A tremendous second half performance reminiscent of last season’s get out of gaol escapades almost secured Wigan all three points and once again Martinez was left to rue poor defending for his side not emerging from the Stoke cauldron with all three points.
Wigan made the trip to the North Midlands looking to secure three points in their perennial battle against relegation. Martinez opted to make two changes from the narrow defeat against Sunderland, with Golobart and Espinoza replacing Stam and Gomez who dropped to the bench.
The game started in torrential rain and the first incident of note was an accidental clash of heads between Huth and Di Santo with the German coming off the worst and spent the rest of the game resembling an Egyptian mummy !
Wigan had the best of the opening exchanges and Beausejour was unlucky to be called back by Mr Jones when in full flow, only for a free kick to be awarded to Wigan for a foul on Maloney.
Prior to tonight’s game Wigan had gone thirty seven Premier League games without a nil all draw and the run went to thirty eight in the twenty fifth minute when a free kick from Adam wasn’t dealt with by the much maligned Wigan defence and Shawcross put the ball past Al Habsi for the opening goal.
Stoke roared on by a vociferous home crowd scented blood and pushed forwards in search of a second goal, with Wigan hanging on grimly, looking low on confidence and offering little going forwards.
The next real chance unsurprisingly fell to the home side as a shot come cross from Adam caught Al Habsi out of position and nearly sneaked into the goal.
Wigan tried to regroup and whilst not short on effort or endeavour there was very little in the way of creativity, a long range shot from Di Santo all they had to show for the first half hour efforts.
Things improved just before the break when a good cross from Beausejour found McArthur racing into the penalty box but his toe poke went wide of the goal and Stoke’s fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Shortly before half time Wigan fans were treated to the worrying sight of what looked like another leg injury to a Wigan player, this time to Emmerson Boyce which pushes the number this season into double figures and again Wigan trooped in for their half time cuppa trailing to a goal which they really should have prevented.
Any hope that the half time pep talk would spark Wigan into life was quickly dispelled, when within two minutes of the restart, a Wigan attack broke down on the edge of the Stoke box, the home side broke quickly and with the Wigan defence at sixes and sevens , Adam’s was allowed to run unchallenged from the halfway line and when his shot was only parried by Al Habsi, Crouch had a simple finish to double the lead.
Wigan halved the deficit from the restart when with their best moving of the match so far in terms of passing and pace saw Espinoza find McArthur whose shot beat Begovic and Wigan were back in the game .
Stoke almost made it three when Golobart fouled Crouch on the edge of the penalty area and Adam’s beautifully curled free kick beat both Al Habsi and to Wigan’s relief the far post .
Wigan then made it two all almost immediately when Di Santo popped up in the Stoke penalty box to finish off fine play by man of the moment McArthur. Two was almost three, when McArthur again fired a powerful shot which Begovic was forced to tip over the bar.
Wigan continued to attack with pace and a sense of urgency, something sadly lacking in the first half and Figueroa mindful of his previous wonder goal at the Britannia Stadium tried his luck again from long range, this time however the ball flew over the bar.
Another shot, this time from Maloney and once again Begovic was called to make a fine save as Wigan scenting victory poured forwards in search on the vital third goal and Stoke were left to counter attacking like an away side but gave notice that they were still a force to be reckoned with when Jerome fizzed a shot narrowly wide .
Back came Wigan again and not for the first time a poor ball from Beausejour wasted a good move by Wigan..
With Stoke on the back foot for most of the last fifteen minutes, Wigan almost snatched victory at the death when man of the match Maloney fired in a wonderful cross narrowly evading the out stretched boot of Di Santo
Al Habsi; Boyce, Golobart (c), Caldwell, Figueroa, Beausejour, McCarthy, McArthur, Espinoza, Di Santo, Maloney
Subs: Joel, Stam, Mustoe, Gomez, D.Jones, McManaman, Henriquez
Subs used; Stam for Boyce (45), McManaman for Beausejour (81)
Man of the Match…….Maloney, nominated by Sawdoctor
Referee Mike Jones
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