A fantastic second half performance from Wigan rescued a point against a lackluster Stoke City team who let a 2 – 0 lead slip far too easily.
The Potters looked to put the weekend`s F.A Cup disappointment behind them with a visit from relegation threatened Wigan Athletic. The Latics have always had a good record at the Britannia, even if some of the games aren`t what you would call ‘classics`. The game started out as you would expect, from two so called ‘Rugby` teams. Within the first 5 minutes of the game, Robert Huth and Wigan`s top scorer Franco Di Santo both went up for a header, and ended up clashing heads in mid air. Unbelievably, it was the big German who came worse off, and as both players regained their senses, the head bandages came out.
Throughout the first half, the possession was all to the home team. Stoke pushed forward at every opportunity and look menacing, the first half was both a great attacking display from the Potters and a great defensive display from the Latics, meaning most of Stokes early pressure was mainly wild shots from outside of the area. Etherington`s runs down the wing all ran to no avail as Wigan`s defense was able to deal with any threat down the wing very easily.
On the 22nd minute, Stoke finally had a bit of good fortune in the game and got their well-deserved breakthrough. Charlie Adam curled in a free kick into the danger zone, which Wigan couldn`t deal with. The ball was headed away into another Wigan player and this left Ryan Shawcross to slot a volley home from 5 yards for his first goal of the season. A defensive nightmare from the Wigan defense.
From this point onward, Wigan started to come into the game a little bit more, and they had their first proper attempt on the 41st minute when a powerful cross from Beasejour hit James McArthur to go wide.
The second half soon arrived, and Stoke had a dream start. A superb counter attack from Charlie Adam led to him running nearly the length of the pitch to fire his shot straight at Ali Al Habsi who couldn`t get a firm grip on the ball, and pushed it out directly into the feet of Peter Crouch who had the simple job of slotting into a near empty net for his 10th goal of the season, and potentially his last for Stoke.
Less than 2 minutes later, James McArthur who has been at the center of everything to do with Wigan Athletic through the game, broke through the Stoke defense after a superb pass from defender Roger Espinoza. A one-on-one with Asmir Begovic and a cool finish off the outside of his boot, and Wigan score with effectively their first real chance. 2 – 1.
Wigan started to up their pressure after their goal, and the pressure paid off on the 60th minute, when a cross was headed back into the center by McArthur, and as the ball landed to Franco Di Santo who put a superb volley in the bottom corner. 2 – 2, and based on Wigan`s second half performance so far, it is no less than they deserve.
Unfortunately for Stoke, the second half was an exact opposite of the first half, and the only thing the Stoke fans actually shouted was abuse and jeers at manager Tony Pulis, after he made a could of interesting substitutions, bringing our two best, most creative players in the form of Adam and Nzonzi off for Wilkinson and Jerome. The boos rung around the Britannia Stadium.
Wigan could actually have won the game in the 91st minute, after a cross from Maloney fell to Di Santo again, who was at full stretch to try and finish the game off, unfortunately for the Latics, he couldn`t get a clean contact on the ball, and that was it. The match finshed at 2 – 2, and the boo`s again rung around the Britannia Stadium.
He’s had a nightmare!
Roger Espinoza had a nightmare for me, in my years of watching the Potters play, i don’t think i have ever seen a player on the floor as much as the Wigan full back was. Completely at fault for Stoke’s second goal as well, after going down far too easily and waiting for the free kick that never came.