In the morning people will open their Sunday papers and see that Wigan gained a two all draw at home to Sotuhampton but this result does not reflect the total dominance in terms of attacking play and chances against a Wigan side who could only muster two chances on target ( they scored both) and produced a lethargic, disjointed and spiritless performance which doesn’t bode well for the survival battle ahead.
Roberto Martinez made two changes from the side which earned a draw at Stoke, Stam replacing the injured Boyce and new signing Paul Scharner replacing Roman Golobart.
Wigan started the game nervously with too many short passes going astray as their pumped up opponents closed down every Wigan passing move creating errors and when in possession their slick play caused problems for a slow static Wigan side who spent most of the first forty five camped in their own half.
Too many WIgan players had off days with honourable exceptions in Maloney, Caldwell, Figueroa and Scharner. Midfield was especially wasteful in possession and ineffective going forwards, Di Santo cutting an increasingly isolated figure up front.
Southamptons play was fresh , fast and exciting, Lambert gave Wigan a torrid time ably supported by Puncheon and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored.
A goal did come but amazingly totally against the run of play it fell to the home side, when from a pin point corner from Beausejour, Caldwell rose majestically to head the ball past Boruc and Wigan had the lead.
WIthin a minute Southampton were almost level when a casual clearance by McCarthy bounced back off Schneiderlin and forced Al Habsi into a wonderful save to maintain Wigans lead.
The rest of the first half was all Suuthampton as Wigan seemed content to sit in their own half with ten sometimes eleven men behind the ball as they sought to keep their first home clean sheet of the season, to the increasing disquiet of the fractitious home support.
The first half was brought to a close and both sides trooped off with all fans in the ground expressing amazement that Wigan had been able to maintain their lead under an almost continuous assualt from their far more organised and skilful opponents.
The second half started in much the same as the first half and two balls went agonisingly across the goal line with no Southampton player able to get a foot to the ball with Al Habsi and his defence well beaten.
Wigan defended deeper and deeper and within ten minutes of the re-start the team adopted a 4-5-1 formation as they desperatley sought to retain their lead by bringing Gomez on for Stam and playing Scharner and Beausejour and full backs. History and the record books will show that it didnt work and it was n surprise when the powerful Lambert bundled the ball over the line in a scramble when too many Wigan players failed to clear the ball.
Southampton continued to press as Wigan’s play looked more ragged and Southampton took the lead when following an isolated Wigan attack, Southampton broke at pace, exposed the slow WIgan midfield and defence and Schneiderlien was left with an easy tap in.
This sparked Wigan to life and with Scharner and Maloney now attacking with purpose a flick on by Scharner from a corner was bundled over the line by Maloney to give Wigan a totally undeserved equaliser.
The full time whistle brought muted boos but th emajority of the fans expressed sighs of relief although two home wins and no home clean sheets suggest that their Premeir League tenure is very much at risk.
Line up and ratings
Al Habsi…..7, one wonderful save.
Stam…….5, embarassing defending
Caldwell….7, worked hard, excellent goal.
Scharner….7, settled in well, attacked with his customary verve.
Figueroa…..7, worked hard.
McArthur…..6, kept going but acheived little
Espinaoza….5, an off day
Beausejour…..4, low on confidence, v poor
Di Santo…..5, little chance to deliver.
Maloney…..7.5, one of the few to give his all
Gomez for Stam ( 56 mins) …..5, offered very little.
McManaman for Espinoza ( 75 mins)….5. little chance to shine.
Henriquez for McCarthy (90 mins) ….a wasted substitution, too little too late
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