Wigan suffered their third red card of the season losing returning captain Craig Morgan but the rearguard action superbly marshaled by David Perkins ensured that Wigan emerged with their third consecutive draw.
Latics made three changes to the side that started against Millwall on Tuesday, Morgan and Grigg earned recalls after injury and Jaaskelainen was handed a debut with Chow, Murray and O’Donnell the players missing out..
The game started brightly with both sides looking to attack at every opportunity with Grigg for Wigan looking sharp against his former club and top scorer Bradshaw looking lively for the opposition.
Early chances fell to Morris for Walsall whose shot was well saved by Jaaskelainen which was countered by Daniels whose powerful shot was blocked by the away defence.
For Wigan not for the first time this season their most creative outlet was Jacobs and his powerful running caused no end of problems for the Walsall defence and from one such run he fed the ball through to Hiwula who failed to hit the target.
Wigan once again used the tactic of the keeper passing to the defence and then back again, a tactic which put Jaaskelainen under pressure resulting in some wayward kicks. Walsall showed how to clear effectively when their keeper Etheridge hit a long ball up front to Bradshaw who was one on one with Perkins but the diminutive midfielder was more than a match for the hotshot striker and produced a controlled tackle to defuse the chance
A free kick on the edge of the area saw Jacobs size up the chance but the wall stood firm and as was symptomatic of the afternoon the chance was wasted
Not for the first time this season , Wigan manager showed decisive action with his substitutions early on, bringing debutant winger Wildschut on as a striker for Hiwula at half time. The big Dutchman showed his pace and power with some direct running with one foray resulting in a last ditch block by the Walsall defence.
Wigan’s best chance came from Grigg who following good work by James managed to completely miss the ball with the goal gaping. Grigg nearly made amends with a low powerful shot which went narrowly wide.
Walsall looked sharp on the break and just after the hour the game turned when Morgan was adjudged to have fouled the dangerous Morris as the last man and was served with a red card. There was particular controversy about this as it appeared that Morris was offside and that there had been a foul on Grigg earlier in the play. Both eh referee and assistant missed these incidents so Wigan were once again left with ten men and having to mount a rearguard actions against the best attacking team in the division.
It is to Wigan’s credit that they comfortably managed to see out the next twenty minutes with Barnett and Daniels performing superbly in stifling the Walsall attacks so much so that Walsall were left to fire long range shots with little hope of success.
The full time whistle brought to the end a determined performance from a Wigan side once again shorn of one of its key players and whilst it could be viewed as two points lost it would be more appropriate to view it as one point gained.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Jaaskelainen……7, a solid confident performance
Daniels…………….7, excellent defensive display
Barnett……………..7, kept top scorer Bradshaw quiet.
McCann……………7. good in defence, sharp in attack
Morgan…………….6, unlucky to be sent off
James……………..7, attacked down the left with gusto
Perkins…………….8 MOM, read the game superbly
Jacobs…………….7.5, Wigan’s best hope for a goal.
Power………………6, a quiet game, withdrawn
Hiwula……………..6, little chance to shine, withdrawn
Grigg……………….6.5, missed a sitter, withdrawn
Wildschut (for Hiwula)…… 7, troubled the Walsall defence
Love (for Grigg)…….n/a
Chow (for Power)……n/a
Entertainment rating 5/10 game never got going between two of the top sides in the division
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