Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Sunday September 26 2010
Wigan Athletic maintained their good away form yesterday against Birmingham City at St. Andrews who also preserved an unbeaten home run stretching back 12 months.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez made one change from the side that lost to Manchester City last weekend, replacing Franco Di Santo with Ronnie Stam giving the side a more defensive feel about it.
Charles N`Zogbia was predictably given a bit of stick by the home supporters who were keen to let him know what they thought of him after the Frenchman decided to stay put at the DW Stadium rather than take a summer move to Birmingham.
So it was no surprise that it was N`Zogbia who was first to show in the game, a good run down the left drawing two Birmingham defenders and then he squared the ball to the incoming Rodallega who hit a side footed strike that was heading into the bottom corner but for a lunge and good block from Birmingham defender Scott Dann, almost a desperate lunge from desperate Dann.
Dann`s block resulted in a series of corners for the Latics, none of which looked threatening; we really need to work on this aspect of our game, the set pieces.
Birmingham defender Roger Johnson once again turned on the hysterics following a challenge from Hugo Rodallega midway through the first half, both players went for a high ball and Johnson saw fit to chase Rodallega accusing the Colombian of leading with his elbow, replays clearly showed otherwise, this is a trait that Johnson is renowned for, he used it to get Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen sent off earlier this season and he`s tried it before with Rodallega, a trait known as big girls blouse syndrome
The Johnson hysterics led to other Birmingham players getting involved and for a short time a bit of a fracas broke out, referee Mark Clattenburg should be congratulated for his handling of the situation which resulted in Rodallega and Johnson getting yellow cards and told to calm down.
The rest of the first half saw the Latics take the sting out of the Birmingham attacks with some good defensive play, Alcaraz once again outstanding and Al-Habsi as safe as houses, though in stoppage time at the end of the first half there was the merest of jitters when a Larsson free kick slipped from Al-Habsi`s hands and squirmed through his legs, but the Oman international was quick to pounce at the second attempt and Clattenburg blew for the half time cuppa.
The second half saw Latics create the better chances and look the most dangerous when in possession, on 59 minutes Franco Di Santo came on to replace Ronnie Stam and this gave the impetus to the away side with Di Santo and Rodallega both going close, Foster in the Birmingham goal made a smart save following a turn and shot from Hugo which was going in the bottom corner.
With the game coming to a close Di Santo received the ball in the centre of the pitch, Birmingham midfielder Craig Gardner jumped in two footed with a rash challenge that caught the Latics man above the ankle leaving the referee with no choice but to issue a straight red card.
A scruffy game but a great point for the Latics who turned in a real dogged performance
Date:Sunday September 26 2010
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