Paul Scharner rose unchallenged to head an undeserved equaliser to rob Wigan of the three points they deserved after a totally dominant performance lacking only in the composure to finish off the plethora of chances. Roberto Martinez opted to rotate his squad handing a deserved start to Shaun Maloney instead of Gomez and restoring Di Santo up front replacing the injured Rodallega. Player of the first half of the season Momo Diame once again mystifying reduced to bench warming duties.
Wigan started a high tempo and could have been three nil up in the first five minutes and all these chances fell to Di Santo, the first when Moses fed him on the left side but he snatch his shot which ballooned over the bar. He then shot wide following a Beausejour cross when it seemed easier to score, before he found his range forcing Foster into a good save. Wigan looked far more positive than of late and with Maloney looking sharp in midfield and proving a constant thorn for the Baggies midfield, Malumbo in particular whose temper gradually rose throughout the game. Beausejour on the left and Boyce on the right provided willing outlets and the latter was unlucky not to score when his header came back off the bar.
Di Santo chased and harried the Baggies defence and Moses troubled the away side sporadically with some quite sublime play . James McCarthy also hit the bar with a powerful shot and the half time whistle brought a bemused response from the Wigan faithful who couldn’t believe how their first half performance had not resulted in a glut of goals against a West Brom side who prior to today had one of the best away records in the Premier League but had been totally outclassed .
The second half started in much the same vein but it seemed that Wigan were fated not to score when a goal mouth scramble caused by a fantastice run by Moses wasn’t cleared and McArthur put his body on the line to steer the ball home. Wigan buoyed by this continued to push forwards looking for the second and hopefully killer goal. It didn’t happen and a sliced clearance by Maynor Figueroa gave West Brom a corner which was headed out for another corner. From this ex Latics legend rose unchallenged to head the ball powerfully into the net leaving both Wigan players and supporters in a state of shock.
Wigan spurred on by a vociferous home crowd continued to press forwards for a winner but time and again they were unlucky with the post again, deflected clearances and good saves keeping the scoreline level. Martinez opted to bring Diame and McManaman on and once again the big Senegalese midfielder shot wide when it seemed easier to score. McManaman touted as the bright hope for the future played on adrenaline and shot widely when a calmer head might have prevailed.
Two major talking points from the second half were the referee’s failure to award Wigan a penalty when Boyce was visibly held down when a cross came into the area and the referee’s failure to send Malumbo off, merely deeming the assault by hitting McArthur across the head a yellow card offence and then Mr Oliver compounded this error by booking Boyce who acted as peacemaker.
Full time brought much applause from the crowd for a totally committed performance but with tough games looming and with Wigan still being rooted to the bottom of the division it may well be too little to late and the lack of options up front that have resulted in a lack of goals will be seen to be a major factor if Wigan fail to beat the drop.
Team and Player Ratings
Al Habsi……6 one of his quieter afternoons
Boyce……….9 MOM was involved in everything
Caldwell.…..8 another captain’s performance.
Alcaraz……..8 performed well.
Figueroa……7 did little wrong.
Beausejour….8 Wigan’s main attacking outlet.
McArthur…..7 Worked hard, took his goal well.
McCarthy..…7 grew in stature as the game went on.
Moses………7 drifted in and out of the game, brilliant when he could be bothered.
Maloney……8 the creative attacking midfielder we have been lacking all season.
Di Santo……7 did everything bar what he’s paid for ….score
Diame………..6 wasted a really good chance
McManaman…6 played on adrenaline
Subs not used
Kirkland, Stam, Gomez, Watson
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