A superb team effort from Owen Coyle’s chargers against the previously high flying Nottingham Forest saw Wigan secure their first home win of the season in an exciting, pulsating game at DW stadium yesterday.
With such a dramatic change in player personnel at the DW over the summer it wasn’t surprising that Owen Coyle has altered his Wigan team so frequently in the early games of the season as he searches for his best starting eleven and yesterday was no exception as Rogne, Espinoza and Gomez were brought in for their first starts of the season with a recall for Ben Watson and the welcome return from injury of the talismanic Shaun Maloney. These five were brought in to replace the injured Grant Holt and the dropped McCann, McArthur, Perch and Crainey.
The formation changed again into a 4-4-1-1 with Maloney providing attacking back up to the lone forward Fortune.
Both sides started brightly with Wigan very much in the ascendance with Gomez and Espinoza dominating midfield and Rogne looking solid at the back alongside Barnett. Up front Fortune was a constant threat with Maloney proving to be an able foil , Forest looked under the cosh often unable to break out of their own half.
However Nottingham Forest have in their ranks Andy Reid a diminutive Irishman who seems to have a predilection for scoring against Wigan and so it proved again yesterday when a clumsy foul just outside the area allowed Reid to try his luck with a free kick and his pin point accuracy into the corner saw Forest take a lead they barely deserved but questions need to be asked regarding the position of the wall.
Wigan didn’t let this set back deflect them from their style of football and with McCarthy controlling things from a sweeper role they continued to pour forwards in search of an equaliser. Once again they were indebted to the powerful running of Fortune who charged into the box and was upended by Hobbs and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
With chosen penalty taker Grant Holt watching on, on crutches the task of taking the penalty was given to Maloney. Maloney stepped up, gave a stuttering shimmy and placed the ball towards the bottom left corner. Darlow the Forest keeper got a hand to it but was unable to keep the ball out of the net and Wigan were level.
Both sides continued to push forwards with the game flowing from end to end with very few real cut chances although man of the match Rogne will be no doubt counting his bruised following a torrid afternoon competing against Halford.
Latics took the lead late on in the first half and once again they were indebted to the determination of Fortune who broke through the middle and fired off a powerful shot which bounced off the bar to where Gomez who coolly slotted the ball home.
Latics continued to look dangerous with the effervescent Espinoza continuing to cause all sorts of problems for Forest with the cool calm creativity of Gomez the perfect balance in midfield and the half time whistle blew with Wigan very much in the ascendancy much to the delight of the majority of the crowd.
The second half was a different affair but no less exciting. Forest as befits their pedigree pushed forwards looking for the equaliser with Wigan seemingly content to sit back and try and catch their opponents on the break. Wigan’s back four looked solid and the main worries seemed to be Carson’s obsession with punching crosses when it seemed easier to catch them.
Forest’s best chances were headers from Reid and Mackie both of which went over the bar and from Wigan , substitute McCann should have done better when a counter attack found him on the edge of the penalty area but the big Irishman fluffed his shot.
Full time brought a well deserved chorus of approval from the Wigan faithful and a valuable three points in their quest to return to the premier league.
Carson….6, Punching at crosses caused a few anxious moments.
Boyce….7, Cool calm and collected
Rogne….9, Man of the match, the new DeZeeuw?
Barnett….7, Formed an effective partnership with Rogne.
Beausejour….7, Looked comfortable both defending and attacking.
McCarthy…..7, Got through a tremendous amount of work as a sweeper.
Gomez…..8, Skilful and mercurial.
Watson….7, Worked hard, withdrawn.
Espinoza…..8, Effervescent and industrious, withdrawn
Maloney…..8, Critical to Wigan’s success yesterday.
Fortune…..7, Worked hard but tired in second half.
McArthur for Espinoza…..6, Worked hard out of position.
McCann for Watson…..5, looked off the pace, one good chance but he fluffed it.
McClean for Fortune …..n/a
Subs not used
Nicholls, Perch, Crainey, DIcko,
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