Premier League - Wigan deepen Wolves gloom
Sun, 26 Dec 17:01:00 2010
First-half goals from Hugo Rodallega and Tom Cleverley ensured that Wigan brushed aside Wolves 2-1 in the Premier League at Molineux.
Rodallega opened the scoring for the Latics inside the opening ten minutes of the game. The home team failed to sufficiently clear an admittedly poor delivery from Ben Watson, and that allowed Gary Caldwell to instinctively hook the ball back into the danger area over his head. The imposing Colombian striker Rodallega peeled off his marker to collect and, despite suggestions of offside, finished with aplomb.
Just past the 20-minute mark, and things got even worse for Mick McCarthy's men. An innocuous looking throw-in was missed by the Wolves backline and that allowed Rodallega to gather the ball and quickly feed it to the on-rushing Cleverley. The on-loan midfielder ran on and expertly slotted the ball through keeper Wayne Hennessey's legs to put Wigan firmly in control of the game.
Even though substitute Steven Fletcher pulled a goal back for the home team in the dying moments of the match, Wolves' overall performance had been clearly lacking imagination and quality.
And that had been apparent right from the opening whistle, as to say it had been a sloppy start for Wolves would have been a great understatement. They were defensively naive, and looked like being carved open by Wigan's instinctive, counter-attacking football time and time again.
The saving grace for the home side appeared to be the Latics' commitment to fouls. Following another unnecessary Wigan foul, a whipped Stephen Hunt free-kick in the 12th minute was 'thighed' towards goal by Christophe Berra, but Ali Al-Habsi was there to smother the ball on his Wigan goalline.
Then, in the 35th minute, Al-Habsi produced a moment of true quality to keep Wigan's two-goal lead intact. The Wigan 'keeper managed to successfully divert away a Nenad Milijas 25 yard curling free-kick, after it took a deflection on its way to goal, with an outstretched leg.
However, the talking point of the first-half came in the 23rd minute. Hunt, who had easily looked the most impressive player for Wolves, floated in a free-kick from a central position, which Stephen Ward attempted to get something on, before appearing to be pulled down by Wigan's Steven Gohouri. In spite of the infringement, Mike Dean waved play on and the Molineux faithful bemoaned their bad luck.
Wolves did start the second half brightly and the introduction of the fit-again Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher did give them a little more attacking thrust.
However, they continued to lack the necessary quality in the final third to trouble Al-Habsi, particularly through their lone striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake who was clearly suffering the loss to injury of Kevin Doyle.
Wigan were similarly content to sit back and soak up the pressure having built up a comfortable two-goal lead.
And with Al-Habsi relatively untested in the Wigan goal for the second 45 minutes, the game came to a drab end with Fletcher's stabbed finish in the 87th minute proving to be only a slight reprieve for Wolves, who now have plenty to think about from their position at the foot of the Premier League table.
But, for Wigan and Roberto Martinez, a hugely significant three points which sees them move out of the relegation zone.