Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Stoke 2 Wigan 2

Expectations were not great of a riveting contest at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday but like the recent television version of the Dickens classic, this transpired to be one of the most entertaining attractions of the holiday period.

Sadly there was no happy ending for Wigan Athletic, who despite a late penalty equaliser, finished the game with 10 men, one point and seeing out 2011 in the bottom three, where they had ended the first week of the year.

In a compelling match, the introduction of substitute Cameron Jerome seemed pivotal for Stoke City but Wigan’s own later replacement proved the most dramatic as Ben Watson converted an 87th-minute penalty, an emphatic first touch that sent goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen the wrong way.

“Ben Watson is one of the best technical players in English football and that’s his forte,” said Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who insisted he had no hesitation in his American Football-style substitution. “He has missed his last two penalties but he is a real cool character and a specialist.”

Watson’s spectacular entrance occurred when Ryan Shotton appeared to tug Hugo Rodallega’s shirt and, after booking the Stoke defender, referee Mick Oliver pointed to the spot for the second time of the afternoon.

The first came when Stephen Caldwell’s hand patted away Jerome’s goal-bound header, another first touch for a substitute. The Wigan captain was sent off and as Jonathan Walters scored, Stoke’s revival was gaining momentum.

Rodallega might have opened the scoring early on, Ryan Shawcross heading clear with Sorensen stranded. The Colombian was more clinical in a flowing Wigan move as half time approached, his low right-wing centre reaching Victor Moses who eluded Andy Wilkinson at the near post to finish for his second goal of the season.

Jerome’s first league goal for Stoke finally overturned that lead, the former Birmingham forward angling a fine shot across Ali Al-Habsi for 2-1 and a seemingly easy victory. Watson’s assured right foot changed that. An unexpected twist in the tale. Dickensian on every level.

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