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Lacklustre Wigan fall to late Boro Strike

WIgan Athletic
0 - 1

JJB Stadium

4/10/2008 3pm

Attendance: 16,806


On a day which was dull and wet, compared to the bright sunshine of the City game,Latics who dominated the game, were made to pay after creating half chances but failing to take them.

Lee Cattermole was passed fit to play agaisnt his old club, Steve Bruce made one change bringing in Paul Scharener for Emerson Boyce.

Latics started the game in dominant fashion ,once again most of the creativity coming through the Melchiot/Valencia partnership.

Latics once again opted for a 4-5-1 formation when defending with Heskey dropping back into midfield and Palacios acting as the attacking midfielder.Palacios almost scored his first league goal for Wigan when Heskey flicked the ball onto him on the right.The angle was tight and with Turnbull narrowing down Palacios' shooting options , Wilson shot for the far post only to see the ball narrowly pass the post.

Zaki and Heskey were working hard and look to have the basis for a profitable partnership. However the difference today is that they were both marked by committed, no nonsense defenders in Riggott and Wheater who had done their homework on the Wigan pair and restricted them to half chances for most of the afternoon.

Once again Latics looked sharp at set pieces and Zaki shot into the side netting from a Valencia free kick. Zaki also had a shot from a free kick but fired wide.

Latics were attempting to play a good passing game agaisnt a Boro side, with an 18 million pound strike force who seemed content to place 10 men behind the ball. When Latics did create space, on too many occasions they seemed to try and walk the ball into the goal or delay the final pass with Kapo being the most wasteful.

Boro's most attacking outlet was Stewart Downing and a free kick was watched carefully by Kirkland as it fizzed over the bar. At the other end, Palacios once again tried to find his first goal for Wigan , however his shot was blocked.

Half time came with the score line nil apiece in a game that Latics had dominated in terms of possession and chances but had failed to seriously trouble Ross Turnbull in the Boro goal.

Boro started the second half with more purpose with Downing and Alliediere looking to stretch the Wigan defence. The game swung from end to end but failed to create the thrills engendered in last week's game. Palacios once again looked most likely to score, first creating space for himself before firing over and then forcing Turnbull into a good save.

At then other end Boro gave a warning to Latics about vigilance when Kirkland had to be quick to save from Digard.

With the game looking like meandering to a nil all draw, Steve Brucs sought to inject fresh impetus into the Wigan attack by replacing the ineffective Kapo with Koumas. Koumas immeadatley showed his class laying off some superb balls and providing testing corners from which Bramble almost scored.

One brilliant run by Koumas which saw him run across the Boro defence ended with a lovely shot which was well saved again by Turnbull.

Zaki and the industrious Palacios were replaced by Camara and De Ridder. Whether this had a destabilsing effect on an otherwise secure midfield is open to question however Boro broke down the right, Downing steered the ball into Alliedire's path and the Frenchman shot past the advancing Kirkland.

Latics poured forward in the four remaining minutes looking for an equiliser but the final whistle brought an end to a four match unbeaten run and a few posers for Steve Bruce on how to break down stubborn defences.

Star Player

Titus Bramble...8.5/10

Once again a titan in defence

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland...8/10

Had little to do but was excellent when called upon but could do little to stop the goal

Mario Melchiot...7/10

An excellent partnership with Valencia

Maynor Figueroa...6.5/10

Naive on occasion at the back

Titus Bramble...8.5/10

Immense at the back, must have impressed the watching England manager

Paul Scharner...7/10

Worked hard

Lee Cattermole...7.5/10

A hard working performance against his old club. Not as effective after his booking

Luis Valencia....7.5/10

Once again an attacking threat, worked hard in defence as well

Olivier Kapo...6/10

Caused very few problems for the Boro defence

Emile Heskey...7/10

Worked hard but well marshalled by the Wheater /Riggott combination

Amr Zaki...7/10

As with Heskey,worked hard but well marshalled by the Wheater /Riggott combination

Wilson Palacios...8/10

Bsck to his best, his substitution may have proved costly in unsettling the midfield

Jason Koumas...7.5/10

A good cameo performance

Henri Camara...6.5/10

One half chance, not on the pitch long enough to be more effective

Daniel De Ridder...6/10

Showed nothing in the short time he was on the pitch to suggest he will be pressurising the starting wingers for a place anytime soon

Manager Rating

Steve Bruce...7/10

His side today struggled to break down a defensive Boro side and his decison to bring Palacios off could have proved costly.

Opponent Rating

Gareth Southgate...7/10

Did his homework on the Wigan strike force and had a game plan which worked. Will win few fans for his style of football outside Boro fans however

Martin Atkinson..7/10

A good unobstrusive game from the referee but 3 Wigan players in the book and none from Boro gives a flase impression

Date:Saturday October 4 2008
Time: 7:09PM

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A draw would have been a fair result. Not breaking down stubborn defences and creating very few good chances for the strikers is a concern. Thankfully we have two weeks in which to fix it before the Liverpool game.
04/10/2008 19:12:00
We were robbed today, pure and simple. Just plain cruel.
04/10/2008 19:15:00
On another day we would have won this game quite easily, Boro looked poor but the result is we lost, still we played well and I am positive about this season, just a little set back today
04/10/2008 19:45:00
What happened to 'having the result in the bag'?
04/10/2008 20:39:00
As a City supporter I have little sympathy, just disbelief for this result. How on earth did you beat us (when we had two thirds of the possession) and then lose this one? If it was bad luck then now you know how it feels.
05/10/2008 00:04:00
Our first away win since dec 07, so i must say thank you Wigan. i personally expected another Boro loss on the road.
05/10/2008 07:43:00
Lacklustre is a bit harsh - Boro just got lucky. Boro played very well defensively but I'm not sure they earned the win, TheSmog. If we get relegated (just say we did) at the end of the season, then it will be very harsh but I'll be a Wigan supporter no matter what division we end up in.
05/10/2008 09:39:00
I stick with my assessment of Lacklustre, sure we dominated the play but the spark was missing from last week. We created very little for the front two and most of our shots were from outside the area which Turnbull easily dealt with. Whilst credit must be given to the Boro centre backs we will come up against better centre half pairings and must find a way to supply Heskey and Zaki with the ammunition
05/10/2008 13:51:00
Robin, isnt this the first loss you've had of the season? and you're talking about relegation. We lost to WBA at home the other week, you could say "not sure they earned the win", but if they score and you don't thats how it tends to go. you have Newcastle, hull and Spurs in the league, don't worry about being relegated :P
05/10/2008 13:52:00
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