A 90thminute scrambled goal by Aroune Kone gave Wigan a hard fought win and the accompanying three points in a game which had everything; passion, skill, controversy, two sendings off and a terrible injury all thrown into a cauldron of a football match which had all 22,000 plus fans on the edge of their seats.
Roberto Martinez opted to retain the same starting line up from the team which performed magnificently at Everton last week which meant no return to the starting line up for captain Caldwell or regular keeper Ali Al Habsi.
The game started off at a frenetic pace with McCarthy controlling the centre midfield for Wigan ably supported by Maloney and McManaman , the latter handed his full Premier League debut.
Latics full of confidence dominated the opening exchanges and took the lead on the 18thminute when good work by McManaman down the right saw the young Liverpudlian cross into the area, Newcastle failed to clear the ball which fell to Beausejour and the Chilean international cooly slotted the ball into the net for a deserved lead for Wigan.
Wigan continued to pile on the pressure with Kone proving a real handful for the Newcastle defence but Wigan debutant Robles had to show quick reactions to save a close range header from Marveaux following good work by Taylor.
At the other end a superb break by McCarthy through the middle of the pitch saw him robbed as he was shaping to shoot by a superb tackle by Gutierrez and Maloney tested Elliot with a superb curling shot and Gomez went close with a free kick.
The games main talking point was the tackle by McManaman on Haidara which resulted in the Newcastle player being stretchered off. T.V. replays show that McManaman’s studs hit Haidara on the knee but the referee was unsighted and McManaman can expect retrospective action and a possible ban which may rule him out of the semi final in three weeks time.
Newcastle players were understandably upset by the tackle which was rash but not malicious in my opinion and as the players left the pitch a confrontation between the two members of the managerial staff resulted in red cards being issued by the referee.
Newcastle came out fired up in the second half with Cisse very much to the fore and roared on by their usual passionate travelling support they pushed forwards in search of an equaliser. Tackles continued to fire in from both sides and the referee did well to keep control of the match. Roberto Martinez decided after ten minutes of the second half to withdraw McManaman a wise move with emotions running so high but not before McManaman had a good chance to double the lead when he took too long trying to place a shot allowing the defenders to get back and block his shot.
His replacement McArthur immediately made an impression linking well with McCarthy before seeing his shot blocked by the away defence.
Newcastle continued to push forwards in search of an equaliser and their efforts were rewarded when Santon broke down the right cut inside and fired the ball across Robles and into the net to the delight of the fans situated behind that goal.
Newcastle continued to push forward in search of the winner but Wigan’s defence superbly marshalled by Antolin Alcaraz held firm. Substitute Di Santo had a shot blocked by Taylor’s hand which should have resulted in a penalty and with Maloney and Kone both constant thorns in the away side’s defence, the latter won a corner with a deflected shot off Tiote.
The corner wasn’t cleared and bounced around the area and with the Newcastle players claiming for a handball, Kone scored to give Wigan a much needed victory in their battle to escape the drop.
Team Line ups and ratings
Robles……7, Showed good command of his area.
Boyce……7, Led by example.
Scharner……8. Continued his fine run of form.
Alcaraz……9, Showing how much we have missed him, MOM.
Figueroa…..8, As dependable as ever.
Beausejour…..7, Showed composure to take his goal, withdrawn.
McCarthy…..8.5, Back to his imperious best.
Gomez……7, Some excellent creative touches and tackled !
McManaman……7, Played well apart from that tackle, withdrawn.
Kone…..8, Led the line by example.
Maloney…..8, The most constantly attacking player in the club.
McArthur ( for McManaman 58), ……7 worked hard in midfield.
Di Santo ( for Beausejour 79 ) ……..N/A
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