Wigan travelled to London for a crucial relegation battle knowing that a win would open up a ten point gap between themselves and the bottom two and increase the pressure on the sides just outside the relegation zone.
A poor performance, short on class, high on nerves against largely ten men saw Wigan scrape a draw in a game they never really looked like winning as too much passing around the edge of their opponents area saw little clear cut chances for Wigan, with Maloney’s last gasp equaliser covering up their deficiencies but keeping Wigan in the bottom three on goal difference.
Roberto Martinez unsurprisingly opted to retain the same side which had won their last three games meaning no place once again in the starting line up for former first choice keeper Al Habsi and club captain Gary Caldwell with Emmerson Boyce once again handed the captain’s armband.
Rangers cheered on by their home support started the brighter and Boyce had to make two good tackles within a minute to dismantle two Rangers attacks.
Wigan bounced back and Gomez was allowed far too much space by the home midfield and his slide rule ball was put out for a corner with Beausejour closing in, The corner was easily cleared allowing Rangers to easy the pressure..
Maloney and Beausejour then combined well but McManaman’s shot was easily saved by Cesar. From the resultant break , Rangers nearly went ahead when a powerful shot from Remy hit the upright with Robles well beaten.
Wigan looked nervous with too many balls going astray and Ranger being allowed to seemingly break unchallenged through centre midfield.
Wigan re grouped and started to play their normal passing again and a good move involving McCarthy and McManaman saw the young Liverpudlian put a good cross over which was missed by both home and away players.
The game changed two minutes later when Zamora in challenging Gomez following a throw in from Maloney appeared to kick Gomez in the head. Where as there didn’t appear to be any malice in the challenge , following treatment to Gomez, Mr Dowd produced a red card and Rangers were down to ten men.
Wigan looked to make the man advantage tell but all too often they were forced to shooting from distance, the best a curling effort from McManaman which went just over the bar.
Wigan ramped up the pressure and some neat interplay once again involving Maloney saw McManaman shoot narrowly wide.
A goal mouth scramble following the unjust awarding a free kick to Rangers saw the home side claim for a handball but Mr Dowd waved away their pleas and Wigan cleared the ball.
Wigan’s next good chance fell to McCarthy whose powerful shot say Cesar scrambling across his goal to push the ball away for a corner.
Wigan continued to dominate possession but as so often this season were guilty of putting too many passes together whereas Rangers more direct style with Townsend at the fore caused problems for the Wigan defence but with Boyce leading the defence, Wigan held firm.
Half time came with boos from the home fans, not for their rearguard performance but for Mr Dowd’s decision although few in all honesty could argue with the decision. Wigan trooped in for their half time team talk knowing that they would have to up the tempo if they were going to take advantage of the man advantage.
The second half started in much the same vein but again the passing was too slow to split the opposition ‘s resolute defence and with McCarthy the driving force in midfield there was a palpable lack of urgency to the Wigan play coupled with a visible nervousness gave impetuous to Rangers’ play.
Wigan’s casual approach was typified by McArthur having eluded his man, headed waekly at Cesar when he really should have scored.
Maloney was once again the most dangerous player but was all too often left unsupported as Wigan’s calm methodical play failed to break down the home sides’ resolute defence
Wigan were made to pay for their lack of a killer instinct when a charged down free kick from Figueroa found M’bia who broke from his won penalty area, his through ball found Remy out wide and the French international found Robles off his line with a wonderful shot and against the odd Rangers had the lead.
Wigan looked to be heading for a defeat when in the dying embers of time added on, M’bia bundled Maloney over on the edge of the area. The diminutive Scotsman got up, dusted himself down and with ten seconds remaining on the clock, fired home the equaliser over the wall to give Wigan a draw in a game that a more direct performance might have yielded all three.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Robles 5, nothing to do except pick the ball out of the net
Scharner…5, never looked comfortable on the ball
Alcaraz…6, looked composed
Figueroa…5 , given a torrid time by Townsend
Boyce (c) …6, led by example
Beausejour…5, too casual, withdrawn
McCarthy…7.5, best of a bad bunch
Gomez…5, offered little going forwards
McManaman…6, faded after the break, withdrawn
Kone…5, little chance to shine
Maloney…7, excellent goal, dangerous throughout
McArthur …5, didn’t effect the game for Beausejour
Di Santo…5, ran around a lot for McManaman
Att …. 16,658
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