A superb free flowing performance of pace creativity and clinical finishing from table topping Bournemouth against a spirited Wigan Athletic side saw the away side take home the three points to the South coast with Wigan left to rue what might have been but for poor referring decisions and momentary lapse in concentration in defence.
Following a hectic transfer window, Wigan manager Malky Mackay opted to freshen up his starting line up, injuries to Huws and Perch meant debuts for Kim and Herd whilst Fortune and Waghorn dropped to the bench to be replaced by debutant Clarke and the returning McCann.
The first twenty minutes was end to end fare with both sides attacking with gusto, for Wigan new boy Clarke delivered a fizzing cross from the left narrowly eluding Barnett at the far post whilst for Bournemouth Kermongant forced Al Habsi to make a superb save the ball being pushed around the far post for a corner.
One area of improvement since MacKay’s arrival has been his side’s potency from set pieces and so it proved again when a powerful free kick from McClean left Boruc grasping at free air, the ball sadly from a Wigan perspective, coming back off the bar before being cleared.
Bournemouth as befits the league leaders started to exert pressure with Arter dominating the midfield and Wilson beating the Wigan defence time and again with pace and skill. Wigan had the next best chance however when a scissor kick from Kim drew gasps of appreciation from a Wigan crowd starved this season of quality play but to Bournemouth’s relief the ball went over the bar.
The opening goal had more than a whiff of controversy about it. Photographic evidence showed Wilson more than a yard offside when the ball was put through to him and with everyone in the ground aware of this bar the officials, Wilson was allowed to run in on goal and finished with aplomb past Al Habsi and Bournemouth were ahead.
Within five minutes, Bournemouth had doubled their lead when McCann struggled to clear the ball in the penalty area from a set piece and sharp turn and shot from the edge of the area by Kermongant found the corner of the Wigan goal.
Wigan tried to rally with front man Clarke a tireless worker and the usually effervescent McClean leading the fight but to no avail and the statistic of over two to one possession in favour of Bournemouth showed the mountain that Wigan had to climb.
Wigan made a change at half time, replacing Kim by giving a home debut to McKay but the momentum continued in favour of the away side with Wilson time and again getting the best of Ridgewell and especially Barnett
Within the first minute of the half a two handed shove by Barnett in the penalty area on Wilson, again the only people in the ground who didn’t think a penalty should have been awarded were the officials much to the relief of Barnett.
Wilson continued to give Barnett torrid time and slipped the ball past the defender outpacing him but blasting over the bar. Two minutes later though he did make it three nil, once again beating a static Barnett and firing an unstoppable shot past Al Habsi.
Wigan didn’t give up and fired by the never say die attitude of McClean they got a goal back. McClean broke down the left and fired a powerful shot across the bows of the West Brom goal where Clarke who had bust a gut to get up in support tapped the ball home for a goal on his debut.
Substitute Oji gave Wigan width on the right and a few jinking runs lifted the crowd and with McKay running well off Clarke the Wigan fans began to sense a remarkable comeback.
It wasn’t to be however despite good chances to both Ridgewell and Barnett and Bournemouth hung on for a well deserved victory with Wigan left to take the positives which largely centred on the performances of their new signings.
Team Line Up and Player Ratings.
Al Habsi…….5.5, could do little with the goals.
Herd…………..6, some tenacious tackling ( withdrawn)
Barnett……….4, an afternoon to forget.
Ridgewell…….5, made to work hard by a powerful attacking Bournemouth side.
Taylor…………5, struggled against the pacy away attack.
Kvist………….7, kept the side in it when Bournemouth were in the ascendancy
Kim……………6, showed some lovely creative touches ( withdrawn)
McCann………5, strangely subdued
Cowie…………5, faded in midfield then filled in at right back.
McClean………7.5, MOM, Deserves the accolades for his commitment.
Clarke………….6.5, gave WAFC a presence in the penalty area they had been missing
McKay…………..6, ( for Kim), some promising signs .
Oji…………………5.5, very skilful but needs to add application
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