Any hope that Wigan would seal their first double of the season was blown away within the opening quarter of an hour as Birmingham dismantled a porous Wigan defence that in this period was lucky to concede only two goal, both to Donaldson Following last week’s F.A.Cup debacle in which Wigan could have been four or five down by half time, Mackay made four changes to the starting XI with back in for the Asia cup bound Al Habsi and Cowie and Maloney returning in place of Watson and Fortune. There was also a reshuffle at the back where Tavernier made way for debutant loan signing Liam Ridgewell in a line up which featured three centre backs, two wing backs and a five man midfield with Maloney, Cowie and McClean pushing forwards when in attack.
Within the first two minutes Wigan were behind, Cotterill was allowed to break unchallenged down the right and his cross went unchallenged by the Wigan defence and keeper allowing Donaldson a simple header to open the scoring for the quickest goal of the day.
One could have been two when exciting young prospect Gray raced forwards three minutes later only to be hauled down by Mc Cann, a professional foul earning the big Irishman a yellow card.
Birmingham continued to dominate against a midfield seemingly unable to make a meaningful challenge and a defence which was constantly out of position. Cotterill and Donaldson both went close to scoring followed by Shinnie as Birmingham’s players queued up in an attempt t increase the score. This time the shot hit the post and rolled along the goal line allowing Donaldson who was the first to react a simple tap in Two almost became three as Birmingham had a good appeal for a penalty for a foul on Shinnie by Forshaw rejected and then Donaldson almost got a first half hat trick when he narrowly failed to connect with a Caddis’ cross Two minutes later and Shinnie went down in the box under a challenge by Adam Forshaw, the referee waved away Birmingham’s loud appeal for a penalty.
Donaldson was a constant thorn in the Latics defence all afternoon and almost scored again when he beat Carson abut fortunately for Wigan Ridgewell was there to clear off the line.
Wigan were then forced into their first injury substitution of the afternoon, when the struggling Cowie was replaced by Watson. Latics then had their first real chance of the afternoon when Birmingham managed to scramble the ball clear after neat interplay between McClean and Maloney.
McClean did then receive reward for his efforts when a long range curling shot
beat Randolph in the Birmingham net, to put Wigan back into a game that should have been dead and buried
Both sides trooped off at half time no doubt as bemused as each other as to how a team that had been so dominant over their opponents had not scored more.
A half time substitution for Wigan at half time saw debutant Ridgewell (who was lucky to be still on the pitch for what appeared to be a cynical elbow on Davis ) withdrawn due to injury. to be replaced by Waghorn giving Wigan their first striker on the pitch of the afternoon. Ably supported by McClean. this more attacking line up seem to lift the team as for the first twenty minutes of the half, Wigan were the dominant team, both in terms of possession and chances. These chances fell mainly to Waghorn and man of the match McClean, the latter coming the closest to scoring with another powerful shot that Randolph just pushed around the post McClean then turned provider and his corner was narrowly headed over by Ramis This was followed but a powerful shot from Maloney which once again Randolph had to react well to, to save, palming the ball away for a corner.
When it looked like Wigan’s pressure would eventually tell, Birmingham seized on a loose ball, broke quickly and a cross by Cotterill found Gray whose effort was blocked, however the ball fell to Donaldson who secured his hat trick with a simple goal. A third injury substitution , this time Ramis who was replaced by Barnett followed by an injury to McClean took the wind out of Wigan’s attacking momentum with a Waghorn shot which went narrowly wide the best on offer in the last twenty minutes as Birmingham comfortably saw out the remainder of the game to leave Wigan rooted in the relegation places and not for the first time ruminating on a pathetic first half performance with little or no attacking acumen.
Team Line Up
Carson, Perch , Kiernan, Ramis( Barnett), Ridgewell ( Waghorn), Taylor, Maloney, Forshaw, McCann, Cowie ( Watson ),McClean.
Man of Match……………McClean, if we had another ten players with his heart and passion we wouldn’t be in this mess.
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