June 18, 2024

Steve Bruce and Roberto Martinez shake hands

Tesco triumphed over Harrods in a relatively low-key encounter at the DW Stadium. Maybe there was a touch of complacency on behalf of Sunderland, who may have expected an easy ride against a team still reeling from the events of last Sunday.

I’d prefer to say, however, that it was a marked improvement over the Spurs debacle which ensured all three points for the Latics to take them up to thirteenth in the table and put to rest some of the demons of ‘WhiteHartLaneGate’.

As the players took the pitch, a somewhat nervy home crowd were more hopeful than expectant. In stark contrast, a heavily juiced up Sunderland support were baying for Wigan blood to follow up their defeat of Arsenal the previous week.

It was Wigan that had the better of the first half, however, with decent chances falling to Paul Scharner and Jason Scotland. The teams went into the half time at nil apiece, a scoreline The Black Cats would have been slightly the happier with.

Sunderland came out fighting after the half time break, and things looked to be swinging in the visitors’ favour as Hugo Rodallega suffered what initially looked like quite a nasty knock. Scott Sinclair was readied to replace the Colombian, but Latics would not need him.

If anything, the incident spurred Rodders on to a stronger second half performance in which he created numerous chances and caused the Sunderland defence some serious problems. On 76 minutes, he cottoned on to a dangerous pass from Paul Scharner and squeezed the ball into Marton Fulop’s net from a narrow angle. Thierry Henry would have been proud… maybe.

More breakaway chances would fall Latics’ way in the last ten minutes as Sunderland pushed for a goal, putting pressure on the home goalmouth in the closing stages. Wigan’s defences held firm, however, and though at times they may have been guilty of below-average finishing, they were good value for their 1-0 win.

Wigan now lie a mere three points behind their opponents of this afternoon, something you wouldn’t necessarily have expected considering Latics’ up and down start to the season. They were more than a match for a slightly below-par Sunderland, who now have to pick themselves up from the canvas for Fulham at Craven Cottage next Sunday.

Wigan face an arduous one-mile trek to Central Park Tesco for provisions to keep them alive until next week’s encounter with Birmingham. Steve Bruce is probably sobbing into his Harrods latte or something.

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