Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Sunday September 12 2010
A late goal by captain Antolin Alcaraz rescued a point for the Latics in a game that we really should have won after creating a host of chances and Sunderland being reduced to ten men mid-way through the first half.
The return of Titus Bramble to the DW Stadium in the red of Sunderland was a talking point before the game, also former player Lee Cattermole`s disciplinary misdemeanours had the home fans wondering if the 22 year old would last the game out, he didn`t.
Latics started the game brightly, carrying on from the good performance against Spurs last time out and Diame had a chance with a shot across the face of the goal from an acute angle, unfortunately the ball fizzed past the far post.
Without the game being over physical referee Andre Mariner appeared intent on stamping his authority on the game early on and bookings of Hendry Thomas and Lee Cattermole for innocuous challenges set the tone for what was about to happen.
Latics keeper Al-Habsi gathered the ball from a Sunderland free kick that was knocked into the area, the Oman international quickly released Latics striker Hugo Rodallega deep in his own half, Rodallega sprinted clear down Latics left with Cattermole in hot pursuit but flagging behind, Rodders reached the edge of the Sunderland box, Cattermole dove in, missed the ball, took the man and this time Mariner had no choice but to reach for his cards.
Cattermole received his second yellow of the game on 27 minutes and off he went. From the resultant free kick Rodallega skimmed the ball inches above the bar, the rest of the half saw the Latics dominate the game without creating too many clear cut chances.
Sunderland brought on their new £13 million signing Asamoah Gyan for the second half whilst on 54 minutes Martinez sent on N`Zogbia and new boy Franco Di Santo as he tried to give the Latics a more attacking threat.
Rodallega had a couple of efforts for the home side, first he tested Sunderland keeper Mignolet with a rasping shot from 25 yards which produced a good save, then Rodallega ran clear but managed to toe poke the ball the wrong side of the post, a chance gone begging.
Then Sunderland against the run of play took the lead.
A great cross from Henderson on the right was superbly volleyed home by Gyan for a debut goal that gave Al-Habsi no chance.
Latics desperately searched for an equaliser, Di Santo, who was having a good game, crossed the ball in from the left and with the goal at his mercy Boselli headed wide from a yard out. It looked like it wasn`t going to be the Latics day.
With time running out McCarthy won a free kick 30 yards out from the Sunderland goal, the ball was pumped into the box, Mignolet punched clear but only as far as Cleverley who hit a shot that was going wide, Alcaraz stooped low and got his head to the ball and directed it into the net for a dramatic equaliser.
1-1 final score, Latics have now gone three games without defeat and look like a team rather than a collection of individuals as they did back on the opening day.
Date:Sunday September 12 2010
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