Wigan grind towards safety
1/03/2008 5.15 pm
Wigan fans watching the screens under the stand at Eastlands yesterday were under no illusions that a defeat against an off form City who have only won one of their last seven games would place us firmly back in the relegation mire.
In the end both sides will have come away relatively happy with a point and both sides could point to good chances which should have resulted in a goal.
Killer who had been unable to train all week was replaced by the mercurial but unpredictable Koumas in the only change to the team which beat Derby last week.
The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides attempting to use the wings to stretch the defences.
City who played the lone Benjani up front with Vassell sitting just behind had the best of the early chances
Kirkland had to be particularly alert to get down at the feet of Benjani to block him when he was through on goal, the ball spinning loose to Melchiot who put the ball out of play for Kirkland to receive treatment to hios shoulder.
Mike Pollitt must have thought his birthday chance had come (he was 9 the day before) but after lengthy treatment Kirkland was fit to resume.
Latics came into the game more as the half wore on
Palacios who was particularly industrious feeding Valencia who gave Ball a torrid time all evening.
Up front Heskey looked the sharpest he has been this season and saw a header go narrowly wide whilst King had a rasping shot which would have tested Joe Hart in the City goal well blocked by a defender.
The one booking in the game came predictably to Michael Brown for a tackle on Elano which could have resulted in a red form Mr Bwennett who was his usually inconsistent self.
This was clearly evidenced when Edman jumped for a ball with Vassell who appeared to strike Edman in the face.
It was unclear whether it was accidental but the referee awarded Latics the free kick and didn`t even talk to Vassell let alone book him.
Vassell also showed no sportsmanship in not even checking on Edman as he walked back .
Nil apiece at half time was a fair score and as the rain began to pour down from the Manchester sky it was evident that the already slippy pitch would make life difficult for both teams to play good football and so it proved.
The second half settled into a midfield battle with very few chances to either side. City`s best was when Benjani who looked like beating the offside trap every time broke free and slice a shot horribly wide when there was only Kirkland to beat.
In the last fifteen minutes Latics began to dominate proceedings with the replacement of the willing but once again ineffective King with the ex City player Sibs who came on not to applause from the home crowd but some boos!
Heskey broke on the right but found no one in the centre, Sibs arrived and Emile flashed the ball over which Sibs couldn`t reach and had Koumas come forward in support the ball would had come to him, he hadn`t and the chance was lost.
Koumas almost made amends with a jinking run in which he looked to shot but couldn`t quite get the angle, he passed to the unmarked Valencia whose shot was once again well blocked.
Heskey who looked more dangerous as the game went one again crossed this time Sibs made contact but stretching could only fire the ball into the hands of Hart.
The best chance of the game fell to Palacios whose great shot was well saved by Hart but came back to Wilson who was falling away as he tried to put the ball into an empty net, unfortunately he couldn`t keep the ball down and the ball spooned over the bar.
The final whistle bought a round of applause from the Latics faithful following a spirited committed performance and an acknowledgement from the Latics players of an excellent vocal following from the away fans.
On sour note at the end was the 'jobsworth' steward who tried to stop Mario from throwing his shirt into the Wigan end. Mario neatly sidestepped him and completed his mission.
He`s here he`s there he`s everywhere. Not only a good defensive performance but some great runs forward.
Has produced a well organised team but I cannot fathom how Olembe got onto the bench.
Thankfully had no contentious decisions to make as he would probably have got them wrong. Was inconsistent which wound up both sets of fans