Match Report: Joke is on Aston Villa as Wigan Athletic hit three

Aston Villa 0 Wigan Athletic 3: As the fans look for a silver lining, Paul Lambert’s men concede their 15th goal in less than a week

Villa Park

The supporters of Aston Villa are surviving on gallows humour and ironic cheers. But for how long? Only three goals conceded this time.

That’s progress of sorts after shipping eight and four in the previous two games. It could have been worse for Villa. A late equaliser by Stoke’s Cameron Jerome against Southampton kept them out of the bottom three. Hooray!

Wisecracks are the flip side of despair and the boos that greeted the final whistle were a reminder that Paul Lambert (below) does not have an endless pot of goodwill with which to play. A goal down after three minutes to an uncontested Ivan Ramis header from a corner, Villa were on the back foot from the outset. An already fragile confidence drained along with the blood from youthful faces.

As Lambert observed, this was an opportunity. Chelsea and Spurs are contesting top-four status and thus defeats can be explained away to a degree. Wigan arrived here occupying a place in the relegation zone. Villa had a spell either side of half-time when they were able to apply some pressure but they were never close enough to goal to hurt Wigan. Two goals in the space of four minutes shortly before the hour from Emmerson Boyce and Aroune Koné ended all debate.

“We had a lot of endeavour but no creativity,” Lambert said. “The last three results have hurt us no doubt. But I have the belief that Aston Villa will be fine. We will see what happens in January. I understand the boos today. The fans have been brilliant, I will never criticise them. Everybody is hurting but we have to stay together. Spurs are a really good side, so are Chelsea but this was an opportunity to climb the table, especially at home.”

Villa skipper Ciaran Clark looked like he was leading out the school team, apart from the balding Stephen Ireland, who might have been a teacher. Lessons were indeed being taught by a well drilled Wigan side, who cherished the ball and moved it between each other at pace. Shaun Maloney was exceptional playing behind Franco Di Santo and Koné.

Christian Benteke had the ball in the back of the net for Villa but Andreas Weimann, with whom he played a wall pass in the box, was marginally offside. Lambert, urging his team on from the technical area, was rewarded with more of the ball as the first-half closed and on 43 minutes Brett Holman missed a golden opportunity, hitting the bar from close-range with Ali Al-Habsi helpless.

Villa started the second half the brighter but were quickly deflated when Boyce played a one-two with Koné to slide ball past Brad Guzan. Four minutes later Kone walked through the Villa defence, waltzed around Guzan and fired home. Lambert, powerless to intervene, looked utterly winded on the bench.

A treble substitution seemed worth the gamble. Ireland was selected ahead of Ashley Westwood to add experience but offered little other than casual plodding and profligacy, and duly made way. Switching to 4-4-2, Villa continued to battle. Even one goal in the context of the 15 shipped in six horrendous days would be something. 

Weimann had a chance late on, but his shot was the contribution of a player exhausted in mind and body. The ball fizzed wide, the trigger for the fans to start streaming for the exits. As the Wigan manager Roberto Martinez observed, the win was deserved and Maloney was at the heart of it. “Maloney is one of most gifted players in this league. He is a great technician, has an eye for the pass and fantastic work rate. Tactically he has gone to a different level and his performance today was taken to a whole new level.

“It is an important result. That was the first win since Reading at home in November. The results have been harsh. We started the season brightly, but had difficult moments in November and December. Performances have been consistent but we have not been getting rewards, so I was pleased today.”

Aston Villa (3-5-2): Guzan, Clark, Herd, Lowton, Lichaj (Albrighton, 64), Bannan, Ireland (El Ahmadi, 64), Holman (Bowery, 64), Benteke, Weimann.

Wigan (3-4-1-2): Al-Habsi, Figueroa, Caldwell, Ramis, Boyce, McCarthy, Jones (McArthur, 65), Beausejour (Gomez, 78), Di Santo, Koné, Maloney

Referee: Kevin Friend.

Man of the match: Maloney (Wigan).

Match rating: 7/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
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
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