An end to end rousing cup tie at the DW yesterday saw the honours shared in a game in which both sides can count themselves unlucky not to have won the game.
Wigan manager Uwe Rosler stuck to his promise of respecting the cup and fielding a virtually full strength side making four attacking changes for the team which beat Derby on News Year day; recalling Holt,Gomez,McClean and McManaman for Fortune,McCann, Ramis and Powell the players stood down.
Wigan started brightly with Espinoza driving the team forwards looking to link with McClean and McManaman. Both wingers seemed to be rejuvinated under Rosler and attacked the away defence with gusto.
MK Dons were not overawed by playing ht F.A.Cup champions and their neat interplay between Banford and Reeves created a couple of half chances which the Wigan defence managed to contain.
Wigan took the lead when in the eighteenth minute the ball fell to Espinoza outside the area and his powerful left foot shot rocketed into the net with the keeper left stranded.
Wigan continued to press forwards with McArthur and Gomez looking to put through balls through to Holt but the big Cumbrian was well marshalled by the Dons defence and had little impact on the game.
Wigan then doubled their lead when good work from Gomez saw him enter the box on the right hand side, with a pass inside to the supporting players the best option, the diminutive Spaniard fooled both the fans and the opposition with a shot which flew between the keeper and his near post and Wigan had doubled their lead. With a team that had kept clean sheets in their last three games there were many who thought that this was game over. Wigan nearly made it three when McManaman burst through the static defence and shot wide with McClean screaming for the ball unmarked in the area.
However with the spirit of a young Dons team who didn’t let their heads drop, they continued to push forwards and as Wigan’s defence dropped further and further back, two goals in as many minutes by Reeves due to the failure of a Wigan defence which was at sixes and sevens all afternoon saw the teams go into half time all square.
Rosler opted to substitute Gomez at half time and introduce the more defensive minded McCann in an attempt to stiffen up the midfield. The game then flowed from end to end with the away side in the asecendancy, Baldock when down theatrically claiming he had been hit in the face. Referee Mr East supported the claim awarding the penalty but didnt book McClean.
There was then a lengthy delay whilst Baldock received attention but the delay had a detriment on Williams as a pityful penalty was easily saved by Al Habsi.
The Dons continued too press and Al Habsi had to be at full stretch to save from Banford.
Wigan once again took the lead with a fine finish, this time from McManaman following good work by Fortune and the fans could breathe easily again.
Not for long however as Chelsea loanaee Bamford seized on Wigan’s failure to clear the ball and poked it home from close range to secure a well deserved replay at Stadium MK.
For Wigan having played six extra games on their European sojurn, this wasn’t the result that they wanted but they could have no complaints about the result and once again were left to rue the lack of firepower from their strikers.
Line Up and Player Ratings
Al Habsi…..6, a competant penalty save and a couple of other notable saves but conceeded three goals.
Perch…..5, didnt look confortable at full back.
Boyce (c)….5, switched to centre half and struggled.
Barnett……6, best of the back four.
Beausejour….5, ok going forwards, struggled in defence.
McArthur….6, never stopped working hard.
Espinoza…..7, MOM, a fine goal and constantly worked hard.
McManaman…..6, a good goal but too ball greedy at times.
McClean….6, direct running and committment but lacked vision at times.withdrawn
Gomez…..6, a fine goal withdrawn.
Holt…..4, ineffectual, withdrawn.
McCann for Gomez….6, stiffened up the midifeld.
Fortune…..5, offered little.
Dicko….5, failed to impose himself on the game
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