View From The Stands: Wigan Athletic

Clint Hughes

Bolton headed to DW Stadium with the wind in their sails following an impressive 3-0 win against Doncaster Rovers. Backed by strong away following, Freedman’s men were looking record back-to-back wins against a Wigan side buoyed by the recent managerial appointment of Uwe Rosler.

Andre Moritz made a rare start away from home and Darren Pratley retained his place in the centre of midfield alongside captain Jay Spearing. Wigan lined up in the currently fashionable 4-2-3-1 formation ‘spearheaded' by once England-touted carthorse Grant Holt.

Wigan got the better of the early exchanges as Callum McManaman began to impose himself on Alex Baptiste and the early pressure was rewarded when Wigan Athletic were awarded a penalty. The ball struck Matt Mills arm and despite the referee not giving the decision immediately, to the naked eye it appeared the correct one.

FA Cup hero Ben Watson stepped up and dispatched the penalty with conviction, giving Andy Lonergan no chance and The Latics were ahead.

Bolton Wanderers were struggling, it seemed every time they managed to get the ball, one of the forward players was offside. An early positive for the Whites was the clear quality of front man Joe Mason, whose ball retention skills were exquisite and gave Bolton some respite from Wigan pressure.

The Latics continued to get forward quickly, often through Liverpudlian McManaman, who was giving the poor Alex Baptiste a run around and absolutely no support was offered from nearest CB Tim Ream, leaving Baptiste sickeningly vulnerable.

Wigan's continued pressure paid dividends as on-loan Manchester United Midfielder/Striker Nick Powell's overhead volley looped over Andy Lonergan to give Wigan a two-goal cushion. Bolton tried to respond to give themselves a platform for the second half and Matt Mills fired wide with an improvised volleyed effort from a Andre Moritz corner. It would prove to be the last meaningful action of the first half and it was clear Bolton had a lot to do to find themselves back in this game.

Despite the humiliation of Alex Baptiste, neither side made any changes of personnel, although strangely, Wigan manager Uwe Rosler opted to switch his wingers sides. Bolton began in strong fashion and Andre Moritz fired a shot a shot which was saved by Wigan Goalkeeper Scott Carson, from the save, Moritz composed himself and picked out Neil Danns with across and the on-loan midfielder made no mistake and within four minutes of the restart, the Whites were back in the game, with their 4,500 away support rejuvenated.

Wigan responded by introducing James McLean and Stephen Crainey as the situation had changed dramatically and it was Bolton Wanderers who now were imposing themselves on Wigan Athletic. Wigan mustered chances as Watson and Powell had opportunities to reclaim Wigan‘s two goal advantage. For the Wanderers, Neil Danns and Andre Moritz were dictating the game and both nearly brought Wanderers level, with Danns' header clipping the crossbar.

Bolton were all over Wigan and eventually they were rewarded, Emerson Boyce's violent kick high on Chung-Yong Lee saw Kevin Friend point to the penalty spot for the second time. Given the red shown to Paulinho at Tottenham Hotspur on the same afternoon at White Hart Lane, Boyce can perhaps count himself lucky to be only shown a yellow card.

Once the needless fracas surrounding the decision was resolved and cheered on to chants of ‘Get Moritz out for the lads', the Brazilian fired home and Wanderers were level and their performance had merited that position.

With just under 30 minutes left on the clock, the game was there for the taking for the Wanderers as the momentum was strong in their favour. At this stage it was the belief of many in the stands to sacrifice the industrious Darren Pratley for either top-scorer Jermaine Beckford or the returning playmaker Mark Davies to give Wanderers the added attacking impetus to fully take advantage of the momentum gathered.

Bolton continued the way they were and were soon punished, the impressive Callum McManaman, who had been swiftly returned to the right-wing capped off a fine performance by firing home following a headed pass by Emerson Boyce and Wigan had regained the lead, the Wanderers bench still chose not to make a change.

The aforementioned momentum had now distinguished and Bolton struggled to create more guilt-edged chances. Andre Moritz' fine work on the left-hand side found Joe Mason but the Cardiff City loanee could only divert his chance wide as Bolton began to feel this may not be their day.

With 10 minutes remaining, Freedman finally introduced Jermaine Beckford and shortly after Mark Davies returned to first team action to the loud delight of the travelling support.

As Wigan introduced James Perch to change to a back 5, Bolton pushed for an equaliser, a Moritz snapshot was finely stopped by Carson. Bolton would only be able to create one further opportunity with Jermaine Beckford tamely firing the ball into the grateful hands of Scott Carson with his bent shot on the turn. The Latics would see out added time and Uwe Rosler would record a victory in his first home match in charge of Wigan.

Bolton can take heart from their second half reaction but ultimately were let down by defensive errors in the first half, Alex Baptiste in particular struggled to deal with the threat of McManaman and that cost the Wanderers dear on derby day.

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