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Match Report: Wigan Athletic 1-1 West Bromwich Albion (Albion Fan's Perspective)

Tuesday 20th March 2012
Of all people to score West Brom's equaliser away to Wigan, it had to be Paul Scharner. A player who in just under two seasons has endeared himself to the Albion faithful and who is a player still highly regarded up in Wigan, made sure that the bumper away following headed home with at least something to show from a game that Wigan really should have buried in the first half.

The chants of ‘that's why you're going down' have never seemed so apt at a match (unless you play the neighbours at Molineux, who truly are looking terrible). The draw put the Albion just four points away from the vital 40-point cushion, cementing the mid-table position we rightly deserve.

The team saw five changes from the side that lost to Manchester United, with Shane Long starting his first game in over three months, replacing Marc Antoine-Fortune. Billy Jones, Jerome Thomas, Nicky Shorey and Paul Scharner were the other changes, replacing the injured Peter Odemwingie, suspended Jonas Olsson and the benched Keith Andrews and Gabriel Tamas. The Wigan team saw Franco di Santo and Shaun Maloney replace Jordi Gomez and Hugo Rodallega.

The home team started the game the brighter side and continued like this for most of the first half. The first attack saw  di Santo volley the ball well over and then just a few moments later Ben Foster came to the rescue when he tipped the ball over the bar following another shot from di Santo, followed by Gary Caldwell sending an effort wide.

As the game progressed the Albion started to establish a foothold in the game, with the ever-impressive James Morrison seeing his shot clip a Wigan player and go wide. However, Wigan soon should have buried a chance when Emmerson Boyce headed onto the post from only six yards out. Before the end of the half the Albion were saved by the woodwork again when McCarthy rattled the post from 20-yards out. The ball rebounded down to Victor Moses, who had scored the only goal in the same fixture last season, only for him to be thwarted by the ever-reliable Ben Foster.

Wigan had a couple more chances and when half-time was called, the Albion fans felt very lucky. We had been by far the weaker team, and if Wigan had have put their chances away we would have been at least two goals down. Nevertheless, we weren't, so perhaps the second half could be a different tale.

The half started off with Maloney sending a shot straight into the hands of Foster, but within nine minutes the hosts took the lead through James McArthur, much to the delight of a rather quiet Wigan support. Victor Moses muscled his way past Shorey sending the ball into the centre, which should have been cleared by Billy Jones, leaving McArthur a simple tap-in. 1-0 up and all credit due, Wigan deserved it.

This goal seemed to spark the Albion into life and Thomas saw two chances miss, but soon enough we got an equaliser when Scharner headed the ball into the net from three yards out off a Brunt corner. Scharner kept the celebration to a minimum out of respect for his former club, but the travelling fans made more noise than Wigan when they had scored.

The game then could have gone either way, with both teams having chances. Youssef Mulumbu was soon in ref Michael Oliver's notebook when he appeared to push McArthur, resulting in a melee between both sets of players which saw a couple more players receive yellow cards. This ended up seeing Mulumbu booed every time he touched the ball, but this didn't stop the Albion pressing for a winner. But Wigan seeemed the more determined side, resulting in Foster having to push chance after chance away.

At the full time whistle there was a sense of relief for the Albion. It wasn't the best game we had played, but it was still a point away from home which is something I will always take. As for Wigan, it leaves them in a desperate situation at the bottom of the table. It's still uncertain who will go down, but Wigan's lack of firepower really showed: if it had been any other team, we would have lost by two goals or more.

Arguably, that's what football comes down to and Wigan were not good enough. We were by far the weaker team, but a point is a point and we can go back to the training ground, work on our play and get ready for Newcastle at the Hawthorns on Sunday, which will be a very tough game.

Man of the Match: Jerome Thomas. He frequently made breaks down the wing, and was often a threat, putting the ball in the box whenever possible. After a couple of injuries, it will be good to see Thomas play frequently again.
Alex Horton

Total articles: 18

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