A rollercoaster of a game saw Wigan come back twice to secure a late winner from Callum McManaman to give fresh impetus to Wigan’s perennial battle to escape relegation
Roberto Martinez sprang a surprise prior to the kick off with his team selection, recalling broken leg victim Ben Watson for his first premier league start in six months in place of James McArthur with Ronnie Stam as expected coming in to replace the injured Maynor Figueroa.
Both teams started brightly in the warm West Midlands spring sunshine with Wigan with James McCarthy pulling the strings for Wigan in midfield and McManaman and Maloney providing willing outlets, Wigan looked sharp with slick passing and good support play.
In defence however it was a different matter, with a line up that looked disjointed with players getting caught out of position, passes going astray to a West Brom side who attacked with pace with Dorrens and Long to the fore, the notable exception being Emerson Boyce who cover other errors with remarkable foresight and no little class
In attack for the Wigan, Kone looked a constant threat with his best effort a powerful long range shot from Kone which Foster had to get down quickly to save.
It was no surprise that the opening goal came from a mistake in defence, Paul Scharner who had received a warm welcome from the sporting Hawthorns crowd pushed forward with the ball but lost possession in midfield to Lukaku who fed a lovely ball down the right to Rosenberg whose cross was tapped in by a supporting Long past the static Robles in the Wigan goal.
One thing Wigan have in spades is character and roared on by a large vociferous away following they pushed forwards in search of an equaliser but for all their good approach play it looked like the best they would have to show for their endeavours was a free kick from danger man Maloney which beat Foster but unfortunately for the Wigan following narrowly went the wrong side of the post
The equaliser when it came was after a period of play that took place mainly in the Wigan half . Wigan broke through Maloney who was fouled, referee Mr Probert played advantage, the ball came out to the left to Beausejour who played a pin point first time cross into the box which found the head of Kone who rose majestically to head past Foster to the equaliser and send the Latics travelling army wild.
Both sides left the pitch at half time content in the work they had done but knowing that both teams would need to up their game to gain the three points on offer.
The second half started with no changes to either the lines ups or style of play and for the second week running Wigan were to concede a goal from a dubious free kick awarded out wide on the right.
Beausejour was adjudged to have fouled Yacob and from the resultant free kick by Dorrens, McAuley easily eluded feeble attempts by Kone to man mark him and with the resultant free header, West Brom were ahead.
Martinez immediately signalled for McArthur to come back from his warm up and along with the dynamic young Scot he made a double substitution also bringing on Golobart for Gomez and Stam respectively.
The substitution almost immediately bore fruit as a break found Watson in midfield who laid the ball off to McArthur, he found Maloney out wide on the left whose jinking run produced a fine cross to find McArthur with a diving header and Wigan were level.
Both sides continued to press for the lead in a game which apart from glimpses of quality wasn’t a classic but had a high entertainment value and total commitment from both sides.
An example of this commitment occurred when Jones broke on the right, Beausejour who was already limping dragged himself across the pitch to try and make the tackle with Robles providing the back up with a fine save. This commitment from Beausejour resulted in him being carried off with a hamstring injury more than likely exacerbated by his determination to get across the pitch to recover.
This not for the first time this season exposed Wigan’s current paucity of resources in defence with Honduran international midfielder being called upon to replace the Chilean at left back.
Wigan took the lead for the first time in the game and once again Maloney provided the key, Espinoza found Maloney on the left, he took the ball to the dead ball line beat two defenders and passed the ball into the six yard area where McManaman made no mistake to score his second Premier League goal in as many games.
West Brom didn’t fold and pushed forward once again for an equaliser as Wigan strove to hang on. A powerful shot from Dorrens was punched away by Robles for a corner and the resultant corner was tipped over the bar by Robles again. Wigan’s nerves were further tested deep into injury time when a corner was completely missed by Robles, the ball went towards the Wigan goal but McArthur headed the ball off the line.
Mr Probert blew the fulltime whistle on a thrilling, enthralling game and Wigan’s hard fought victory brought another potential relegation escape closer to fruition.
Team Line up and player ratings.
Robles…7, some fine saves.
Stam…5, caught out of position frequently, withdrawn.
Boyce…7, held the much changed back line together.
Scharner…6, not his best game.
Beasejour…7, fantastic cross for the first goal and showed his commitment even when injured, withdrawn.
McCarthy…7, another fine game
Gomez…6, not his best game, withdrawn
Watson…7, grew as the game went on, some fantastic blocks and passes.
McManaman…7, growing in stature game by game.
Kone…7, a fine header for the opening goal, never stopped trying.
McManaman…8.5, the man of the match and key to Wigan’s survival
McArthur ( for Gomez)…7.5, gave the revival impetus
Golobart ( for Stam)…5, struggled with the pace of the game.
Espinoza ( Beausejour)…6,linked well with Maloney
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