Wigan opened their Championship league campaign in sun kissed Barnsley with a comfortable four nil victory , a result that in truth flattered Barnsley, so dominant was Wigan’s performance with Ben Watson the stand out performer.[PPD_PAYTOREADMORE]
Owen Coyle went for a mix of the old and the new with his team selection with five of his new signings staring in Carson, Holt, Perch , Crainey and Barnett along with six of last season’s first team squad.
Wigan were immediately on the ascendancy with Beausejour looking particularly dangerous down the left wing, cutting past the right back time and again and fizzing over crosses which put Barnsley keeper and captain Luke Steele under all sorts of pressure.
Roared on by a magnificent travelling support of over three thousand fans Wigan continued to pressure with Barnsley very rarely breaking out of their own half and the best chance in the opening exchanges fell to Maloney but his shot was well saved by Steele. Wigan can consider themselves unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty for a blatant shove from a corner on Barnett but Mr Elkington the referee whose performance took pedantry to a new level waved away the appeals.
Scott Carson in the Wigan goal had a quiet afternoon in contrast to his opposite number but showed his quality when saving well when in a one on one with a Barnsley attacker although the offside flag had already been raised.
Wigan’ s opening goal had a touch of Premier League quality about it. A well worked passage of play saw the ball find Watson just outside the penalty area and his low powerful shot beat Steele at the right hand post and Wigan had a deserved lead they never looked like surrendering.
James McCarthy showed his battling qualities all afternoon as well as his silky skill and that he was not afraid to get stuck in and following a determined piece of play he tested Steele’s mettle and forced a fine shot from the embattled keeper.
The half time whistle brought roars of approval from the travelling Wigan hoards who had seen forty five minutes of power, speed and no little skill from their new look side with the hope of more of the same in the second half.
They were not disappointed as Wigan tore into their game but outclassed opponents and it was no surprise when Holt who had given their defence a torrid time all afternoon popped up unmarked to turn in a deflected Boyce shot for the second goal. There was a hint of offside but despite Steele’s protestations the goal stood.
If the crowd thought it was all over then it was very soon afterwards as Holt and Jennings both went for a fifty/fifty ball. Holt was left writhing in agony and Mr Elkington issued a straight red and Barnsley were down to ten men.
Soon afterwards, Wigan made a double substitution with Beausejour and McArthur being withdrawn for McManaman and McCann.
Both had immediate impacts with McManaman’s teasing runs causing all sorts of problems and McCann who fired in a ferocious goal bound shot which was well saved by Steele.
From the resultant corner the lead was increased, when Barnett on his debut had two strikes at a ball from a corner, the second ending in the back of the net.
Wigan settled into a possession pattern of play and after one passing movement of over forty passes the ball fell to Maloney from a blocked shot from Fortune and the diminutive Scotsman made it four nil to the Wiganners.
Full time brought wild celebrations reminiscent of winning the F.A.Cup final with lots of fists being pumped into the air from both the fans and the team , a sign of the team spirit Coyle as manager is engendering within his squad.
Team Line up and player ratings
Carson……7 , one of the quietest afternoons of his career.
Boyce…….7, led by example
Crainey……7, the new Scott Green as evidenced by his full time celebrations.
Barnett…..7.5, dangerous going forwards.
McCarthy……8, showed his class.
Beausejour…..7, gave the full backs a torrid time.
Maloney……..7, worked hard.
Watson……..8.5, man of the match, an excellent performance.
Holt…….7.5, led the line superbly
McManaman…..7, looking back to his best.
McCann……7, Looked comfortable in central midfield.
Fortune……7, dangerous every time he touched the ball.
Att 13, 096
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