Bob’s battlers weathered an early storm to grab a point against local rivals Bolton, though it could well have been more had things transpired slightly different.
The Trotters had the better of the early stages, putting Latics under plenty of pressure in their own third and making the home side’s defence look decidedly dodgy. Thankfully, Alcaraz et al managed to survive a couple of shaky spells to repel pretty much all attacks, to the extent Bolton didn’t manage a shot on target in the whole first half.
Wigan, by contrast, had their fair share of attempts, at least one of which made Jussi Jääskeläinen scramble just a bit. N’Zogbia put the ball just wide of his right hand post before Hugo Rodallega got in a shot from distance, though on this occasion the Finn managed to control the ball away from any advancing Latics frontmen.
Things were soured somewhat by the loss of James McCarthy, stretchered off midway through the half with ankle ligament damage. His replacement, Mo Diame, would ironically inject some urgency into the centre of Wigan’s midfield, and help to turn things around just when the home side were really under the cosh thanks to some good man-to-man marking by Bolton.
Nil-nil at half time was a fair reflection of a half in which both sides looked a tad sloppy and struggled to challenge the opposition goalkeeper.
The second stanza was an altogether different story, with the game sparking to life on 59 minutes as Rodallega slotted the ball past the Bolton keeper for his third of the season. There was a hint of offside about the build-up — and by that I mean Hugo was certainly offside — but nobody in the South, East or West Stands was complaining. It was around this time that Charles N’Zogbia found that extra something to take his game to a higher level, the likes of which we haven’t seen since… well, last week.
Bolton were back on level terms, though, as a bit of dodgy defending saw the ball land perfectly at Elmander’s feet – he couldn’t miss, and didn’t. But from thereon in it was all Wigan as Rodallega came close on a couple of occasions and N’Zog continued to trouble every one of the visitors’ defence each time he got the ball. Tom Cleverley, who replaced the impressive Jordi Gomez with less than ten minutes to play, was equally competent, managing two efforts in the short time he graced the DW turf. Something of a pity, then, that we are unlikely to see much more of him here at Wigan, though I will be happy if he can at least get us a goal or two before he returns to Old Trafford.
On the whole, a good performance that could so easily have seen Bob’s men to all three points. For the second week in a row we’ll have to settle for a point when we perhaps deserved more, but them’s the breaks, I suppose. Hugo was approximately one yard offside for his goal, and it was nice to see us get a bit of luck with the second and third officials for a change. Usually, it’s the opposition that’s enjoying such luxuries, but then our attacking play today was well worth this luck and at least one goal, probably two.
Apart from that, there isn’t much to report. Emmerson Boyce took a bit of a knock, but it didn’t look too serious so perhaps he’ll be back for Tuesday’s encounter with Swansea City, who’ll no doubt give their former management team a barracking. Hopefully not, though, and we can sail through the quarters of the Carling. Recent performances point to an upturn in fortunes and quality, so it’s definitely not out of the question.