but there is a new found spirit in the Wigan camp and they continued to push forward looking for an equaliser roared on by a vociferous home crowd. Figueroa whose attacking runs caused Chelsea problems all afternoon cut inside and his goal bound shot was well saved by Cech, pushing the ball around the post for a corner.
Chelsea for their part resorted to some time-wasting tactics which only served to spur Wigan on.
Wigan showed their intent taking off the industrious Sammon and defensive Jones replacing them with the attack minded Rodallega and Di Santo and immediately the team had more shape and purpose with the two substitutes linking up well with each other and Moses.
Moses had a great chance when he turned two players but couldn’t control his shot which went high and wide and out for a throw in.
Wigan continued to press forward for the equaliser and a Rodallega shot was parried by a fractious Cech and Ivanovic had to clear the goal bound attempt from Di Santo off the line.
Wigan used this to good effect when Di Santo broke down the right wing and fed Rodallega, his shot was only partially blocked by Cech and the lose ball was blasted into the net by Gomez and Wigan and a deserved equaliser.
Wigan could have won it when in injury time Di Santo was felled on the edge of the area in what was a clear cut foul. Once again Mr Atkinson waved away claims for a penalty and as he blew the full time whistle the cheers around the ground signalled the appreciation from the home fans for what was the best performance of the season so far.
Wigan Line up and ratings
Al Habsi….( 8 ) a couple of good saves
Alcaraz…..( 8 ) excellent performance
Caldwell…. ( 8 ) marshalled the team superbly
Stam………( 9 ) a revelation as a wing back
Figueroa….( 8 ) best performance of the season
McCarthy…( 8 ) outshone his more illustrious opponents
Moses….( 7 ) worked hard , last ball let him down too often
Gomez…( 8) some wonderful touches from the enigmatic Spaniard
Jones…..( 6.5 ) worked hard
Diame….( 9.5) Man of the match performance again
Sammon.. ( 6.5 ) isolated up front but never stopped trying.
Di Santo….( 8 ) turned the game against his former club.
Rodallega…( 8 ) showed his old form when he came on
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