I’m not sure who’ll be most pleased with a point today, as all things considered it was a fairly even contest. Perhaps Wigan will be slightly more disappointed having had a glorious chance to go 3-2 up with just stoppage time to play via a 90th minute penalty.
One thing’s for certain, it would have been an exciting watch for a neutral, perhaps so much so that it could be the first game on Match of the Day tonight, but we all know that’s never going to happen. Even if today’s game finished 7-7 it would probably be second last, but enough BBC bashing for now.
Right, now to the shambles that was the officiating in those dying moments. I had no qualms with any decision — even the first-half Scharner non-penalty (never a foul), which Sky buffs seemed to think should have been given for some reason — up until the penalty. A foul, no doubt, but had the linesman actually been awake he would have seen that Jordi Gomez was a good couple of yards offside in the buildup – not that Wigan would have been complaining at all.
In the end, justice was served thanks to a quite frankly appalling Rodallega penalty saved by Thomas Sorensen. Did the big Colombian bottle it? Certain souls at JWAW Towers reckon he should have just blasted it down the centre. However, it must be noted that Rodders was not helped by a linesman that, perhaps looking to make up for his mistake, failed to notice the Stoke keeper three yards off his goal line when the ball was struck. Ah, the wonders of technology, eh?
All this somehow managed to overshadow a half way line strike earlier in the piece. Yes, you heard me right, Maynor Figueroa bagged his first of the season from his own half, quickly taking a free kick that saw Sorensen off his goal line. Wasn’t exactly David Beckham quality — more of an opportunistic attempt — but a cracking effort nonetheless.
Minutes later, Figs ‘apologised’ to Stoke by allowing Shawcross to beat him to a header which nestled in Kirkland’s onion bag. Maybe old Glass Back should have stayed on his line, as one ever-so-knowledgeable Sky commentator hastened to point out. Whatever, another moment of brilliance cancelled out by slightly dodgy defending. It was probably deserved, though, as Stoke were in the ascendency just prior to the ‘freak goal’, and looked like pushing for the win.
Scores were level once again, just as they had been on 37 minutes thanks to Tuncay. A good finish slightly reminiscent of Rodders’ goal against Sunderland, but you have to ask what Melchiot was thinking as he simply looked around bemused at the non-appearance of an offside flag. It wasn’t an isolated incident, as ever since Latics conceded they looked like they could capitulate at any moment – don’t know if that’s fallout from the incident which must not be mentioned ever again.
Still, despite one or two (cough) defensive discrepancies, Wigan really had a chance to pinch all three points in the dying minutes of the game, pushing like mad and having one of those last-minute second winds we’ve seen so many of in this campaign. Granted, many were after the fact, but all three points were at stake as the game entered its final few minutes.
It was undoubtedly our best spell of pressure in the game, almost resulting in a goal and perhaps even a second penalty as Abdoulaye Faye had a bit of a wobbler against Charles N’Zogbia.
When the dust settles, though, I think Wigan will be happy with a point away from home. I suppose if you’re Wigan Athletic, you have to be. And I know I’d be happy with a draw against Liverpool on Wednesday.
It all seemed an awfully long time ago when Emmerson Boyce risked life and limb to bundle the ball into the Stoke net on 15 minutes to put Wigan 1-0 ahead. The resultant kick to the head meant he had to be bandaged up, but couldn’t make it back out for the second half as Wigan actually resumed with ten men. In fact, did that happen today or last week? So much happened, Sky will be justified in selecting this game for live broadcast.