Match Report: Jordi Gomez sees Wigan home after Ali Al Habsi's howler against Reading
Wigan Athletic 3 Reading 2
Amid the seasonal hullaballoo of a Premier League sack race, you might be forgiven for wondering why the managers of the teams that had occupied the 16th and 17th positions prior to this match were not being talked about as the next possible casualties in a division so highly strung on results. Roberto Martinez and Brian McDermott, both suited and both students of the game, have unenviable tasks lying ahead of them to keep their respective teams in the top flight.
They will, however, remain encouraged that their clubs' relative spending power and expectancy levels will afford them more time than handed to Mark Hughes at Queens Park Rangers.
It might end up being a 90 minutes Martinez looks back on with extreme fondness after a game that had absolutely everything: a comeback, a ridiculous own goal and a last-minute winner. More importantly, it was three points against an immediate rival and proof that Wigan can salvage matches after going a goal behind; all on the 76th birthday of the owner Dave Whelan – a man who always has faith in his manager.
"We were at our weakest today, it was a real test of character," Martinez said, relieved.
Relieved, because Sean Morrison's 35th-minute header had put Reading in the ascendancy. Ali Al Habsi could do nothing about it, but would feature heavily later. Martinez threw on his newly found talisman, Franco Di Santo, at half-time and he reignited the hosts. He teed up Jordi Gomez for an equaliser just before the hour mark, then Gomez (left) converted Jean Beausejour's cross to seemingly complete the turnaround.
But as Hal Robson-Kanu's deflected effort looped skywards, looking a comfortable take for Al Habsi, it swirled. The goalkeeper was now looking uneasy, and the ball ended up hitting his hand and head before limping over the line; a stranger goal you will not see this season.
After that slice of luck, the failure to see the game out frustrated McDermott: "I thought we were going to win it at 2-2. We have to learn to see games through and we haven't done it."
In injury time, Gomez opened up his body and beat Adam Federici in a grandstand finish to a pulsating game. It sealed his hat-trick, with Martinez critical of the club's supporters afterwards: "Nobody deserved a hat-trick more than him. The crowd were too vocal against him [earlier in the game] and I hope they realise that the only thing he does is give his life for the club."
Wigan (3-4-2-1): Al Habsi; Boyce, Ramis (Lopez, 48), Figueroa; Stam, Jones (McArthur, 83), McCarthy, Beausejour; Maloney (Di Santo, 46), Gomez; Koné.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey; McAnuff, Leigertwood, Tabb (McCleary, 73), Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre, Roberts (Pogrebnyak, 84).
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Gomez (Wigan)
Match rating: 8/10
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