Wigan travelled up to a windswept North East searching for that elusive second victory of the season to lift them up the table. Unsurprisingly Wigan manager Roberto Martinez opted to retain the same lien up which was so unlucky to only leave the DW with a draw against Blackburn Rovers last weekend with injury worry James McCarthy passing a late fitness test. The only change on the bench being Franco Di Santo returning in place of Shaun Maloney.
Wigan immediately looked to use the conditions to their advantage and a long ball from the back saw Sammon bearing down on the keeper but the ball was too strong , allowing Westwood to make an easy pick up. Very soon after the start Cattermole, Sunderland’s captain and former Wigan player was forced to leave the pitch for treatment to a head injury following a clash with Gomez.
Sunderland were quickly in the ascendancy and a good header by Caldwell kept the Black Cats at bay.The nil all score line didn’t last very long however and following a mistake by Al Habsi who allowed the ball to spill from his grasp following a shot from Bendtner which he should have held and whilst he managed to block the goal bound shot from Richardson, Seb Larsson following up made no mistake as he put the home side ahead.
Sunderland were buoyed by the goal and were creating all the chances, Al Habsi redeeming himself with first a save from Richardson and then saving from a powerful header from Wes Brown at the resultant corner.
Up to this point Wigan although having the lion’s share of the possession were failing to create any real chances , the best a long range shot from Gomez which was easily saved by former Wigan target Kieran Westwood.
Wigan attacks were few and far between, Moses broke and fed Sammon but his cross was over hit and the opportunity was wasted.
Sunderland continued to press and Sessegnon broke towards the penalty area and was fouled in a Wigan sandwich of Stam and Gomez, thankfully for Wigan the foul was just outside the area. From the free kick, Al Habsi had to make a good save again after Larsson’s blocked shot reaches Bardsley to fires through a crowded penalty area.
Wigan looked thoroughly disorganised and well they conceded the ball in midfield Sunderland broke quickly and thankfully for Wigan his shot was blocked by Caldwell the ball spooning up for an easy catch to the keeper.
Once again Wiganlooked at sixes and sevens as Sunderland broke again and once again Al Habsi
was theWigan saviour saving well from a O’Shea header.Another minute another chance, as Sunderlandbroke at pace exposing Wigan’s defensive frailties, this time a woeful shot by Bardsley keeping the score down after good team work from the home side.
Wigan certainly didn’t have the fair share of the spoilslast week with referring decisions including a cast iron penalty appeal but were awarded a hotly contested penalty by referee Kevin Friend today ,which was coolly converted by Jordi Gomez after Moses went down in the area, with Larsson the culprit claiming that there was little or no contact on the Wigan man.
Half time came with a Sunderland side leaving the pitch wondering how they were not ahead such was their dominance in terms of shots on target, whereas Wigan having been so much under the cosh for so much of the half leaving the pitch knowing that they were still in a game they didn’treally deserve to be in.
Both teams resumed after the break in pretty much the same fashion as the first with Sunderland starting the more positive of the two sides and Wigan forced onto the back foot. Sunderland claimed a penalty for handball following a shot by Colback but the referee waved it away.
Wigan’s first chance of the second half was a cross from Moses which was missed by the defenders but Sammon mis hit his shot when he should have done better and the follow up by a shot from Diame was comfortably saved by Westwood. Sammon seemed to be fired up and sought to out muscle Brown shortly afterwardsbut the Sunderland defender managed to hold of the Irishman.
Wigan grew into the game and with the home side’s fans becoming disgruntled with the team’s inability to take the lead and the manager in particular , Wigan sought to take advantage of Sunderland’s desire to press forward with Sammon and Moses both being thwarted by good defence.
The game was now end to end and Caldwell had to be alert to head the ball over his goal for a corner following a Larsson free kick. At the other end Moses’ pace was a constant source of concern to the Sunderland defence and once again he was fouled but Diame failed to trouble the keeper with the resultant free kick.
Martinez opted to make his first change to the starting lineup , replacing Ronnie Stam with James McArthur as a right full back/wing back.
Sunderland seemed to benefit the quicker from their substitutions when Colbeck beat McArthur and crossed but Richardson’s header went wide of the far post.
Wigan opted to replace the industrious Sammon with the more cultured Di Santo with five minutes to go as they looked to create an opportunity to secure their first away win of the
Sunderland pushed forward and were caught out when McArthur picked up a poor pass between Westwood and Brown, passing the ball quickly to Di Santo who had a simple tap in and Wigan had an unlikely lead which quickly became an unlikely win as the referee blew his whistle and both sides exited the pitch to the vast majority of the home fans booing Steve Bruce and calling for his head in contrast to the small but very happy band of Wigan fans celebrating their first away win of the season and their first win in any competition since August.
Team Line up
Al Habsi, Stam, Gohuri, Caldwell, Figueroa, Moses, McCarthy, Diame, Jones, Gomez, Sammon
McArthur for Stam 74 mins, Di Santo for Sammon 84 mins.
Man of the Match
Ali Al Habsi, at fault for the goal but kept Wigan in the game in the first half when Sunderland were threatening to run away with it.
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