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Match Report: Stoke City 2-2 Wigan Athletic

A Jekyll and Hyde performance from our Latics yesterday evening, yet at a ground where under Martinez we have yet to lose, we continued that form by pulling back a 2-0 deficit to a 2-2 draw. A first half where the team where dire, before a second half where they stepped up and showed what they can do.

Alex Livesey

Roberto Martinez made two changes from the team that lost 3-2 to Sunderland in the last Premier League game, Roger Espinoza and Roman Golobart both having done enough to get into the team and both impressed in their full debuts for the club in the Premier League. Stoke went to match the Latics playing in a similar 3-5-2 formation to try and hold our style of football.

It was Stoke though who arguably started the better of the two teams. Getting the ball down in their style and looking to force the issue on the Wogan defence. The first major chance came for the home side, Wigan building the attack before losing the ball. Wigan back three under pressure. Yet Jonathan Waters decided to have a long range effort, blasting the ball high and wide.

Wigan were getting into the game, and when on the ball kept it, before then losing it in the final third. Not really the controlled football that Martinez likes to see of his side.

The highlight of the early exchanges was injuries to Franco Di Santo and Robert Huth, where the ball was flicked up off a Wigan player. Both went in challenging for the ball, before clashing heads. Both players would recieve treatment and eventually have their heads bandaged.

In the end it would be the homeside taking the lead. Roger Espionza going up for a header with Peter Crouch, the Honduran fouling the former England international. The ball was then played in by Charlie Adam, the ball was poor and Jean Beasejour attempted to clear it with a header. The ball then hit the back of James McCarthy's head, bouncing into the path of Ryan Shawcross who volleyed the ball into the net. Gary Caldwell could have done better to follow his marker.

Once the goal went in Wigan lived up a bit more. The Latics playing their football, getting it down on the deck and passing it around. Yet their was nothing in the final third to really force the issue on the Stoke City defence. But neither could Stoke really force the issue on the Wigan back three, when they did it was the long ball into the box, most likely from a free-kick.

Jean Beausejour the man who produced a couple of spectacular crosses in the first half, which if a Latics player had been on the end of, the effort would have been a goal. The first was fired in well, and James McArthur only able to get onto the ball at a stretch. The second a lovely fizzed ball which saw Asmir Begovic at full stretch to block the cross before a Stoke defender cleared it.

1-0 at half time, and it was hard to see that Stoke deserved it. They had been the more successful attacking team, why they were 1-0 up, yet Wigan had seen more of the ball and looked more threatening when they had it in their possession.

The second half started though started worse than most Wigan fans would have imagined. Even though they started brightly and were getting on the ball in Stoke final third. Roger Ezpionsa in the box looking to lay it off, before being brought down and Stoke broke on the Latics defence. Charlie Adam charging down the middle of the pitch, keeps going and shoots from 20 yards out.

The shot was too much and Ali Al Habsi parries the ball out straight into path of Peter Crouch who taps home. 2-0 and had Maynor Figueroa been following his man (Crouch) the goal wouldn't have done in.

Yet Latics reacted as quick as they could. A lovely passing move from the boys in blue. Jean Beausejour with the thrown in found James McCarthy, who feeds the ball to Franco Di Santo chesting the ball down to a waiting Roger Espionza who played a lovely ball through heart of Stoke defence to set James McArthur through on goal. The Scotland international using the outside of his foot to curl the ball home off the post and get Wigan back into the game.

The next ten minutes saw Stoke try to get back in front. Forcing the Wigan defence into some mistakes giving away free-kicks. One such free-kick saw Charlie Adam go close from about 25-yards out. But then a free-kick to Wigan on the edge of our own box sparked the Latics drawing level.

Quickly taken by the captain Gary Caldwell who passed it off to Shaun Maloney. The ball went wide to Beausejour who worked some space for Espionza in the middle. The midfielder finding McArthur at the back post who headed the ball back across the box for Di Santo to volley home 2-2 and the game was all Wigan now.

This was the Wigan of last season now, confident even arrogant on the ball so calm and totally in control. It was no surprise the home supporters started to boo their players as the ball was just passed from black shirt to black shirt as Wigan looked to open some space.

That though unfortunately Wigan couldn't do. We couldn't find that last ball, Ronnie Stam putting in a couple of lovely crosses in the last ten minutes of the match, yet none was on the end of the ball to get a connection to send the ball home.

That was the problem late on when Shaun Maloney crossed the ball finding Di Santo in the box. Yet the Argentinian striker couldn't guide the ball into the goal as the game closed out 2-2 with Wigan the team that looked more likely to score the winner, even with some late pressure from Stoke.