In a game which meant nothing to either side in terms of league status, Wigan and Villa fought out an entertaining draw in front of a noisy crowd determined to see their respective heroes off in style.
For Wigan, manager Roberto Martinez opted to make three changes from his F.A.Cup winning side with Al Habsi recalled in goal in place of Robles and Golobart and Watson replacing the out of contract Alcaraz and injured McManaman. There was also a youthful look to the substitutes with youngsters Fyvie, Henriquez, Redmond, Campabadal and Mustoe joining Di Santo on a school bus like bench.
When people looks back on Martinez’s time at Wigan the major failure will be the inability to stiffen the defence and once again today Wigan contrived to gift a goal to the opposition. This tiem the culprit was Scharner who played former England striker Bent onside and the striker showed his class finishing well off the post out of Al Habsi’s reach.
Villa roared on by a vociferous crowd continued to pour forwards but Latics with Boyce and Espinoza pushing forwards our wide looked dangerous and with Maloney and McCarthy gradually coming into the game Wigan secured a deserved equaliser when Boyce showing the class that made him Aylesbury under 11’s top scorer rose unchallenged to head a fine cross from Espinoza past Guzan to the delight of the home fans.
The game was played at pace as if both sides realising it didn’t matter decided to go for it. No one epitomised this attitude that Wigan’s player of the season Maloney who played with a verve and belief that will no doubt make him a target for Premier League clubs in the summer, his best effort a free kick forcing a save from Guzan.
In injury time Wigan won a corner following good work by Epsinoza, Maloney put over the corner and Watson looked to have put the ball over the line but it was cleared by Westwood. Unfortunately for the Villian the ball hit Baker and rebounded into the net and Wigan had the lead.
The second half ebbed and flowed in a similar fashion to the first with both sides playing with an abandonment lacking in their play for most of the season. For Wigan Kone wasted a couple of half chances and for Villa Agbonlahor looked dangerous. The equalising goal when it came again was due to a mistake in the Wigan defence by Golobart but their was no error in a wonderful half volley by Vlaar which flew into the net from the edge of the area and once again Wigan had conceded two goals in a game at home, the worst goals conceded at home of any team in the Premier League.
Both teams continued to pugs for the winning goal with McArthur having what appeared to be a mis hit cross come back off the cross bar and Scharner have a good shout for a penalty ignored by the officious Mr Swarbrick but int eh end the biggest cheer of the match was reserved for the late substitution of man of the match Emerson Boyce in what could be his last game int he blue and white of Wigan Athletic.
Match line up and player ratings
Al Habsi…..7, showed a command of his area sadly lacking this season
Boyce….8, a class display. Man of the match. Withdrawn
Scharner….6, like the curate’s egg , good in parts.
Golobart….6, not the finished article yet
Espinoza….7, worked hard and pushed forwards whenever he could.
McArthur….7, covered all over the pitch.
Watson….7, drove the team forwards, will be key in the championship campaign. Withdrawn.
McCarthy….7.5 a good performance in what is likely to be his final game for Wigan.
Gomez….6, a typical fitful game from Jordi. Withdrawn.
Kone….6.5, worked hard but wasted the chances he got.
Maloney….7.5 as usual the most potent attacking threat.
Fyvie….6 ( for Watson) worked hard.
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