Wigan made the trip to a cold Royal Berkshire to take on fellow relegation threatened Reading in what many fans viewed as a must win game. A superb team effort saw them return with three goals,a brace for Kone, the first clean sheet in seven Premier League games and most importantly the three points for a comprehensive win which lifted them out of the relegation places on goal difference from Aston Villa
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, his team fresh from a comfortable F.A.Cup win against Huddersfield last week opted to rotate the squad bringing back Al Habsi, Boyce , Caldwell, Di Santo, McCarthy and Beausejour into the starting line up with last weeks man of the match Callum McManaman having to be content with a place on the bench.
If both sides were nervous about being in a relegation battle, neither showed it as both Reading and Wigan started the game with purpose, looking to play the ball with skill on a cold hard pitch which like the DW is shared with a rugby side. It was Wigan who had the first chance when Di Santo managed to slip his marker and fired a powerful shot towards the bottom corner, forcing Frederici into a good save.
Reading came right back at Wigan and Akpan should have done better when he headed harmlessly over following good work by Karacan. Another header over the bar followed this time from Scharner following good work from Maloney as Wigan looked to increase the tempo as they strived for their sixth win of the season and fourth on the road. The game continued in its end to end style and Kebe fired a powerful shot into the side netting which due to the angle caused celebration from a section of the crowd who though that the ball had gone into the net.
This was the catalyst for Reading to increase the pressure on Wigan with the wingers Kebe and McAnuff looking to utilise their pace to get behind the Wigan wing backs Boyce and Beausejour but with the wing back operating as part of a back five when defending the Wigan five with Figueroa and Scharner to the fore held firm.
Wigan continued to stick to the Martinez philosophy playing the ball out from the back looking to break down the opposition but Reading operating a five man midfield comfortably nullified any Wigan attacking moves with the best chance falling to Kone who forced a fine save out of Frederici.
Just when the game seemed to be heading for its half time break goalless, two goals in as many minutes completely changed the nature of the proposed half time team talks.
The first came from a good corner by Beausejour, the ball came to Figueora who flicked the ball goalwards, hitting the chest of Kone , thus leaving Frederici with no chance and Wigan had the lead. If there was a dispute as to who the scorer of the first goal was, there was no doubt as to the second as Beausejour again proved to be the creator, his through ball found Kone whose delicate chip over the advancing Frederici landed in the net and Wigan strode into the dressing room two goals to the good to the delight of their noisy travelling away support.
Any impetus delivered by Brian McDermott’s half team talk was almost immeadately negated by a resurgent Wigan side who made it three nil within three minutes of the restart. This time Figueroa was justified in claiming the goal as a through ball from Di Santo saw the Honduran through on goal and his shot beat Frederici and gave Wigan an unassailable lead.
Any hope from the Reading faithful that they could claw back the deficit was further extinguished when their Russian striker Pogrebnyak saw given a straight red for a nasty tackle on Figueroa.
This effectively killed the game as a contest with Wigan content to pass the ball around and retain possession with Figueroa having the best chance drawing another good save from Frederici.
Towards the end of the game Wigan fans were further heartened by the welcome return of key defender Antolin Alcaraz which bodes well for Wigan’s survival chances.
Al Habsi, Scharner, Caldwell ( c ), Figueroa, Boyce, Beausejour, McArthur, McCarthy, Kone, Di Santo, Maloney
Gomez for Di Santo 75, Alcaraz for Boyce 83
Man of the Match………Shaun Maloney
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