Cardiff City 1 Wigan Athletic 2 match report: Ben Watson gives Wigan scent of Wembley

FA Cup holders take another Premier League scalp with winner coming from familiar source

Cardiff City Stadium

It is not given to many managers to take over an FA Cup-winning team and Uwe Rösler is clearly determined to make the most of it. Having spent the whole 90 minutes in the technical area yesterday, cajoling his players and adjusting the tactics, he celebrated the final whistle and a deserved victory by clenching a jubilant fist towards the directors box and then rushed onto the pitch to congratulate every one of his team.

There was also, of course, a polite handshake for the beaten manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who may now be regretting having recommended the German to the owner of Brentford, where he did an excellent job before stepping up as replacement for Roberto Martinez last summer.

Rösler may have come late to the party but he has enjoyed it enormously in knocking out Milton Keynes Dons, Crystal Palace and now Cardiff. Whether the latter pair count as giants this season may be debatable, but they are of superior league status and the Championship side have slain them.

 

Yesterday, there was another winning goal from Ben Watson, the ginger midfielder who came on as a late substitute at Wembley last May to crush Manchester City. Here he drove in a superb 25-yard free-kick after Fraizer Campbell had brought Cardiff level and prompted their one convincing spell of the game.

Watson was one of five Cup-winners starting the game for the visitors, who made light of the absence of influential midfielders James McArthur and Nicky Powell. Rösler had started with last season’s three men at the back but was flexible enough to move to 4-2-3-1 later and his players worked tirelessly, closing down the Premier League side all over the pitch.

“I was very happy with the performance and the application,” their manager said. “We have had the hardest match programme in the country since last August but my players have shown fantastic qualities, and the willpower to come through games.” Because of the Europa League programme, this was Wigan’s 41st match of the season.

Rösler promised to attack and the holders did so from early on in a tie of changing fortunes that produced three goals and several changes of momentum even before the interval. Wigan were ahead in the 18th minute when Jordi Gomez, one of the Wembley survivors, won the ball back, took it to the byline and crossed to give Chris McCann – nominally one of the three centre-backs – a tap-in.

The visitors were the better side at that point but they were pegged back eight minutes later after some poor defending. Wilfried Zaha was crowded out as he tried to wriggle through and there were sufficient defenders in attendance to have cleared before Campbell drove a low shot past a possibly unsighted Ali Al Habsi for his eighth goal of the season and third in the Cup.

That got Cardiff going and a good combination between the impressive Norwegian Mats Daehli – one of three debutants – and Zaha led to Campbell heading the latter’s cross just too high. By half-time, however, Wigan were back in front, following a foul by the Spanish defender Juan Cala on Marc-Antoine Fortuné. Gomez touched the free-kick to Watson, whose 25-yarder flew past Cardiff’s poor imitation of a wall.

Cala headed against a post just before the interval but with Rösler moving to a conventional back-four, Cardiff found it hard to  make further chances until the final 10 minutes, when central defenders Cala and Steven Caulker were sent into attack. Daehli had one shot deflected over the bar, and Zaha’s effort was beaten out by Al Habsi, who then saved well from substitute Craig Noone.

Home matches against Hull and Fulham look more crucial than ever if Cardiff are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship. “There’s talent here and we’ve got to go out and play with no fear,” Solskjaer urged those who may be losing faith.

Line-ups:

Cardiff City (4-1-3-2): Marshall; Theophile-Catherine, Cala, Caulker, Taylor; Medel (Cowie, h-t); Daehli, Eikrem (Kim, 77) Zaha; Berget (Noone, 60) Campbell.

Wigan Athletic (3-4-1-2): Al-Habsi; Boyce, Ramis, McCann; Perch, Watson (McEachran, 57), Espinoza, Beausejour; Gomez (Crainey, 77); McManaman (McClean, 66), Fortuné.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Man of the match: Daehli (Cardiff City)

Match rating: 7/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee