Wigan slumped to their first home defeat of the season turning in a performance which lacked direction and drive and as the players trooped off at full time , manager Owen Coyle could be left in doubt as to how the home faithful viewed the performance.
Owen Coyle selected the same line up as per the last league game away at Yeovil with Fortune preferred to Holt once again to lead the attack with in from young keeper Lee Nicholls continuing in goal in the absence of injured Scott Carson.
Both sides started brightly, attacking from deep with pace with both midfields looking disjointed, thus allowing forwards from both sides to press forwards on the oppsoign defences.
The first chance for Wigan came from a set piece where from a corner by Watson, Barnett shot wide of the post. Brighton hit back almost immediately when the Wigan defence was caught napping and Saltor who gave Perch a torrid time all afternoon forced Nicholls into the first of many fine saves during the game.
Marc Albrighton it what could be the last game of his loan spell grew in confidence as the game went on attacking down the right and a fine cross from the by line found McCann but Kusczak saved well. Watson and Fortune then linked well with a neat one to but the Englishman’s shot went narrowly wide.
Wigan upped their game and there followed a fifteen minute period of dominance during which Powell wasted a couple of good opportunities. Brighton gradually clawed their way back into the game as Watson and McCann failed to dominate the central midfield and the back four lacked the organisation to deal with Brighton’s attacks thereby increasing the pressure on Nichols in the Wigan goal.
Brighton appeared to have benefitted the most from their half time team talk as they tore into the Wigan defence as Barnes was allowed to advance down the left and his cross found Forster-Cakey whose header was comfortably saved by Nicholls.
This should have served as a warning to Wigan but instead they retreated to defend deeper allowing the away side to dominate possession in search of the opening goal with Wigan becoming increasingly reliant on breakaways from the dangerous Albrighton and Powell although all too often when the ball found its way to Fortune, his poor control allowed the away defence to clear the ball with ease.
Wigan threw Holt on for the struggling Fortune and the big Cumbrian did well to shake off the attentions of Greer and bore down on the keeper who advanced from his goal to narrow the angle. When it seemed to all int he ground that Holt must score , his attempt to palce his shot into the far corner went well wide and Holt’s reaction to hold his head in his hands left everyone in no doubt as to how bad a miss it was.
Brighton made Wigan [pay almost immediately when Forster-Caskey forced the save of the season from Nicholls but the loose ball fell to Crofts who headed the ball unchallenged into the net.
Wigan sparked into life and with substitute McClean looking dangerous on the left they poured men forwards seeking an equaliser but the majority of these forays came to naught.
Brighton were content to soak up this pressure and almost got a second when once again man of the match Wigan keeper Lee Nicholls had to produce a excellent save, this time to deny Conway
Holt almost redeemed himself for his earlier miss, when a good cross from McClean was headed goalwards from close range but Kuszcak saved well.
The full time whistle brought to an end a game which once again for the home fans was short on quality and major improvements are needed across the team if Wigan are to challenge for a return to the Premier League come May 2014
Team Line up and Match ratings
Nicholls……..9, man of the match by a country mile.
Boyce….6, failed in inspire those around him.
Shotton…. 6.5, the best of a back four
Barnett….6, tried hard
Perch…..5, struggled out of position
McManaman….5.5, isolated out on the left for most of the game, withdrawn.
Watson…..5.5., ineffectual, poor set pieces.
Powell…..6, never stopped trying, became isolated when switched onto the wing
Albrighton….6, looked sharp, surprisingly withdrawn
Fortune….5, failed to impose himself on the game. Withdrawn.
Holt for Fortune….5, a miss thast will haunt him for a while
McClean for Albrighton…..6, looked sharp.
Gomez for McManaman..
..5, failed to make an impression.
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