A last gasp goal from Nick Powell gave Wigan a draw against a resurgent Bolton in a local derby, that the away side can consider themselves lucky to emerge with anything from the game. They were so poor for the first sixty minutes and yet had Gomez converted a last minute injury time penalty it could have been even better.
As it was, Wigan have Al Habsi to thank for a string of fine saves which kept a tired Wigan side in the game although he should have done better for the goal , failing to react quickly to the inswinging free kick which put Bolton ahead.
Wigan welcomed back centre half Barnett to the team along with only McClean, Al Habsi, McArthur and Perch retaining their places from the defeat at QPR.
Bolton started the game on the front foot and could have been two nil up in the first five minutes, when first Hall forced Al Habsi into a double save and then Jutkiewicz forced a fingertip save from the Omani international.
Wigan’s defence looked disjointed with both full backs looking off their games and Boyce and Barnett seemingly unclear who to pick up asd Bolton driven forwards by Lee and Davies poured forwards in search of an opening goal with Al Habsi forced into a couple more fine saves.
For Wigan the inexplicable tactic of a long high ball for Fortune to chase was to be the tactic of the first half and when up against possibly the three biggest defenders in the division, Marc-Antoine has little to show for his efforts
Unsurprisingly Wigan had little to show for their endeavours and it was no surprise when they fell behind when Beausejour fouled Lee on the Bolton right.. Hall swung the ball in towards the far post and Al Habsi who had been superb until now, allowed the presence off Jutkiewitcz to distract him and the powerful forward managed to deflect the ball on its path into the goal.
This should have been the wake up call Wigan needed but too many players looked off their game in the first half with the honourable exception of Gomez and once again Al Habsi was the busier of the two keepers with only a simple save for Bogdan from Waghorn to show for their efforts.
The second half saw the introduction of McManaman on the left wing in place of the ineffective McClean as Wigan strove in vein to get the game back to level pegging and it was Bolton again who looked the more dangerous with several chances including a piledriver from the man in the mask Reims who was allowed to run unchallenged from his own half and fire a shot which Al Habsi tipped over for a corner.
Wigan then had a narrow escape when Barnett brought down Trotter on the edge of the penalty area. With the big defender appearing to be the last man , the Wigan fans broke into sighs of relief in contrast to the howls of derision from the home fans as the referee merely awarded a yellow card.
The game turned on the introduction of Powell in the seventieth minute which allowed McManaman to switch to the right and Powell to play wide on the left.
Suddenly Wigan looked a different team, playing with pace and the slick ground passing suddenly had the Bolton back four back pedaling as the away side poured forwards in search of the equaliser.
It appear that these efforts would be in vain when in the dying minutes of normal time, Powell latched onto a loose ball in the penalty area and fired home to send the four thousand or so Wigan fans behind the goal wild with delight.
It almost got better , when with time added on, McManaman had his legs taken from under him for one of the clearest penalties you will ever see despite the home sides protests.
Gomez stepped up to take the resulting kick but his placed kick lacked power and was comfortably saved by Bogdan and in all honesty it would have been a travesty if Wigan had snatched a victory, their efforts in the last twenty minutes just about meriting a draw, although without Al Habsi’s heroics it would have been a very different result.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Al Habsi…..9, at fault for the goal and yet still clear MOM.
Perch…..5, exposed for pace all afternoon.
Boyce….6, under pressure form the Bolton frontline.
Barnett…..5, indecisive and lucky not to see red.
McArthur…..5, tired, withdrawn.
Tunnicliffe…..4, contributed very little, withdrawn
Gomez…..7, best outfielder until that penalty miss.
Fortune…..5, worked hard, never looked like scoring though.
McClean….6., unlucky to be withdrawn there were worse players on show.
McManaman….7,( for McClean) looked sharp when switched to the right.
Collison……6, ( for Tunnicliffe) injected some steel in to midfield.
Powell……..7, looked sharp and took his goal well.
Att…….. 18, 853
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