Wigan Athletic 2 Crystal Palace 1 match report: James McClean stars as the holders shock Palace

McClean landed his first goal since his summer move to Wigan to send last year's winners into the draw for the fifth round

DW Stadium

It was easy to forget as the rain sluiced down over an ordinary game in a stadium almost two thirds empty that Wigan are the holders of the FA Cup.

Their triumph at Wembley may have been one of the most romantic days in the competition‘s history, achingly bittersweet because of the relegation that followed, but they do not seem to have profited overmuch from it.

Their Europa League campaign brought them nothing more glamorous than a trip to the Urals and they have gone through two managers since Roberto Martinez posed with the trophy. One end of the stadium was entirely deserted and, although this gave the Wigan chairman the sight of his initials that dominate the empty seating, it would not have done much for Dave Whelan’s bank balance. His pride, however, is intact.

“If we get a good draw, who knows how far we can go?” The Wigan manager, Uwe Rösler, reflected after the match. “It is the best cup competition in the world. I enjoyed it when I was at Brentford and I will enjoy it now.”

It is one thing to win the FA Cup in improbable circumstances, it is quite another to defend it. In the FA Cup’s golden age, three clubs attempted to retain the trophy from the old Second Division. Sunderland and West Ham did not get past the third round in 1974 and 1981, although Southampton reached the fifth round in 1977 where they met Manchester United, the team they had humbled at Wembley the year before. Sergio Aguero’s heroics at the Etihad ensured that scenario is still available to Wigan and Manchester City.

However, just as even the Grand National feels empty when a horse is shot, so Wigan’s continued, dogged defence of their trophy was overshadowed by a dreadful-looking injury to Jonathan Parr.

Crystal Palace’s left back was taken to hospital after a collision with Callum McManaman that saw the 25-year-old Norwegian international taken off on a stretcher unconscious and with an oxygen mask over his face.

The fact that he collided with McManaman would revive memories of the midfielder’s abysmally-executed tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haïdara last year, although this incident, when both went up for a high ball, looked less clear cut.

“He is in hospital now,” said the Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis. “We have looked at the incident from another angle and it seems the lad [McManaman] has caught him. We think it is the impact of the collision rather than the landing that has caused the injury, although I don’t know yet whether it’s his neck or jaw.”

Palace never quite matched the rhythm of the bass drum that had accompanied around 1,000 of their supporters from south London. Nevertheless, although Pulis would not have welcomed a replay hampering his salvage operation at Selhurst Park, he smiled when asked if Palace should have been awarded a penalty when Emmerson Boyce appeared to pull back Dwight Gale when the striker was through on goal.

However, the double substitution Pulis made, replacing both his strikers, Cameron Jerome and Marouane Chamakh, threatened to turn the tie as Gayle and Aaron Wilbraham combined to stab home a corner and level the game.

But it was then taken from them by James McClean, who having made the first for Ben Watson, picked up a beautifully-timed pass from Roger Espinoza, ran with it and finished superbly. His career may have been overshadowed by a refusal to wear a poppy while at Sunderland – McClean is from the Catholic Creggan Estate in Derry – that lead to death threats but his talent is obvious.

It shone through when Wigan took the lead with a sprint and a cut-back that Watson, a one-time Palace trainee, finished off with a drive beyond Julian Speroni. Watson, whose header had secured the Cup to Wigan, was one of five survivors from the team that had beaten Manchester City. It had rained then and it rained now.

Wigan Athletic (4-2-3-1): Al Habsi; Perch, Boyce, Barnett, Beausejour; McArthur (McCann, 80), Watson; McManaman (Fortune, 74), Espinoza, McClean; Maynard (Powell, 74).

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Mariappa, McCarthy, Delaney, Parr (Moxey, h-t); Bannan. Guedioura, O’Keefe, Puncheon; Jerome (Gayle, 66), Chamakh (Wilbraham, 66).

Referee: Michael Jones

Man of the match: James McClean (Wigan)

Match rating: 7/10


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map