Wigan crashed out of the F.A.Cup at the first hurdle to second division Swindon,who played with passion and commitment two qualities sadly lacking in their Premeir League opposition and thoroughly deserved their win today at the County Ground.
Wigan will no doubt point to nine changes to the starting line up from Tuesday but eight of today’s starting line up have been regular first teamers during Martinez’s reign and when they should have used today to press for Premier League starting roles, they turned in a performance that was negative, sterile and soulless and an embarrassment to the Premier League as a whole and their long suffering travelling supportin particular who quite rightly had to endure chants of “Premier League you’re having a laugh “ from the jubilant home support.
As expected Swindon started off like an express train, trying to put Wigan’s defence under pressure and within a minute they had the first corner of the game but Wigan managed to clear the ball comfortably.
For Wigan, Watson appeared to be the fulcrum of every move, unfortunately this wasn’t one of his better days, as his slow methodical approach was knocked off its stride by the enthusiastic way Swindon closed Wigan down. He could not have been helped by the strange decision to play without a player on the right hand side of midfield, with right back/wing back Emerson Boyce the only player on that side of the pitch . This meant most of Wigan’s play was directed to the left hand side of the pitch where youngsters Mustoe and McManaman, who were the best players in a Wigan shirt strived to drive the team forwards, McManaman in particular showing the qualities which give the promise of a bright future in the game.
Swindon were far from over-awed however and had two good chances to take the lead, the first when Al Habsi saved well from Murray and the second when a shot seemed to take a deflection and narrowly miss the far post with Al Habsi stranded.
Wigan as usual tried to pass the ball out of defence and seek a gap in the Swindon defence but these were few and far between and Di Santo cut an increasingly lonely figure up front for Wigan as he was not for the first time this season deprived of any quality ball from a defence minded central midfield.
Wigan surprisingly took the lead when McManaman went on one of several lovely jinking runs, he appeared to go down very easily in the penalty area but Mr Walton had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Wigan had a penalty.
Watson stepped up to take the shot and hit the left hand post, thankfully his blushes were spared by the ever alert McManaman who follwed up and scored the rebound to give Wigan an undeserved lead.
Any thoughts that Swindon would wilt were quickly displaced as they continued to press forwards, passing through the Wigan midfield as if it didn’t exist and they nearly equalised when AL Habsi produced a magnificent save to turn Richie’s goalbound shot around the post for a corner.
The respite was short lived however when Connell stole a march on the Wigan defence producing a glancing header which beat Al Habsi to the delight of the partisan and passionate home support.
The second half saw Swindon increase the pressure on Wigan and saw Swindon have a good penalty shout turned down.Wiganlooked ragged with very little cohesive play from the Premeir League club and Thomas who had an absolutely awful game can consider himself lucky not to be sent off for a second bookable offence when Mr Walton decided to wave play on rather than award the free kick.
Martinez opted to remove the Honduran shortly afterwards replacing him with the mercurial Gomez and for a while Wigan looked better, with Gomez linking well with Watson and trying to set Maloney and Di Santo through. Wigan’s attacking prowess was so poor however that they couldn’t produce a single effort on target in the whole of the second half a statistic which will worry the manager whose side are the lowest goalscorers in the Premier League.
This momentum faded and when Maloney collapsed near the half way line in obvious pain,Swindon pressed and a long range shot took a massive deflection , wrong footing Al Habsi and Swindonwere in the lead.
Claims that the deflection was from an offside player may be valid but no one could complain that Swindon didn’t deserve their lead.
Wigan brought Moses on to try and spark some life into their game but the 93rd minute still found them passing the ball around in their own half totally devoid of ideas in how to break down the home sides gallant defence and Di Canio’s men celebrated a well deserved victory leaving the Wigan fans with a long journey home with once again the inglorious title of being the biggest scalp in the third round of the F.A.Cup.
Al Habsi…5 one good save some awful kicking, rightly booked
Boyce……5 Looked rusty after so long out
Caldwell…6 Tried hard.
Lopez…….5 Looked off the pace
Watson……5.5 tried hard but too slow
Thomas……3 Awful, only meaningful contribution was getting booked
McManaman..7 Man of the match for Wiganby a mile
Di Santo……5 starved of possession once again
Gomez…..5.5 Didn’t influence the game as hoped
Moses……5 didn’t look fit
Sammon….came on in 89th minute little chance to do anything
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