A frustrating home draw for Birmingham boss Alex McLeish
Normally, you’d say a point away from home is a pretty good result. Not exceptional, but acceptable given the circumstances. This afternoon, I’m left considering missed opportunities rather than sitting here with my post-match Coke content with Latics’ afternoon’s work.
I will say that a draw was the fair result given the even nature of the game, but then those that turn draws into wins are the ones that stay in the Premier League. Wigan, just like their hosts, failed to make their opportunities count, but that doesn’t necessarily mean both teams will go down. In fact, from a quick glance at this afternoon’s results, exactly who will be in those bottom three places come May 2011 is anyone’s guess.
Despite the goalless scoreline, the match was far from your typical bore draw. There was plenty of open play to be had, and whilst there wasn’t a massive amount of shots on target, things often got exciting in the centre of the park.
Latics looked bright throughout, Charles N’Zogbia (who was roundly booed by the St Andrew’s faithful, and quite rightly too) the centrepoint of most of Latics’ first half forays into opposition territory. Mo Diame also made some early running, powering through the Birmingham half on more than one occasion.
It was the hosts who came closest in the first 45, however, as Cameron Jerome found the ball at his feet just metres from goal following a spilled Al-Habsi catch. Luckily for the Omani, he somehow managed to get in the way of it, and Wigan entered the break with their clean sheet intact. It was to be the final act of the first half, a period in which (once again) Latics had good spells of possession but failed to convert it to actual opportunities.
No matter, though, as there was a whole half of football to play yet. The second stanza saw much of the same attacking stuff from both sides, but the difference here was that Wigan started to seize some control. I say ‘some’, as even though they looked threatening on the break, you got the feeling there was always the chance the visitors’ back four would be exposed. And they were on a couple of occasions, Al-Habsi once again coming to Latics’ rescue with some decent saves.
There were no clear-cut chances for either side. Birmingham went close with a header just past the post. Wigan’s best moment of the second half was perhaps Franco Di Santo’s ball through to Rodallega which, had it been just a tad lighter, would have led to a certain goal, you feel. In the end the ball ran through harmlessly to Ben Foster, but the Argentinian’s powerful run to the edge of the area perhaps deserved a bit more.
The aforementioned Di Santo would later have to be removed from the field of play following a two footed challenge from Craig Gardner. Much to the dismay of the raucous home support, the ex-Villa man was issued a straight red for his sins. Nothing much else in the way of excitement would follow, Latics unable to capitalise in what little time (six minutes) remained, and the game petered out to a 0-0 draw.
Good points from the afternoon would be Wigan’s good physical presence and dominance of possession in the second half. A bad point would be Rodallega’s frst half petulance, though I think we can forgive him that because it certainly seemed to tweak the atmosphere up a notch.
Another negative is that today’s results didn’t really go our way, and we find ourselves only one place above the dreaded dropzone. Still, that’s a place higher than we were this time yesterday, and I doubt the FA are gonna be ringing round tomorrow to call a halt to this season’s proceedings as early as September.