In a game largely devoid of skill guile and endeavour, Wigan and Birmingham had to settle for a goalless draw in which chances were at a premium and Birmingham, reduced to ten men following the straight red card issued to Lingard will be happier with the result.
Wigan were forced to make changes from the team which performed so well at Reading with Watson suspended for picking up five yellow cards and the loss through injury of main attacking threat Nick Powell, their replacements being Ramis and Holt with Perch being pushed forward into a wing back role.
The game quickly settled into a midfield battle with both teams seeking to gain an advantage but failing to do so. For Wigan, McArthur who had the added responsibility of the captain’s armband was the best on show, driving the team forwards ably supported by McManaman in a wide role on the right. For Birmingham Burke was dangerous on the right with the towering figure Zigic up front providing a hard afternoons work for the Wigan central defenders.
Birmingham looked the sharper and a half break had to be well defended by Rogne but his lunge caused a calf injury causing him to be withdrawn shortly afterwards to be replaced by Shotton. For Wigan , Holt was dwarfed by a pair of central defenders who wouldn’t look out of place in the NBA and the Wigan forward struggled to make any sort of impression during the game.
For the main part the first half was a turgid affair with chances at either end few and far between, Wigan’s best effort came in the forty third minute when a slip by Burn , further compounded by Holt falling over the defender saw McManaman break through but his powerful shot was saved at full stretch by Randolph.
Birmingham failed to trouble Al Habsi in the Wigan goal and as the teams trooped off the hope amongst the home fans was for more festive cheer in the second half.
This wasn’t to be however as with around an hour gone a reckless challenge by Lingard on half time substitute Gomez left the Spaniard writhing in agony on the floor and after a resulting melee, the referee Mr Martin had no hesitation in brandishing a red card for Lingard .
This gave Wigan fresh impetus but with Birmingham placing the whole team behind the ball and defending in two very disciplined lines, Wigan’s lack of creativity was exposed, the honourable exception being a few beautiful balls through from Gomez to Beausejour. Despite constant pressure, the best Latics had to offer was a long range shot from McArthur and a couple of half hearted penalty appeals.
The full time whistle brought to an end a game which produced little in the way of entertainment and Wigan manager Uwe Rosler would no doubt be left ruing the lack of creativity within the team.
Team Line up and player ratings
Al Habsi…..6, had very little to do.
Perch……..6, solid if unspecactular.
Barnett…..7, another reliable performance.
Rogne…..n/a withdrawn early through injury
Ramis…..6, still working his way back to fitness
Beausejour…..7, a constant threat down the left.
McClean……6, little chance to influence the game, withdrawn
McCann……5, played deeper than usual and had little impact upon the game, withdrawn.
McArthur…..7.5, man of the match, never stopped driving the team on and defended tenaciously.
McManaman…6.5, a good first half but anonymous after the break.
Holt…..5, didn’t impose himself on the game in any way.
Shotton 5, for Rogne…..looked out of place as a wing back.
Gomez 7, for McClean….Wigan’s most creative outlet.
Keane….5, little influence on proceedings
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