A rare successful foray into first team experimentation for Roberto got the decade off to an excellent start for the club, but it was a familiar face that helped turn the tide for the Latics. Care to guess, though, how the BBC reported this match? I’ll give you one try.
The mainstream media outlets had a good old-fashioned field day, hauling out the tried and tested ‘Little Wigan, paltry attendances’ angle just because many fans decided they’d rather be in the pub or something. As a result, a little over 5,000 witnessed Latics’ biggest win of the campaign thus far, even if it wasn’t in the Prem.
The ten thousand-odd ‘missing’ people that decided not to brave the bitterly cold weather may wish they’d made the trip to the DW to see perhaps Wigan’s best performance of the season. Goal wise, it was certainly so, but with a hint of good fortune thrown in there as well. But was it really worth getting frozen feet for? Well yes, actually, but only really in the second 45.
Scott Sinclair made much of Wigan’s early running, causing Hull many problems on the wing and pressing his case for a first team start in Mohamed Diame’s continued absence from the midfield. For all their sprightliness in the first 20 minutes, however, the closest Wigan would come in the first half was a shot-come-cross courtesy of the aforementioned Sinclair pretty early on in the piece.
The remaining 30 minutes weren’t exactly vintage Latics, and a lineup that saw many serial bench-warmers get their chance looked to be slowly crumpling under the pressure of first team football. A string of Hull free kicks in shooting vicinity around the 35 minute mark saw Geovanni slot a decent free kick past stand-in ‘keeper Mike Pollitt to send the Tigers into the half time interval with a deserved one-goal cushion.
A somewhat frosty reception for a clearly miserable Latics faithful saw Martinez’s men booed off at half time (but not from myself, you understand) and I’ll bet a bunch of them wish they’d decided to stay at home in front of a warm fire.
It took Charles N’Zogbia, who entered the fray for the start of the second period, to get Wigan on the scoresheet with what was his first foray into enemy territory on 47. This reshuffle, which saw Sinclair switch to left wing, worked wonders as pretty soon Wigan were swarming all over the Hull goalmouth like Gary Megson at a free all-you-can-eat buffet. Two goals in three minutes, first from James McCarthy — who required a bit of a deflection for his shot to beat Boaz Myhill — and N’Zogbia once again, all but killed the game off with half an hour to play.
A fine (and fully deserved) strike from Scotty Sinclair placed the glazing on the cherry on the icing on the pavements of Wigan town centre. Incidentally, it really was rather slippery out there, and evidently we were the only ones that decided to utilise public transport for this game. Still, we agreed it was worth the £15 we each parted company with for an afternoon in Wigan’s largest freezer.
One thing, however, would have made the afternoon even better: a strike for the goal-starved Jason Scotland. His best opportunity came on 84 minutes, which saw him in a two-on-one situation with the last Hull defender and goalkeeper. Unfortunately, much like each of his previous attempts this season, the attack simply petered out and not even the full backing of the northern end of the East Stand could will him on to stick the ball int’ onion bag. Scotland’s frustration continues, and it’s now anybody’s guess whether he’ll make the starting lineup against Aston Villa at the DW in a week’s time.
What of Bob’s first team fringe players? Well, six changes were made to the side that got spanked at Old Trafford, giving a chance to the likes of Antonio Amaya, Jason Koumas and James McCarthy. The latter had a decent game, and didn’t look entirely out of place in the centre of midfield – a goal ensured he would have something to remember from this tie.
Koumas was largely ineffective, and understandably subbed at half time – to a round of applause no less. Antonio Amaya looked solid in defence and dealt with pretty much everything that was thrown his way alongside Titus Bramble at the back. He even got a half chance to flick one into the Hull net from a second half corner.
Ben Watson came off the bench late in the piece and as a result didn’t really have enough time to make much of an impact, but it was nice to see him return to action for the Latics having spent a spell on loan at QPR for the past few months.
Of the first-team mainstays, Hugo Rodallega was his usual busy self and could easily have had himself a goal if it weren’t for Boaz Myhill preventing his backheel from finding the back of the net. Mario Melchiot and Titus Bramble both made some forging runs and important defensive tackles, but it seemed to take that first Wigan goal for things to really click into gear.