WIgan and QPR scrapped to a two all draw and a rain swept D.W.stadium today but such was the performance of both sides , neither can take many positives out of either the performance or the result.
Injury and suspension hit Wigan were down to only two fit defenders and as a result central midfielder David Jones found himself press ganged into the left sided centre half position, with McArthur slotting into midfield and Lopez replacing the suspended Caldwell with Boyce being handed the captain’s armband.
The bench for Wigan had a lopsided look with; veteran keeper Pollitt was accompanied by Maloney returning from injury along with Boselli and four youngsters in Redmond, Golobart, Fyvie and McManaman , the latter four of whom would not look out of place at the Latics junior Christmas party !
QPR with Rednapp’s organisation looked the brighter from the start and Wigan’s back three were on the back foot for most of the first ten minutes with a lack of support from midfield and a determination by the away side to pressurise the inexperienced Jones with Mackie and Wright-Phillips both prominent for the away side. Rangers had the first chance when Wigan failed to clear the ball effectively and a powerful shot was tipped away superbly by Al Habsi in the Wigan goal.
Wigan gradually grew into the game but with Beausejour having an off day with his crosses, most of the good play came through man of the match Stam with his powerful runs and crosses. Unfortunatley for the home side, the main target man Kone had a poor game both in terms of control, accuracy and position and Stam and others good work came to nothing.
Di Santo worked hard and it was evident that he had been targeted as the danger man such was the numbers of time he was upended in tackles which resulted in free kicks to Wigan but no bookings for any foul on Di Santo by referee Mr Dowd.
All too often , as in previous games Wigan failed to make the possession tell with too many players opting to put an extra pass in instead of shooting and today the normal fluent football was sadly lacking as the play was disjointed with very little flow or pattern to it.
One honourable exception was James McCarthy whose stature is growing by the game and he showed his colleagues how to finish when he drilled a shot through a crowd of players past Robert Green for the opening goal after Rangers had failed to clear a Beausejour corner.
Wigan struggle to keep clean sheets with none at home in the league this season and today was no exception as Ranger’s captain Nelson rose unchallenged from a Taarabt corner to head the ball past Al Habsi for a goal they in all honesty didn’t deserve.
The rest of the half continued in the same vein with Wigan continuing to dominate possession but all to often conceeding possession with Beausejour and Kone the main culprits and Rangers unable to take advantage of these early Christmas gifts.
Wigan started the second half the more positive and with Jordi Gomez more to the fore, three chances in three minutes gave an indication it wasn’t to be Wigan’s afternoon. First Gomez forced a fine save out of Green and then following the corner, a goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall to Gomez who from an acute angle hit the bar. Shortly afterwards Wigan again came close to scoring when a Jones shot took a deflection wrong footing Green who managed to tip the ball away.
Wigan continued to dominate but all too often the eagle eyes of the linesman was enough to halt Kone in his tracks for offside. When the big Ivorian did manage to stay onside he was quickly closed down and as a result he failed to trouble Green in the Rangers’ goal.
Wigan have been accused of conceeding soft goals and today was no exception when a poor pass out of defence by Lopez put Boyce under pressure. Wright-Phillips “pinched ” the ball and fed substitute Cisse who showed the composure lacking in his opposite number Kone and slotted the ball past Al Habsi for a surprise and undeserved lead.
Wigan bounced back when McCarthy yet again pounced on a loose ball and fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net. Wigan continued to press and had a good shout in injury time for a penalty for a foul on Gomez but Mr Dowd wasn’t interested. Rangers troubled Wigan from a couple of corners but the full time whistle brought to an end a dull uninspiring match with two teams seemingly destined to be battling against relegation come May time. The only consolation for Wigan being that they have a myriad of injuries and have played better this season and will have to again if they are to retain their Premeir League status.
Line Up and Player Ratings
Al Habsi…..6, awful kicks constantly put his defence under pressure, two excellent saves
Lopez….7, a solid performance but at fault for the second goal.
Boyce….7.5 , a steady no frills performance.
Jones….6, played out of position and it showed, gave his all though.
Stam….8.5 Man of match, attacked with pace and crossed with accuracy.
Beausejour….5, poor crossing and passing, looked very out of sorts.
Gomez….7, unlucky not to score.
McArthur…..6.5, worked hard but didnt look fully fit
McCarthy….8, ran midfield and scored two fine goals.
Di Santo…..7, tried hard, but didn’t trouble Green.
Kone…. 5, a poor performance, too often offside or took the wrong option, poor ball control.
Maloney….6, little chance to shine, didn’t look match fit.
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