A virtuoso first half performance from Wigan’s mercurial young talent Callum McManaman was enough to secure progression to the fifth round of the F.A. cup but progess was not assured for most of the ninety minutes and had Macclesfield players displayed the same composure in front of goal as they displayed elsewhere on the pitch then the result could have been different.
Roberto Martinez as is his want, opted to rotate his squad for this cup tie with only Figueroa, Gomez and Stam retained from the team defeated by Sunderland the week before and all three new signings; Espinoza, Henriquez and Robles included in the starting line up, the latter being handed his debut.
Wigan started as the more composed side roared on by a travelling support of over two thousand and and with Fyvie looking assured in the centre of a formation that could best be described as a fluid four four two, Wigan looked to use slick passing to create space for the front men to capitalise on.
The games only goal when it came owed much to two pieces of individual briliance, the first a beautiful ball from Gomez found McManaman out wide on the left, he cut inside one defender and as he was bearing down on the keeper, a clumsy tackle by Audel felled him in the area and referee Roger East had no hesitation in awarding the penalty.
Gomez stepped up and whilst the kick was poorly placed, there was enough power to force it through the keeper’s hands and Wigan had the lead.
If the away fans thought that Wigan would kick on for a comfortable victory they were much mistaken. Wigan’s calm, methodical ( and slow) passing around midfield allowed Macclesfield to push forwards to try and close Wigan down in the hope of the away side making a mistake and when they did Macclesfield with Mackreth and Wedgebury to the fore sought to capitalise, with only the wayward final shots letting them down.
For Wigan Fyvie and McManaman tried to get the team going forwards with Figueroa and Golobart looking reasonably solid at the back. From the rest there were too many wayward passes as they were given little time to settle on the ball by their committed opponents
Where as the first half was a case of one penalty given, it was the case of one not when Mr East waved away claims of a push on Fairhurst, which as a Wigan fan at the other end of the piece looked a definate penalty.From the resultant corner, Audel rose unchallenged but headed the ball straight into the arms of Robles in the Wigan goal.
Half time brought to a close a half short on class but high on endevaour. Macclesfield started the second half the brighter and with Wigan defending deeper, it seemed only a matter of time before the home side got their equaliser. It wasn’t to be however as when the Silkmen did break through their shooting was woeful, leaving Robles merely to take dead balls when he could have been picking the ball out of the net.
Wigan’s chances were few and far between in the second half, the best falling to Dicko when he broke through only to shoot directly at the debutant loanee keeper Anyon. Manchester United loanee Henriquez cut an increasingly isloated figure as he was starved of possession as Kissock in central midfield dominated his more illustrious opponents.
Macclesfield continued to look for an equaliser and once again Mr East waved away what seemd to be a good shout for a penalty for handball against Jones and Wigan hung on for a barely deserved victory in the knowledge that they will have to up their performance if they are to progress any further in the cup as for many periods of the game there seemed to be a lot less than eighty two places seperating these two teams.
Line up and Ratings;
Robles….7, looked composed and can kick the ball !
Stam….5, struggled to defend against pace and rarely pushed forwards.
Figueroa….6, played the captain’s role well.
Golobart….6 composed on the ball but was caught by the opponents pace several times.
Mustoe….5, gave his all, improved as the game went on.
Gomez….5, out muscled in midfield, a poor performance.
Fyvie…..7, a good performance until injured.
Espinoza….6, tried hard without a lot of reward.
Dicko…..5, showed very little, looked off the pace.
Henriquez….5, a quiet game.
McManaman….7.5, man of the match,s howed committment and class so saldy lacking in his counterparts.
Jones( for Fyvie) ……6 , a solid defensive performance.
Lopez ( for Dicko)…..6, a welcome return, looked composed.
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