A much anticipated match at the DW stadium ended in a dismal 2-2 draw for Wigan and Spurs. Both teams urgently required that vital win however neither achieved the three points they so desperately needed as Wigan were looking to come clear out of the relegation zone and Tottenham were vying for the coveted 4th spot, securing their position for Champions League football.
Right from the start Wigan were on the back foot and with Tottenham pressing well, the Latics found it difficult to penetrate into Spurs’ half. Whenever Wigan did seem to find the ball, via the likes of Jordi Gomez, indeterminable and sloppy passes coupled with a lack of coordination just landed the ball straight back to the visitors.
Within the first ten minutes Tottenham were ahead after a frankly comical sense of defending and goalkeeping from Wigan. Maynor Figueroa was forced to pass back to Joel Robles after some good pressing by Jermaine Defoe, but as Robles did try to make a clearance, Bale showed up and deflected the oncomer, allowing the ball to rebound into the Wigan net in the process.
Once again, Wigan looked as though they were on the verge of a heavy defeat at the hands of one of the league’s top teams but just two minutes later they found themselves on even terms again. From a corner, Boyce was able to escape Jan Vertonghen, who’s defence marking was all but questionable, and head the ball past Hugo Lloris to equalise.
The game began to settle back into its previous pace with Wigan now making it slightly more difficult for Spurs than they had prior to Bale’s goal. Both teams were playing good but very mediocre football, not creating the chances that the play deserved. Midway through the half, Arouna Kone beautifully launched the ball over Lloris from a Gomez pass, and although beating the keeper, his effort landed on the roof of the net.
The game failed to produce the same level of excitement that it had in the opening period, and was only notable for injuries on both sides. Figueroa had to leave in the 34th minute with a groin injury, and Lewis Holtby replaced Moussa Dembele six minutes later who had injured his hamstring.
Chances came and went for Tottenham just before half time, when Bale headed the ball over the net from a cross, and then Defoe tried to take the ball round Robles only to be stopped by the Spaniard.
Wigan were right to be happy with their first half performance as after the opening goal, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were going to receive a thrashing from Spurs.
It was Wigan who came out after half time with the bigger urgency to win however, and they fully deserved it when McManaman put them ahead four minutes into the second half. James McCarthy gave him the ball just outside the box before he turned inside Kyle Naughton and fired the ball past Lloris from the edge of the area. Whatever Roberto Martinez had said to his players at half time had clearly paid off.
Wigan suddenly had a spring in their step and kept pushing for another, while in a complete reversal of the first half Tottenham appeared to have lost all cohesion on the pitch and started struggling to put together any meaningful kind of attack whatsoever. The home side maintained a good defensive shape for the a while and did a great job of stopping Bale from having any sort of impact on the match.
When Benoit Assou-Ekotto was introduced midway through the second half, Spurs started making their mark on the game again. Clint Dempsey managed to break into Wigan’s box, but James McArthur stamped his authority with some brilliant defending to stop the USA star from attacking Robles’ goal. Back at the other end of the park, Wigan were pushing men forward but failing to get on the end of the many crosses they were hitting into the box.
With Spurs’ increasingly urgent need for a win running out of time, Aaron Lennon was brought on to give Wigan something else to think about. However, it was the home side who still had the best of the chances as Kone found himself one on one with Lloris, only to be beaten by the Frenchman, and Franco Di Santo fired the ball just narrowly wide when he could have found Shaun Maloney in space.
As the game approached the final whistle, Tottenham finally found an equaliser. Huddlestone took a free kick from the side of the box and found a way through to Holtby, who kicked the ball into the net by way of deflection off Boyce. You could hear the heartbreak in the cries of the Wigan support, as a win for their team would have taken them out of the relegation zone until Monday at least.
The conclusion of the match saw chances for both sides, but a disappointing draw was to be the result for the teams who both needed vital wins for different reasons.
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