Wigan made the trip to Teeside, hoping to maintain the away form which had seen them accrue four consecutive away wins, form which had kept them in with a shout of escaping the championship relegation places.
Malky Mackay made one change to the team that performed so well agaisnt Bolton, replacing Fortune with the now free from suspension James McClean.
Any hopes that Wigan would continue with the momentum they displayed against Bolton were quickly dispelled however as high flying Boro’ using their pace on the flanks with former Wigan target Albert Adomah to the fore absolutely tore into the Latics forcing Wigan deeper and deeper in defence employing Pennant in a back five with Kim as a sweeper in front.
Chelsea loanee Bamford gave the collective Wigan defence a torrid time, whilst for the Latics their only outlets in the first forty five minutes were solo runs from McClean and aimless long ball up field in the hope that Clarke would get on the end, he didn’t.
Boro’s incisive passing which was quick and intuitive and Wigan had no answer apart from last ditch defending and outstanding keeping from Al Habsi in the Wigan goal.
Boro eventually made their pressure tell but there was a large slice of luck associated with it. A shot from Bamford deflected off the heel of Maguire and looped into the far corner of the net leaving Al Habsi with no chance of saving it.
The goal sparked Latics into life but it was very much solo efforts as opposed to coherent team work with another long range foray from McClean resulting in a corner.
Boro almost made it two with Bamford again providing the shot but this time Al Habsi palmed the ball away for a corner
Boro continued to stretch the Latics defence with Bong looking particularly susceptible to the pace and inventiveness of the home side and a lunging foot from Jason Pearce was all that stood between Boro and a two goal lead
Mackay opted to make a change at half time introducing Fortune as a partner for Leon Clarke with McClean moving out onto the wing. This switch gave Latics a more balanced look as Fortune started to hold the ball up looking to feed it to Clarke and McClean
Despite this Wigan still created very little in the area and it was only once Clarke had been replaced by Waghorn that Wigan started to find space within the area. The first real chance fell to Fortune whose turn and shot from near the deadball line was worthy of a goal but Boro keeper Konstantopoulos saved well to palm it away for a corner.
Latics next chance fell to Pennant after good work by Kim but he wasn’t able to control the ball effectively and his shot went wide.
Kvist then replaced Pennant and with the Danish international settling into the sweeper role which allowed Kim to push forwards. From one such move the South Korean found himself in a good position in the penalty area but inexplicably he opted to pass rather than shoot and the chance fell instead to McClean but the Irishman couldn’t get his foot around the ball, kneeing it out for a goal kick to the derision of the home fans.
It wasn’t all Wigan however and Boro had two real chances to increase their lead, first Bamford fired a low shot which was well saved by Ali and then a Tomlin shot following a quick breakaway was blocked by Kim.
Wigan tried to get the equaliser but as the full time whistle blew for another defeat one which saw them drop to 23rd in the league table, the players were left to reflect on the cost of such an insipid first half as they came over to applaud their loyal following.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Al Habsi…….7, couldn’t be faulted for the goal, some fine saves.
Boyce…..6, lacked the pace but still reads the game well.
Bong…..4, a poor game, often out of position and mullered for pace.
Pearce…..8, MOM, defended valiantly.
Maguire…..7, fought hard against the wiles of Bamford.
Murphy…..4, looked out of place, withdrawn.
Kim…………7, better when pushed forwards.
Perch……..5, wasted in midfield.
Pennant…5, failed to impose himself in the game, withdrawn.
McClean…7, never stopped trying.
Clarke……4, never got into the game, withdrawn.
Fortune for Murphy….7, gave Wigan momentum going forwards.
Waghorn for Clarke….6, sharp work stretched the home defence.
Kvist for Pennant……..7, controlled the game when he came on.
Entertainment rating……..5/10 awful first half for Wigan cost them the chance of a much needed point
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