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Stoke City 2-2 Wigan Athletic

Ali Al Habsi celebrates another well earned point for Wigan Athletic
Ali Al Habsi celebrates another well earned point for Wigan Athletic

Games at the time of year tend to be big scoring affairs, and the game at the Britannia didn't disappoint. For our last game of 2011 Wigan went at it, and really probably deserved more than just a point. But at the end of the day, going to Stoke and getting a result is something that few clubs do.

The reprieved Conor Sammon was not played and instead Hugo Rodallega made a return to the starting line up, his first since September. Hugo did show some of those sparks that in the past have made him one of our key players. The hope now his to get him to sign a new contract.

The first half was a mixed affair both teams having a fair amount of possession between them and really. Stoke could have got the better of Wigan early on, but our new rebuffed defence did well to hold out, and for most of the first half the chances fell Wigan's way.

Thomas Sorrenson in the way to denied Jordi Gomez twice from long range, both efforts were curling into the corners and the veteran keeper did well to beat the ball away. Rodallega having the best of the rest, with a flimsy lob over Sorrenson which was cleared before away by the Stoke defence.

Down at the other end Ali Al Habsi was not being stretched. Peter Crouch delievered up some attempts on goal. I decent volley from six yards out, but he could only find the keepers midriff, before earlier a free header had been steered inches wide of the post.

The deadlock was broken though just before half time, Victor Moses scoring his second goal of the season. Rodallega playing a brilliant low cross, before the twenty year old sided footed the ball into the near post. Silencing the home fans, and Wigan were looking good for their lead.

As the second half dragged on Wigan started to get more and more in control of the ball. After a dire first few minutes where Peter Crouch could have levelled for Stoke and his header been a better. The home crowd where getting restless and so where the Stoke players. Only a stupid mistake by a Wigan player could lose this one.

Thank you Gary Caldwell. Who for the second game in three handled the ball in the box. This time he was sent off.

There was no denning it. A goal bound header from Crouch was clearly cleared away by the outstretched hand of our Scottish defender. Up stepped Jon Walters to slam the ball into the bottom corner to level the game and make it a tense last ten for Wigan Athletic.

The game went all one way now. Stoke playing how they do best fast and quick on the wing and hitting the ball into the box, and eventally one of these moves paid off. Peter Crouch's header again causing problems; fell to Jon Walters to poke Cameron Jerome through for Stoke to take the lead.

All Wigan's hard work had been undone in the space of seven minutes.

The game was surely all over now. No way Wigan would get back into the game with five minutes to go and down to ten men. It was impossible, yet our lads don't seem to say die.

Rodallega running in behind the Stoke defence was brought down by Ryan Shotton, penalty for Wigan with four minutes of normal time remaining. Top penalty taker Ben Watson was quickly brought on, and smashed the ball low and hard to level the game. Unbelievable final ten minutes.

Five minutes of adding time to come and Stoke had all of the ball. Playing how they do best long ball into the box and hope for a goal. And Wigan were lucky, heavy touches and wayward shots prevent Stoke getting the late winner. As the blues held out for a well deserved point.

It could have been so much more. Yet a point is a very good result considering we went down to ten players and were up against a side who wanted the win.

The performance mirrored that of many we have had recently. Good on the ball, and now starting to take some chances, an inform Hugo Rodallega would be the icing on what looks like a good 2012 to come.