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Maloney saves the day for nervy Wigan

Sunday, 3 February 2013 - 4:03pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph

This was a curious match with a result that failed to satisfy either manager. Wigan, who equalised in the last minute through Shaun Maloney, were fortunate to register a draw.

This was a curious match with a result that failed to satisfy either manager. Wigan, who equalised in the last minute through Shaun Maloney, were fortunate to register a draw.

It was their poorest performance at the DW Stadium all season, but Roberto Martinez insisted it was a point gained. He admitted, though, that his team did not display their usual passing fluency, especially after taking a lead into half-time courtesy of Gary Caldwell's header.

"It felt like we had something to lose rather than something to gain," Martinez said. "I've never seen our crowd as frustrated or as worried as they were today."

The concern in the stands was palpable but evident for a good reason. In the second half particularly, Southampton were everything that Wigan were not: rapid, penetrative and confident. Arguably, the visitors should have seven points from Mauricio Pochettino's first three games in charge, including a win here. Instead, they only have two. In total this season, Southampton have now surrendered 24 points from winning positions.

"I'm frustrated because the team has played a great match," Pochettino said. "With the effort the team has given, we deserved to win."

Martinez spoke of his team's "character" to recover and Pochettino reflected on a lack of fortune at crucial times but the reality is that Wigan only seem able to gain significant results when they are not expected to do so, while Southampton conceded both of their goals from corners.

The nagging criticism of Wigan, indeed, has been their inclination to conclude games with virility but not begin them with the same quality. Previously, no club in the top flight had conceded the first goal of the game on more occasions than Martinez's side.

Here, instead, the pattern was reversed. Wigan's opener was a worrying goal from the visitors' perspective as Caldwell easily found a way to evade the marking of Maya Yoshida to connect with Jean Beausejour's corner. Earlier, Artur Boruc had to be at his very best to deny Franco Di Santo when the Argentine's studs connected with another Beausejour's cross. Such was the clout of Caldwell's connection on this occasion, however, that the goalkeeper had no chance.

At the break, a dead leg sustained by Gaston Ramirez meant the Uruguayan was replaced by Steven Davis. With Jay Rodriguez pushed up front alongside Rickie Lambert, the dynamic shifted in Southampton's favour and the equaliser came when Rodriguez showed more determination than Caldwell to meet Jack Cork's cross and Lambert reached the ball before Ali Al-Habsi.

After substitute Adam Lallana hit a post, it seemed that Southampton had won when Morgan Schneiderlin finished off Rodriguez's darting run and pass. But in the 89th minute, Wigan stole an unlikely point when Maloney reacted first to Paul Scharner's header after another Beausejour delivery.

"Football can be cruel," Pochettino concluded.

Wigan (3-5-1-1): Al-Habsi, Scharner, Caldwell, Figueroa; Stam (Gomez 56), McArthur, McCarthy (Henriquez 90), Espinoza (McManaman 75), Beausejour; Maloney, Di Santo. Subs: Robles, Golobart, Campabadal, Jones.

Southampton (4-2-3-1): Boruc; Clyne (Lallana 60), Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin; Puncheon (Ward-Prowse 81), Ramirez (S Davis h-t), Rodriguez; Lambert. Subs: K Davis, Fox, Richardson Lee. Booked: Rodriguez, Cork.

Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).


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