Date: Tuesday 29th April 2014
Venue: St. Andrews
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Wigan Athletic finally secured their place in the Championship play-offs with a nervy win over relegation threatened Birmingham City.
It has been a tough few weeks for the Latics and they headed to Birmingham on the back of two defeats at the hands of Burnley and Blackpool, having not played at all well in either game.
But Wigan started brightly on this occasion and were ahead within three minutes as Jordi Gomez was given acres of space to run into in the middle of the park. He managed to play a pass to Callum McManaman on the edge of the box, who drove into the box and curled a shot into the bottom corner of the Birmingham net. A dream start.
This was to be the peak of the Latics’ performance as they defended well and kept Birmingham out for eighty-seven minutes.
Shortly after, it looked as though Wigan were 2-0 up as Martyn Waghorn back-heeled the ball into an empty Birmingham net. However, the referee gave a free-kick for a foul on keeper, Darren Randolph. What was little more than a shoulder barge from Waghorn was punished and meant that the score stayed at 1-0 to the Latics.
In the second half, Birmingham pushed up on Wigan in search of the goal that would see them jump out of the bottom three.
They put on the huge Nikola Zigic who was supposed to cause Wigan keeper, Scott Carson problems. Wigan, and in particular Gary Caldwell, defended brilliantly, with Carson making some unbelievable stops.
A header from Zigic from six yards out was dealt with by the former England number one before he came to the rescue twice more in a finish that was filled with Birmingham pressure.
Federico Macheda looked certain to score but Carson deflected his shot away for a corner before desperately clinging onto a shot from Hayden Mullins to see that Wigan secured their play-off spot.
It is slightly worrying that the Latics have not been playing well these past few weeks but they have done the job required of them. And now, anything is possible. Another Wembley trip? A ninth season in the premier league?