Wigan’s pre season preparations ended in defeat following an entertaining game against Dundee Untied, a game which enabled Owen Coyle to assess the strengths and weakness of his new charges against a combative Scottish outfit.
Wigan set with a strong line one , once again favouring a 4-5-1 line up when defending which morphed into a 4-4-1-1 when attacking with James McCarthy playing a far more attacking role than under Martinez.
The first half was almost all Wigan, with the new centre half combination of Perch and debutant Rogne looking cool and composed, playing almost on the half way line and the central midfield triumvirate of McCarthy, McArthur and Watson dominating their Scottish opponents.
Up front for Wigan Grant Holt looked lively with a few good layoffs to Maloney and McManaman and the big striker almost marked his home debut with a goal when he rose to meet a Watson corner with a header but with the keeper well beaten, the ball hit the woodwork and bounced back into play.
Wigan continued to press forwards and this time from another corner Rogne rose but his header narrowly went over the bar. Rogne looked very comfortable on the ball and had another chance with a header, this time the United keeper was forced to tip it the bar over the cross bar for a corner as Wigan poured forwards in search of the opening goal which must surely come.
It didn’t however and Wigan’s game was disrupted when Rogne rose to challenge for a header and was adjudged to have climbed on the United player’s back. Rogne fell heavily and after what seemed an eternity of attention from the physios the stretcher was called for and the big Norwegian was stretchered off although thankfully later reports suggest the injury is not as bad as originally feared
This sparked a reshuffle highlighting Wigan’s first real area of concern which is a current dearth of centre halves with central midfielder McCann being brought on to play centre half as he did at Morecambe. Wigan seemed to recover well from this set back and created gaps in the Untied defence with quick incisive passing but all too often seemed shot shy, seemingly content to pass sideways instead of having a pop at goal.
Most of Wigan’s good play seemed to come through central midfield with both Maloney and McManaman looking off the pace.
Half time brought to an end forty five minutes of almost total Wigan domination with all that was lacking was a goal to show for it,
Wigan opted to replace the tiring McManaman with Beausejour at half time but it was the visitors who seemed to have benefitted most from the half time team talk as the pace of their play had increased notably and they started to gain the advantage in terms of possession and territory as Wigan seemed content to let United control the ball by standing off their opposition.
If this was a tactic it failed as Ciftic was given too much room on the edge of the area and his powerful shot beat Carson sending the 500 or so travelling United fans wild with delight.
Wigan responded with some good play down the left and following a good cross from Beausejour and a neat flick on by Holt, McCarthy should have done better when unmarked at the far post, he shot into the side netting.
Wigan continued to push forwards but any momentum was lost by a myriad of personnel changes the best effort being late on when a Gomez show was magnificently saved by Cierniak in the United goal.
The full time whistle brought to an end Wigan’s pre season preparations but a lack of central defenders; a lack of pace out wide and most worryingly the inability to convert a multitude of chances into goals suggests that Owen Coyle’s forays into the transfer market may not be over yet.
Team Line Up
Boyce (c), Perch, Rogne, Crainey
McManaman, McArthur, McCarthy, Watson, Maloney
McCann for Rogne 26 mins
Beausejour for McManaman 45 mins
Espinoza for Watson 60 mins
Fortune for McArthur 60 mins
Dicko for Holt 69 mins
Gomez for Maloney 69 mins
Buxton for Boyce 76 mins
Fyvie for McCarthy 81 mins
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