Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Wigan 2 Stoke 0

This is only the second time that Wigan have secured back-to-back victories under Roberto Martínez. The last time it happened? Stoke were also the victims – and it sealed Wigan’s Premier League survival last season.

Martínez’s side still have some work to do in this campaign, but this was a highly significant victory in the context of relegation issues – particularly with QPR and Bolton also winning – and added credence to the feeling that Wigan can save themselves once more.

The Wigan manager knew the importance of the three points, saying: “At the bottom, everyone will be fighting until the end. I don’t think there is a bad team in this division.”

Just like their team’s playing style, Wigan’s supporters have been patient this season. And, finally, they have a home victory to celebrate for the first time since August.

Antolin Alcaraz’s second-half header and Victor Moses’s late, breakaway strike sealed this deserved win as they outplayed Stoke, but there was a considerable amount of suffering on the way to full-time. They had to endure watching two of the worst misses of the season from Jean Beausejour, who squandered close-range chances. And, before the first goal, there was a penalty for handball turned down – which should have been given – against Dean Whitehead.

But ultimately none of that mattered as Wigan ended a 13-game winless sequence here, adding to the feel-good factor generated by their win at Liverpool last weekend.

Tactically, this was a noteworthy triumph for manager Martínez. He stayed faithful to their wing-backs system, despite facing a Stoke side notorious for their directness, and it worked in starving the visitors of openings from wide areas.

Wigan’s aggressive irritating of Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington meant Stoke were kept quiet on the flanks as the game went on. Both men were substituted by the 65th minute.

The Premier League is a better place for having Martínez in it. Lacking in ego – and admirably principled in terms of his passing football philosophy – Wigan should feel in safe hands. He knows how to organise a defence too. “I was really pleased with the manner we defended,” admitted Martínez. “Defensively, as a team, we were outstanding. It’s the easiest game our goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi has had all season.”

The first of Beausejour’s misses occurred when Moses crossed low from the right, presenting him with a simple chance in front of an open goal.

Rather than finish, he mis-hit and the ball looped up in the air and missed the target.

More frustration for Wigan came just after half-time as Maloney’s shot went on to hit Whitehead on the arm, but no penalty was awarded by referee Mark Clattenburg.

Wigan’s mood was about to change as they scored. Beausejour sent in a pinpoint cross from the left that was met by a firm 10-yard header from Alcaraz.

The home side were dominant and should have gone further ahead in the 72nd minute when Beausejour produced his second dreadful miss. Ben Watson had sent a deep free kick from the right and Beausejour, unmarked at the back post, miscued again.

Wigan nerves were finally settled when Moses raced clear on the counter-attack, found himself one-on-one with Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and evaded him before finishing.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis said: “We tried to be positive – and put three forwards on later on – but even that didn’t work. Wigan were the better team.”

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