A wonderful set piece strike from Shaun Maloney was enough to give Wigan a share of the points against promotion chasing Middlesboro and although this lead was later cancelled out by Bamford, the point was just reward for a committed team performance in MacKay’s first game in charge of the Latics
The Wigan line up saw four changes from the side that capitulated so badly away at Bolton two weeks ago , a defeat which saw Wigan drop into the relegation zone and cost manager Uwe Rosler his job. Into the team came Ramis, Boyce and Taylor at the back in place of Perch, Kiernan and Figueroa with a welcome start in midfield for McCann following a lengthy injury in place of Huws The game started at a high pace with both sides pushing forwards at will, the away side seemingly having the better of play down their left had side with Reach particularly effective For Wigan McCann and Maloney were dominant down the centre and on their left hand side which made for an entertaining attacking and counter attacking game
The first real chance fell to Wigan when a surging run from McCann saw him cynically felled just outside the penalty area by Clayton. Maloney stepped up and his free kick hit the woodwork with the ‘Boro keeper well beaten.
It was a case of deja vu some fifteen minutes alter when McCann went on a similar run and was fouled in an almost identical spot by the same player, Clayton this time earning himself a booking. This time the Scottish international placed the ball into the top left hand corner of the net past a static Konstantpoulos and Wigan had the lead. Boro showed why they are near the top of the table this season with quick incisive passing and almost equalised when Kike shot narrowly went wide of the goal. Adomah a former Wigan target gave the defence a torrid time throughout the game but with Ramis and Taylor .solid at the back he could not find a way to trouble Carson in the Wigan goal. Adam Forshaw looked to be reveling in playing alongside Maloney and McCann and following a poor clearance by Konstantpoulos his powerful shot went narrowly wide of the goal. Wigan continued to set the tempo int he second half with Taylor pushing forwards down the left but the home side wasted two good chances, first an air kick in the six yard area by Barnett with the goal at his mercy was followed shortly afterwards by an awful reflex shot from Fortune which ended up twenty rows back in the stand.
This prolificacy in front of goal came back to bite Wigan when substitute Bamford on loan from Chelsea scored with his first touch for ‘Boro. A quick break from the visitors saw the ball fed through to Bamford who evaded the static Wigan defence and placed the ball into the back of the Wigan goal.
Both sides pushed for the winner, McCann went close for Wigan and Barnett wasted another good chance whilst Bamford couldn’t retain his feet when presented with a good opportunity in the Wigan penalty area.
The game ended one all, a far better team performance than in recent weeks although the statistic of one shot on target in ninety minutes suggested that there is still work to be done if Wigan are to climb out of the relegation places. Team Line up and Player Ratings
Carson…6/10, a quiet afternoon
Boyce….5/10, lacking match fitness?, withdrawn
Ramis….8/10, a rock at the back
Barnett…5/10, indecisive both at the back and in attack
Taylor…..7/10 his best game in a Wigan shirt.
McManaman…6/10 a marauding first half but faded after the break.
Forshaw……7/10 neat slick passing, growing in stature game by game, withdrawn
McCann……8/10 showed what Wigan have missed the last six months.
Espinoza…..5/10 a poor game, too many wayward passes, withdrawn
Maloney…..8.5/10 back to his best a MOM performance.
Fortune……6/10 worked hard but to little effect
McClean……6/10 some powerful runs.
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