Marathon men near the finish line

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Wigan Athletic last night secured a playoff spot with a battling one nil victory over relegation threatened Birmingham City but were made to fight all the way as a tired Wigan Athletic side lacking the flowing creative football of a few weeks ago stuttered over the course of the game before securing the crucial three points

Uwe Rosler following the poor performance against Blackpool opted to freshen the starting eleven with recalls for Kiernan and club captain Caldwell in a back three with Carson taking Al Habsi’s place in the goal.

If nerves were in evidence they were quickly negated as a lovely break through midfield by Gomez saw the Spaniard find McManaman on the left and he cut inside and fired a powerful shot past the despairing Rudolph and Wigan were ahead sending the large travelling away support into a paroxysm of delight.

Latics failed to take advantage of this early goal and with too many passes going astray and little quality ball finding the ever willing Waghorn, Birmingham with captain Burke to the fore gradually began to claw their way back into the game and Wigan’s three central defenders, Boyce, Caldwell and Kiernan had to be on top of their game to nullify any threat. That said Birmingham were restricted to one good chance in the first half with Carson making a fine save to tip a goal bound shot from Manchester City loanee Huys away for a corner.

For Wigan, Maloney and McManaman were always dangerous but Wigan failed to settle into the passing style of play that has become synonymous with Rosler and too many balls found their way into touch as both sides resorted to long balls.

Birmingham played a very physical game with Gomez and Maloney being the recipients of some enthusiastic challenges and Waghorn was left chasing shadows as the Birmingham centre halves marked him out of the game restricting him to very few opportunities.

The second half was played in much the same vein but as Wigan tired , Birmingham with big target mad Zigic a half time substitute sensed that maybe they could get something out of the game gradually pushed forwards with another substitute Jordan Ibe testing Perch and Boyce down the Birmingham left on numerous occasions.

Wigan held firm but never looked like increasing their slender lead and could have lost their lead had Huws not shot over when well placed in the penalty area. Birmingham continued to press in the dying embers of the game and two smart saves by Carson ensured that Wigan got the three points needed to secure a playoff spot but the players and manager celebrated in front of the noisy away following no doubt fully aware that a vast improvement will be needed if they are to progress in the play offs

Team line up and player ratings
Carson…….7, Good , some fine saves but bloody awful kicking
Perch………6, OK, a solid performance, struggled going forwards.
Caldwell…..8,EXCELLENT, MOM , organised the defence superbly.
Boyce……..7, GOOD, Worked hard as always.
Kiernan……7, GOOD, get better with every game.
Beausejour….6, OK a quiet game, little going forward.
Maloney…….6, OK, showed a few nice touches, withdrawn
Gomez………6, OK, a lovely ball for the goal, much fouled.
McArthur……6, OK, solid and unfussy
Waghorn……6, OK, any attacking threat was snuffed out, withdrawn.
McManaman..7, GOOD the main creative spark but went to ground too easily

Subs Used
Fortune for Waghorn…..5, POOR, offered every little
Maynard for McManaman…..N/A
Barnett for Maloney…………N/A

Att……….20, 427

Match entertainment rating…..4/10 to tense and too much at stake to be a classic

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