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Wigan Athletic 2-0 Stoke City (Wigan fan's perspective)

Sunday 1st April 2012
Wigan secured their first home win for seven months on Saturday after beating a poor Stoke City side at the DW Stadium. Goals from Antolin Alcaraz and Victor Moses gave the home side the three points to build on the impressive win at Anfield the previous weekend.

From the off Wigan looked desperate to finally claim three points at home after thirteen winless matches on home soil. They were keen to try anything and for the first time since 'that' day against the Hammers last May the home side chose to let the away team attack towards their own fans in the first half. It worked!

In the first half it was Stoke who started the better. For the first 20 minutes they had most of the ball and most of the chances. As Wigan came into it in the latter stages of the opening period you started to wonder if it was going to be one of those days. Probably the best chance of the opening period came the way of Franco Di Santo. He closed down a Wilkinson clearance and with a clear run at goal he took one touch too many and allowed the 'keeper to make a save.

Emmerson Boyce and Jean Beausejour got forward well from their respective full back positions and both were guilty of missing great chances to score. The latter in particular should have scored when he fluffed a Victor Moses ball across the face of goal when it was easier to score.

How Jermaine Pennant stayed on the pitch is anyone's guess. He twice should have been red carded for off the ball incidents, both on Jean Beausejour, which went unpunished by referee Mark Clattenburg. First Pennant kicked out at Beausejour while on the floor, while later he slapped the former Birmingham winger across the face after a silly foul was conceded. Clattenburg didn't punish either incident, which pretty much summed up his day. It wasn't really a difficult game to officiate, but he got pretty much all of the big calls in the game totally wrong.

Back to footballing matters and the second half was a different story for Wigan. Shortly after another incredible miss from Beausejour the home side went in front, and it was the Chilean winger who supplied it. The impressive Shaun Maloney caught Stoke napping with a quickly-taken free kick and when he supplied the ball to Beausejour out wide his magnificent first-time cross found the onrushing Antolin Alcaraz who beat Robert Huth to head home in off the far post and send the home supporters into raptures.

Wigan looked nervy after going in front, understandably so after squandering leads in the home games against Everton and West Brom in the last few weeks. The result was put beyond doubt in stoppage time. Victor Moses was the scorer. Andy Wilkinson, who must have thought April Fools Day was being staged a day early after his own personal horror show, was again robbed of the ball Moses on the halfway line. As Moses bore down on goal with still plenty to do he cleverly got round Begovic and slotted into the empty net to giftwrap the three points for his team.

It was the first time Wigan had won two consecutive matches since the end of last season, when they again beat Stoke City to stay in the Premier League. The rewards for this victory are not quite as big, but they could be a massive stepping stone to another Wigan Athletic great escape.

Special mention must be given in particular to James McCarthy and James McArthur, who were excellent again in the middle of the park. The former Hamilton pair are really battling for the cause and have kept out the likes of Momo Diame and Ben Watson in recent weeks. Shaun Maloney has come into the side in recent weeks and has been an absolute revelation. He's deceptively quick, closes down everyone and everything and never seems to lose the ball.

The defence is looking solid, marshalled brilliantly by skipper Gary Caldwell, they look like giving little away. Indeed, just seven goals conceded in the last eight fixtures is not the sort of statistic you'd expect from a team in the bottom three fighting for survival. In the same period QPR have conceded 15 and Wolves have conceded 25.

To still be in the bottom three after such a good run of results is harsh on Wigan, but it's important to just keep picking up points and still be in the mix going into this final seven-game run-in. Only their inferior goal difference is keeping Wigan in the bottom three at the moment. It's something that could do with some improvement, but that will take some doing looking at forthcoming fixtures!

Nonetheless, form and results have turned around at the perfect time. Everyone wants to play and those that aren't fit are desperate to get back to help the cause. There are no signs of a team playing with the fear of relegation round their necks.

Friday was National Cleavage Day in the UK. Wigan have had their knockers of late but you just can't fault the way they're playing right now, picking up points at a stage of the season when it matters most. The club have picked up 13 points from their last eight fixtures, with the only defeat being at home to Swansea during that period.

Just the small matter of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal next then! No problem!

Wigan Athletic:  Al Habsi, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Caldwell (c), Di Santo (Gomez 81), Maloney (Watson 69), Moses, McArthur, Boyce, Beausejour (Sammon 86), Figueroa.

Unused Subs:  Kirland, Crusat, Jones, Stam.

Goals: Alcaraz 54, Moses 90 (+3)

Starman: James McArthur

Stoke City: Begovic, Huth, Wilson, Pennant (Palacios 65), Shawcross (c), Whitehead, Walters (Fuller 65), Crouch, Etherington (Jerome 48), Whelan, Wilkinson.

Unused Subs:   Sorensen, Jones, Upson, Shotton

Starman: Mark Clattenburg

Attendance: 19,786
Stuart Alker

Total articles: 31

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