Wigan Athletic’s dream of a third consecutive appearance at Wembley in the F.A. Cup came to a grinding halt at the first attempt as a pitiful first half performance followed by a slightly improved second half saw the side bring its poor league form in the cup
Manager Malky Mackay sprang a surprise with his team selection in that he didn’t make widespread changes to the team which capitulated to Sheffield Wednesday last time out. The only change being the resting of Scott Carson with Ali Al Habsi taking guard in goal. This continuity once again ensured no place for key summer forwards signings Andy Delort and Oriel Riera with once again journeyman Fortune plus left winger McClean the preferred attacking option.
The first half from a Wigan fan’s perspective was embarrassing, the tactical attacking plan apparently to boot the ball upfield as far as possible in the hope that Fortune or McClean may get on the end of it. Needless to say for the main part it didn’t work with the notable exceptions of two balls to McClean on the left which saw the Irishman who never stopped trying all afternoon fire over two crosses which were comfortably gathered by Bogdan.
Bolton were totally dominant, diminutive debutant Clough seemed to be able to run through the Wigan midfield at will ( one wag opined that the nearest Watson got to him was when they walked off at half time).
Wigan were idnebted throughout the first half for the from of Perch , Ramis and especially Al Habsi as Bolton exhibiting the “new manager” effect absolutely battered the Wigan goal. Ali had to make smart saves from Feeney and Trotter. Wigan were so under the cosh that for Bolton corners they put all eleven players in the box to defend the corners with Fortune heading a couple clear but the lack of anyone Wigan players outside the box saw the cleared balls just punted back in.
Wigan’s central midfield was awful in the first half, offering no creativity going forwards and so ineffective in the tackle that Pratley and co poured through them at will. One such move saw Feeney through on goal and just when the Bolton player seemed ready to pull the trigger a wonder tackle by Perch cleared the ball out for a throw in. Wigna’s central back three worked overtime in trying to contain their opponents, both wing backs had terrible games, creating nothing going forwards and badly exposed when trying to defend wave after wave of Bolton attacks.
Wigan did have a spell of sustained pressure (well two minutes anyhow) but this ended with a long range show from Forshaw, comfortably saved by Bogdan, Latics first shot on taget for over 100 minutes. Mackay showed intent by replacing Fortune with Maloney meaning that Wigan were playing with no recognised striker on the pitch. Bolton still looked comfortable building from the back and pushing virtually unchallenged through midfield and Ramis had to be sharp to block a shot from the dangerous Clough. Wigan with Maloney producing a performance reminiscent of two years ago looked to have more cohesion as the half went on and with Watson replaced by Cowie ,McCann looked to push forwards more down the left. One such move saw a superb cross find Forshaw unmarked about six feet from the goal but his header was straight at Bogdan when a yard either side would have seen Wigan take the lead.
Tavernier who struggled all afternoon managed to break away on the right and his lack of confidence was evident when he spurned a clear goal scoring opportunity, choosing to pass across the penalty area which saw the ball easily intercepted by the home defence Tavernier was withdrawn shortly afterwards replaced by elder statesman Emerson Boyce meaning that Wigan played forty five minutes without any recognised striker on the pitch and sadly this lack of firepower came back to haunt Wigan when Clough broke through the Wigan defence and this time the young striker made no mistake put the ball past the advancing Al Habsi to give Bolton a deserved lead.
Wigan tried to claw back the deficit, a powerful shot from MmcCleanw as pushed away by Bogdan for a corner and then fromt eh corner Bogdan appeared to step behind his goal line under a challenge from perch but the referee nether awarded a goal to Wigan or a free kick to Bolton.
Wigan’s best chance fell to Maloney in injury time as a pin point free kick which was heading for the top corner was tipped round the post by Bogdan at full stretch.
Full time whistle saw Wigan lose to the old enemy for the second time this season and it was interesting to see the improvement in he home side since the appointment of Neil Lennon as opposed to the continuing woes of Wigan Athletic and their fans Team Line up and Player Ratings Al Habsi…..9, MOM, didn’t deserve to be on the losing side against his former club.
Tavernier…..3, out of position when defending and wasted a good chance, withdrawn
Taylor…..4, improved going forwards in the second half, way off the pace when defending,
Ramis…..7, worked hard and made some timely interventions,
Perch…..8, showed his value to this team time and again,
Kiernan…..6, worked hard,
McCann…..5 badly exposed, improved after the break.
Watson ……4, poor set pieces, poor passing and poor defending, withdrawn.
Forshaw….. 5 created little, missed a golden opportunity.
Fortune…..4, starved of any ball, withdrawn.
McClean…..6, worked his socks of for little reward.
Maloney…..7 (for Fortune ) h/t, showed his undoubted skill in what might be his last game for the Latics .
Cowie….. 5 ( for Watson )53 mins, stiffened up the midfield but offered nothing creative.
Boyce…..4 ( for Tavernier) 64 mins, too slow to play wing back and it showed.
Entertainment Rating 5/10
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