A valuable point away from home or two points dropped? The latter would probably sum up this result better after Latics surrendered their lead over West Brom with little over 10 minutes of normal time remaining.
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE – THE HAWTHORNS – Tuesday February 1st 2011
WEST BROMWICH ALBION Odemwingie 5 Fortune 79
WIGAN ATHLETIC N’Zogbia 20 Watson 43
Roberto Martinez’ side had started the game brightly and almost had their noses in front inside the first minute.
Former Wigan favourite Paul Scharner failed to deal with a long ball forward allowing Hugo Rodallega to steal in on goal but the Colombian was denied by Gonzalo Jara’s timely intervention.
Wigan then found themselves behind against the run of play to Peter Odemwingie’s 9th goal of the season with only 4 minutes on the clock after being caught out with a counter attack with Jerome Thomas picking out the Nigerian with a slide rule pass.
The goal lifted the home side and they went close to adding a second through Jonas Olsson but fortunately for Wigan his powerful header from a Chris Brunt free-kick sailed past the upright.
Charles N’Zogbia, the subject of two failed bids by former club Newcastle United less than 24 hours earlier, showed just why he is so invaluable to Wigan.
He proved to be a handful for West Brom and it was one of his jinking runs at goal that ultimately earned Wigan the free-kick that the French winger duly converted with aplomb in the 20th minute to level the score.
N’Zogbia continued to pose a threat and another run saw him skip past Scharner and Jara but Boaz Myhill in the West Brom goal was equal to his shot from a tight angle.
Brunt went close in the 40th minute with a shot that flew marginally past the post but Di Matteo’s men found themselves behind a couple of minutes later after Jara found his way into referee Phil Dowd’s notebook for a foul on Maynor Figueroa to the left of West Brom’s penalty area.
It was Ben Watson’s turn to try his luck from the resultant free-kick and the midfielder, who spent a month on loan at The Hawthorns last season, delivered a low curling drive across goal that fooled everyone before finishing in the far corner of the net.
West Brom began the second half with fresh impetus and were unlucky when new loan signing Carlos Vela picked out Marek Cech but the Slovakian sent his effort wide.
Latics replied almost immediately but Rodallega blasted his shot over the bar after picking up a loose ball following Myhill’s save from Di Santo.
West Brom picked up the tempo and Thomas went close with a curling effort that narrowily over the bar.
Myhill thwarted the lively N’Zogbia with his legs before West Brom were twice denied by the woodwork with substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune and Chris Brunt both finding the post with their efforts.
However repeated pressure paid off in the 79th minute for Albion when Fortune powered home a header from a Thomas centre.
The French striker must love playing against Wigan having twice scored against them at The Hawthorns two seasons ago whilst on loan from Nancy.
Wigan were now in danger of losing this game with their hosts now boasting added confidence and Al Habsi had to be at his best to keep out Olsson’s header from a Brunt cross.
Wigan may feel slightly fortunate not to have conceded a penalty in the final moments of normal time when Gary Caldwell sliced his attempted clearance from the area up in the air and appeared to catch his arm on the way.
Steven Caldwell and Steve Gohouri both received cautions for time wasting during the five minutes of time added by Dowd as Wigan seemed to be clinging on to the point.
A victory and all three points would have lifted Wigan out of the bottom three but the draw sees them still very much in the relegation zone and with some tough games on the horizon the outlook is looking a little bit bleak – but you never know in this game.