An improved second half performance couldn’t quite grab a vital point for Wigan at St. Andrews. In fact, things could have been even better considering Birmingham’s average second half, which saw Chris Kirkland tested only once, but Latics once again struggled to create opportunities.
A draw would have been very handy, but as it stands Wigan lie just a single point above the relegation zone with a tough test to come against Liverpool next Monday. The sheer frustration of the Tottenham and Bolton contests spilled over into another game without a goal and, more worryingly, little to no efforts on target.
As the commentators were quick to point out, when you’re at the bottom things seem ten times harder, and though Wigan had the majority of the 50/50 decisions in the second period, they could not capitalise on their good fortune. Again.
Wigan’s best chance came in the latter part of the game as Hugo Rodallega forced Joe Hart to advance from his line and make a solid save. It was a nice move that pounced on a Birmingham defensive mistake as McCarthy played in Hugo who got a decent effort in, but the Birmingham keeper was equal to it.
There was another good chance for either Gomez or Rodallega, who somehow managed to get in the way of each other, but that was it in terms of opportunities. It seems they’ve dried up in recent times, at the exact point we don’t want them to – not even the best efforts of the two young men Moses and McCarthy could create anything other than the odd tame effort rolling out for a goal kick. A pity, because as the game wore on you increasingly thought Birmingham were there for the taking: any dominance they’d built up in the first 45 just fizzled out as Bramble and Caldwell extinguished all potential attacks from City’s impotent front line.
It was the same story at both ends, with plenty in the way of smooth passing moves and decent spells of possession but no real firepower in front of goal. Wigan finished by far the stronger as they looked to push for the second, but Birmingham managed to hang on in the last 25 minutes and net all three points.
The first half was a different story, with Birmingham bossing both possession and chances. Wigan had opportunities of their own, but thanks to Chris Kirkland entered the final minute of the half with their clean sheet intact. Just when you thought it was mission accomplished, a challenge on the edge of the Wigan penalty area from Mario Melchiot saw Keith Fahey go flying, and the poor Wigan captain looked shellshocked when he finally realised the referee had given a penalty. It probably was, but contact was minimal considering Fahey’s wonderful impression of Amy Williams.
McFadden put it away, and that was that for the first half. Wigan, who’d up to this point been playing a 4-5-1 with Paul Scharner the playmaker, switched to 4-4-2 and introduced Scotland and Moses. It seemed to work, as the second half was much brighter with Wigan having more and more of the play as the game progressed… but no goal.
Overall, an excellent defensive performance, decent midfield controlling, but no experience to put the ball in the net. I’m struggling to think what else Wigan could have done, but it all comes down to not actually scoring, which must by now be completely baffling Martinez and the Latics management.