Any fears that Wigan would be suffering from an F.A.Cup hangover were firmly dispelled in the early Spring sunshine at the DW Stadium today as Wigan strolled to victory with probably their best performance of the season in defeating Reading three nil.
So dominant was Wigan’s performance that the Reading travelling support saved their biggest cheer for a shot off target late in the second half.
Once again Rosler rang the changes and the spark was there for all to see as a tremendous performance from the central midfield triumvirate of Gomez, McArthur and Espinoza, aided and abetted by the skilful running of wide men Maloney and McManaman, the willingness and determination of centre forward Waghorn and the steady back four of Perch, Boyce, Barnett and Beausejour in front of the every dependable Al Habsi
Wigan for all their dominance tall over the pitch were the first side to be placed under pressure when a shot from Obita was saved by Al Habsi but he couldn’t hold onto the ball, thankfully no Reading player was near enough to take advantage and A Habsi gathered unchallenged
Maloney showed throughout his performance what the Wigan fans have been missing in his absence and a sublime ball from the diminutive Scotsman found McManaman whose powerful shot was well saved by England international McCarthy in the Reading goal
Maloney himself then tested McCarthy but the keeper was well positioned.
Reading for the majority of the early exchanges were penned in their own half so dominant was Wigan’s performance with wave after wave of attacking moves down both flanks and through the middle stretching the away defence whose only recourse was to execute some industrial challenges a significant number of which went unpunished.
One of the best chances followed lovely work by Beausejour overlapping on the left from a Maloney pass and his cross found Epsinoza whose glancing header went narrowly wide.
Once again Gomez was key to all good things for all things Wigan and he scored the first goal seizing on a loose ball in midfield, taking a few steps forwards and firing an unstoppable shot past McCarthy for the opening goal.
Wigan continued to press, forcing Reading back and McManaman, McArthur and then Gomez again all tested the Reading defence
One criticism of Wigan this season has been their failure to kill teams off but today Reading was all but dead and buried by half time as McManaman displaying his best performance of the season cut in from the right wing beating three players and his goal bound shot was parried by McCarthy , straight to Waghorn who finished with aplomb.
Wigan continued to set the tempo in the second half with Reading scrambling to keep the score down, on several occasions Wigan fired crosses virtually along the dead ball line with no one there to finish them but made the three points virtually certain when McManaman showed poise with a fine curling shot after good work by Waghorn.
Wigan continued to push forwards and Maloney and McArthur can consider themselves unlucky not to be on the score sheet.
Rosler sensing the game was won opted to bring on Powell and Fortune for the fantastic Maloney and Waghorn and as a result the impetus waned somewhat but Wigan still dominated restricting Reading to a long range shot which saw Al Habsi slip but still have time to extend himself to make the save and Wigan comfortably saw the game out for a much needed and well deserved three points.
Team Line up and player ratings
Al Habsi….7, two fine saves but cant kick for toffee.
Perch…..7, composed and steady.
Boyce…..7, a captain’s performance.
Barnett, immense in defence, dangerous at set pieces.
Beausejour…..7, solid in defence, troublesome in attack
McArthur…..7.5, another hard working no nonsense performance.
Gomez…..8, excellent goal and a good round effort
Espinoza……9, MOM did everything superbly well today, withdrawn
Maloney…..8, on his way back to his best, withdrawn.
Waghorn……8, a potent attacking threat, withdrawn
McManaman….8, hitting format the right time
Powell…..6, for Maloney, little influence on the game.
Fortune……6, for Waghorn, struggled to make an impact ont eh game.
Collison ……N/A for Espinoza.
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