A potentially season ending injury to Maynor Figueroa marred what was a superb team performance from Wigan who must be wondering how they didn’t leave the DW Stadium the winners against high flying Tottenham.
Wigan manager opted to reshuffle his resources and formation replacing captain Gary Caldwell with James McArthur and switching to a fluid back five with McCarthy alternating between a centre half/sweeper when defending and a midfielder when attacking.
The game started off with Spurs very much in the ascendancy but with McCarthy superbly marshalling the rearguard Wigan looked comfortable despite the obvious threat from Bale, Dempsey and Defoe.
One criticism of Wigan’s play over the last four seasons has been the tactic of playing the ball out of defence with the defenders taking responsibility rather than the keeper kicking the ball up field. Today the tactic caught Wigan napping as poor play between Figueroa and Robles saw the ball back with the keeper with Bale bearing down on the keeper. Robles poor kick hit Bale and flew past the keeper into the Wigan net with Bale claiming credit for the softest goal he will probably ever score, a goal destined to be included in the football blooper DVD’s at the end of the season.
Wigan didn’t let this setback affect their determination and a fantastic run by McManaman who troubled Naughton all afternoon broke down the right and won a corner. The corner was whipped in by the young Liverpudlian in at pace and Boyce rose unchallenged to head the equaliser.
Shortly after the equaliser Figueroa made a superb tackle to deny Defoe and within two minutes was forced into another tackle, the latter resulting in a groin injury which resulted in the Honduran being stretchered off, being replaced by Stam with another reshuffle into a flat back four with Boyce moving to centre half.
The majority of the rest of the first half was played in the Wigan half with Kone cutting a lone figure up front on his own. Spurs looked dangerous every time the poured forwards with Bale heading just over and then close to half time Robles made a fine double side to deny first Defoe and then Parker and Wigan went into the break relieved not to have been further behind.
Wigan were late coming out for the second half but whatever was said in the break had the desired effect as Wigan tore into Spurs from the off. They were rewarded when within five minutes, Callum McManaman cut in from the right and a superb shot left Lloris stranded and Wigan were ahead with McManaman’s first ever Premier League goal.
Spurs continued to exert pressure looking for an equaliser but Wigan with McCarthy outshining his more illustrious opponents in midfield ably supported by a superb performance in the back line from Scharner they looked relatively comfortable.
Kone looked sharp chasing loose ball and on at least three occasions did all the hard work but let himself down with his final shot.
Not for the first time this season Maloney was the major creative outlet and one sublime flick put Beausejour down the left but his cross was headed wide by Kone.
Substitutes Di Santo and Stam both fired over crosses as they attacked with gusto down the right as Wigan looked to hang onto their hard earned lead.
Spurs are not a top four contender for nothing however and with substitute Lennon pushing Beausejour further back the Chilean was forced to concede a soft free kick. From this the ball was fired over by Huddleston, eluding all the Spurs attackers but unfortunately deflecting in of Boyce for an equaliser that Spurs barely deserved.
Wigan tried for the winner but Mr Atkinson brought the game to an end and Wiagn will very much feel that it is two points dropped in their relegation battle and the further defensive injury to Figueroa further compounded Roberto Martinez’s woes.
Line up and player ratings
Robles…6 , poor clearance cost Wigan the first goal, redeemed himself with a couple of fine saves.
Boyce…7, a fine goal, a captian’s performance, unlucky with the own goal.
Scharner…8.5, superb in a constantly changing backline
Figueroa…6, partly responsible for the first goal, some fine tackles, withdrawn
Beausejour…6, had his work cut out with Bale and Lennon.
McCarthy…9, Man of the match, mature beyond his years, destined for a top four club.
McArthur…8, another tenacious performance from the young Scot.
Gomez…6, subdued going forwards.
McManaman…8. excellent work on the right and a fine goal.
Maloney…8, Wigan’s main creative outlet.
Kone…7, worked hard but wasted several good chances
Stam …7, (Figueroa)
Di Santo…6.5, (McManaman)
Espinoza…7 ( Gomez)
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