We won? Sorry did I hear that right? Wigan managed to dig out a result even when we weren’t the best side. What were the players on? Something clicked in the players today, and we managed to dig in and get the all important goals that won the game.
It is all smiles now back in Wigan. Even though it may only be for the next week till we face a run of matches which will be really crucial. Getting three points today was so so important, it will and has given every single person involved with the club a lift.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Wigan, it never is but who cares we got three points. But it started with our most reliable of players, Ali Al Habsi making a mistake inside the first eight minutes. A strike on the edge of the box by Nicklas Bendtner was spilled by the Omani. He was quick to bounce on the rebound blocking Kieran Richardson, but it fell to Sebastian Larsson who slotted away to put Sunderland into the lead.
Oh dear, it looked like it was all going to happen again.
On came the Sunderland onslaught, and didn’t it pour. Yet Ali made up for himself making not one, not two but five world class saves and more. He kept us in the game, for most of the first half.
First a strike at his near post from Richardson saved and pushed away from a corner. The resulting corner saw Wes Brown get on the end of it, and from point blank range Al Habsi denied the form Manchester United player a goal.
Larsson came close from a free-kick midway through the half, and which he followed up only minutes later with a whipped in ball, which was met by John O’Shea and again scrambled away by Ali Al Habsi. Sunderland really deserved to be leading by more, and it would cost them. Last ten minutes of the half, and Wigan were getting more possession. Yet we were really unable to press the issue, and Kieron Westwood had relatively nothing to do for most of the half, until stoppage time.
Victor Moses danced into the box, and skipped across Sebastian Larsson and went down under the Swedes challenge. Now I’m not suggesting that Moses dived, but it was very little contact that caused the winger to fall over. But as we know from the week previous, ‘these things happen in football’.
So penalty to Wigan, in first half stoppage time, this could be the way back into the game. Jordi Gomez stepped up to take the kick. Thousand of Latics fan’s help their breathe, as Gomez slotted the ball home to draw Wigan level going into the half time break.
The second half was a much more different prospect in play. Yet neither team would bring it alight. Wigan looked a bit slow and sluggish like they wanted the point and to go home. While Sunderland looked like the penalty had taken the wind out of their sails.
We started to get a foot on the ball, and slowly started to get into a stride as the half kept up. As we looked more like the side we have been waiting to see all season, Sunderland began to get jumpy. Connor Sammon only inches wide from connecting with a low cross from Ronnie Stam.
Yet Sunderland’s Kieran Richardson would have three chances to win the game. The first was a softly curled ball, which tamely rolled into the keepers grasp. The second was so nearly a goal, yet again Ali doing his best to keep Wigan in the game, after Richardson crept round the back, before placing his header wide.
In the dying embers of the game on comes Franco Di Santo the leading scorer with three goals for Latics. As Sunderland threw men more and more forward, we held well defensively, and managed to get the goal we need late on.
James McArthur taking the ball of the toe of Wes Brown and playing in Franco Di Santo who made no mistake from five yards out to give Wigan the lead, and that is all it would take for the points to head back to Lancashire.
It has been a frustrating week, after we were so so unlucky not to beat Blackburn. Having seen two mistakes by the officials, one leading to a Blackburn goal and one not giving a Wigan penalty, the three points today help us to build some momentum.
It’s going to be crucial that we continue to keep going and fighting hard for each other as a team. The next run of fixtures see us face Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all at home, then on Boxing Day an away day trip to Manchester United, do you get much harder than that? But the lads have the fight back, and we are united. Let’s keep the faith, and keep the passion.