Wasteful Wigan Pay The Penalty
Britannia Stdium, Stoke
Tony Pullis was quoted in the press as saying you never knew which Wigan team was going to turn up and he was correct as Wigan served up two contrasting halves of football.
Wigan dominated the first half, were on the back foot for most of the second half and nearly snatched it at the end but wasted the penalty.
Martinez had been forced into changes with Thomas suspended and replaced by Koumas and had opted to move Rodallega up front by dropping Scotland with Gomez coming onto the right wing,N'Zogbia switching to his favoured left wing.Kirkland managed to recover from his back spasm to start between the posts.
Wigan started off at a high tempo and Stoke were forced to resort to kicking chunks out of the Wigan players with Gomez the major recipient of some frightening tackles most of which were punished only with a free kick.
As per usual N'Zogbia was Wigan's main creative outlet looking to put Rodallega through at every opportunity but the Colombian failed to have a clear shot on goal with Huth and Shallcross keeping a close eye on the mercurial striker.
Latics took the lead with Boyce once again the scorer, Sorenson made a brilliant save from a Rodallega header but Boyce put his body on the line to put in the loose ball, sustaining a nasty head injury in the process.
Latics were comfortably in control and should have had a pebalty wehn Scharner was upended in the area but Mr Dean waved play on so when the equiliser came it was against the run of play. Shawcross lofted a ball over the all too often static Wigan defence and with the Wigan back four looking for the offside flag,the linesman correctly kept his flag down and Tuncay who was subject of some interest to Wigan in the previous transfer window, buried the ball past Chris Kirkland.
The start of the second half descended into farce with referee Mike Dean counting the Wigan players and realising that Wigan only had ten men with Emerson Boyce failing to appear for the second half . He went over to the Wigan bench but as the substitution wasn't ready he was forced to start the second half with Wigan a man down.
Much speculation has been made about Wigan's lethargic second half performances and once again something must have been put into the half time cuppa as Wigan defended deep allowing Stoke to pour forward, with a Wigan back four looking more and more nervous. Stoke had several clear cut chances as a result of defensive lapses with Melchiot particulary having a poor second half but failed to take their chances.
The first shot on target Wigan had in the second half will probably been shown on goal highlights for many years to come.
The ineffective Sinclair was fouled just in his own half on the left hand side of the pitch. Figueroa took a quick free kick and spotting Sorenson off his line blasted the ball towards the goal. The backpedalling keeper failed to make the yards as the ball nestled in the bottom corner sparking a wild sprint to celebrate in front of the Wigan fans ( including Hendry Thomas).
Once again Latics failed to hold onto a lead and within two minutes Stoke were level with Kirkland at fault when he came off his line allowing an Etherington cross to be headed into an empty net by Shawcross.
Stoke pushed forward looking for the winner but Wigan held firm and almost won the game at the death.
Gomez in his best performance to date in a Wigan shirt was upended in the Stoke penalty area but the normally reliable Rodallega hit an awful shot which was easily saved by Sorenson who had ventured off his goal line.
Latics still had a couple of half chances in injury time but a draw was a fair result.
Martinez will be left to ponder on a poor second half once again and questions have to be raised re the stamina of some of the players.