Scotland strike saves Wigan's blushes
Meadow Lane , Nottingham
Roberto Martinez's Wigan were saved from further cup embarassment after goals from Jason Scotland and Ben Watson earned them a draw their second half performance just about deserved.
Latics made several changes from last week's winning line up, resting Kirkland,Melchiot,Caldwell, Scharner and N'Zogbia replacing them with debutant keeper Stojkovic, with Boyce at right back, Amaya partnering Bramble at centre half with Gomez and Sinclair coming into midfield and Scotland replacing the suspended Thomas .
Latics attempted from the first to play a pssing game from the keeper forwards but time and again the ball came backwards and the defence were forced to play the long , high ( and not so beautiful) ball forwards.
County on the other hand tore into the Wigan defence, never letting their more illustrious opponents settle with the wiley old campaigner Lee Hughes giving both Bramble and espicially Amaya a torrid time.
The warning signs were there early when Hughes for the first of many occasions, beat the offside trap and shot across Stojkovic's goal.
Latics passing was woeful and despite wearing their orange away kit , they didn't seem able to pass to someone on their own team. Any Latics attacking moves were as a result of solo work, with the only noticable chance in the first twenty five minutes being a Rodallega shot which beat Schmeichel, hit the post and bounced back into the grateful keeper's hands.
County made them pay when almost immeadatley ,Davies put the ball through to Hughes who resisted the challenge of the hapless Amaya and fired past Stojkovic. Hughes who endured an afternoon of verbal abuse from the away fans milked his moment to the full.
This should have sparked Wigan into life but there is little improvement and when Bramble committed a foul on the edge of the penalty area Davies curled a beautiful free kick past the static Wigan keeper. This sparked a chorus of boos from the frustrated travelling faithful which was almost assuaged when McCarthy hit the post from a tight angle.
The players trudged off at half time to a cacophony of boos, leaving the players with no illusion about the task facing them. In the first half only Boyce who constantly looked to attack down the right and work hard in defence emerged with any credit.
Martinez spared Amaya from any further embarassment, replacing him with another debutante in Steven Gohuri. The Ivorian was required to mark the bullish Hughes and must have wondered what hit him so torrid was the battle.
Latics also opted to drop Rodallega back into midfield, pushing Scotland forward and the move paid off after only seven minutes when a neat one two with Rodallega, saw Scotland score his first goal in twenty one games for the Latics.
Latics pushed forward looking for an equiliser and with the away fans chants for Charles N' Zogbia growing louder and louder , Martinez finally acquiesed bringing on the diminutive Frenchman and Ben Watson for the anonymous Sinclair and Gomez neither of who had made any meaningful contribution whatsoever.
These moves gave Wigan further impetus, with N'Zogbia seemingly immune to the lunging tackles of the increasingly beleagured County defenders.
County were not totally impotent in attack though and Hughes and substitute Luke Rodgers both forced Stojkovic into fine saves.
Latics finally secured the equiliser when N'Zogbia put a corner across, Bramble flicked the ball on and Watson headed home.
County still refused to lie down and Stojkovic was forced to tip over a deflected cross.
Full time brought a well deserved appreciation of the committed County performance but the questions of how Latics had been totally dominated for 45 minutes by a team over 60 places below them have not been assuaged.