Frustration reigned at the DW Stadium for both the Latics and the Trotters as the sides played out a no-score draw in front of a decent Wednesday night crowd. The club’s promotions drew an above average attendance for this hard-fought Lancashire derby, which saw both teams create few chances and even fewer shots on goal.
The cynical may point to the badly worn DW Stadium pitch, ravaged by rampaging rugby men just five days earlier, as the primary reason for the lack of goalmouth action. Indeed, there’s no doubting that, at times, the pitch was a great hindrance, slowing the game down and causing miskicks aplenty for the likes of Zat Knight, Gary Caldwell and Titus Bramble. In fact, there wasn’t a single player who could say they really felt in control of the ball on the bobbly surface, and the almost inevitable long hoofs upfield were… surprisingly limited, actually.
For all Latics’ midfield dominance in the middle part of the game, they just couldn’t squeeze out the opportunities. Charles N’Zogbia hit Jussi Jaaskelainen’s crossbar on twenty minutes after rampaging down the Bolton left and getting a cross come shot to dip at just the right moment; Hugo Rodallega found himself through on goal with just minutes left of the first half, but a last-minute saving tackle denied him the chance of a cross to a waiting Marcelo Moreno.
The second half saw Hugo nod wide then blast an overhead kick way over the crossbar, but that was it in terms of chances for the Latics. Bolton had the better of the game in that department, especially in the game’s closing stages: Matty Taylor missed a couple of good, close-range chances that would have all but snatched the points.
Roberto Martinez listened to the criticism of his negative tactics against Stoke and made a surprise change just ten minutes into the second half, which saw Titus Bramble (niggling injury?) replaced by Jason Scotland.
Paul Scharner moved into the vacated centre-back position for the Latics, who immediately set about controlling the ball in the opposition half. Despite having three attackers on the pitch, Bobby stuck with the same, roughly 4-4-2 formation he had played up to this point, with Rodallega dropping back to a left midfield-come- forward position.
But it was encouraging to see Martinez going for the win, even if Wigan continued to struggle in the opportunities department. Charles N’Zogbia looked the most threatening, making his usual runs with the ball from the midfield and cutting across the Bolton penalty area. He saw most of his shots blocked, however, and nobody else ever really threatened.
Bolton gained some control as the game wore on, and looked the more like scoring in the final ten minutes of the game. This was despite the introduction of Victor Moses, who made two promising runs down the left hand side. He even had a chance to win the game for the Latics, but the acute angle proved too much and he only succeeded in finding the side netting as the game drew to a close.