Match Report: Mauricio Pochettino misses the points after Shaun Maloney saves Wigan Athletic with last-minute strike against Southampton
Wigan Athletic 2 Southampton 2
the dw stadium
Sunday 03 February 2013
Mauricio Pochettino might reflect after his first three matches in charge of Southampton that there is nothing more misleading than results. The Argentinian, installed controversially in place of the revered Nigel Adkins, has added only two points so far to his predecessor's tally where even neutral observers would concede it should have been seven.
He was unlucky to take no better than a 0-0 draw from his debut game against Everton and deserved a point from the defeat at Manchester United, after which Sir Alex Ferguson said the Saints were the best visiting team at Old Trafford this season.
Yesterday they out-ran and outpassed Wigan yet still managed to leave Pochettino looking for his first win. Then again, after doing all the hard work to get in front after Wigan had taken a first-half lead they can blame themselves for conceding a last-minute equaliser through the same kind of inattentiveness of which the home side had been guilty earlier.
Just as Wigan, understandably nervous after a run of poor results that now stretches to one win in 12 matches, had taken their eye off Morgan Schneiderlin at the wrong moment when Southampton went in front, they failed to notice the stealthy late movement that enabled Shaun Maloney to score an equaliser at Wigan's final corner.
"We played a great game and deserved to win but we have to work hard at defending from set-pieces," said Pochettino, reflecting that both Wigan goals had stemmed from corners.
But he agreed that his new side might have had two wins from three matches had fortune favoured them more in what has so far been a seamless transition from one manager to another. "Sometimes in football you are going to have bad luck but you have to look to make your own luck," he said. "We will go on working hard."
Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, conceded his side need to work harder at knowing what to do if they take the lead. They have gone behind in 16 of their matches so far this season, which is an extraordinary statistic that clearly has had a major bearing on where they are in the league table.
When their captain, Gary Caldwell, lost his marker to head Wigan in front from a 25th-minute corner, their self-assurance deserted them. "Sometimes, it is easier to go behind," said Martinez. "When you are in front you can have the feeling that you have something to lose and that can make it harder for you to play your game and we certainly did not play as well as we wanted to.
"But you must give credit to Southampton. They built up some momentum and, in the end, we have to be relieved to get a point. I was pleased that we showed the character and the desire to get a positive result."
Indeed, Southampton had been the better side for long stretches. Artur Boruc made a fine save early on to deny Franco Di Santo but thereafter the traffic was largely in the other direction and it was only Wigan's willingness to put bodies in the way of the ball that limited the need for Ali Al-Habsi to get involved, although the goalkeeper did earn his corn when James McCarthy's clearance rebounded off Schneiderlin and almost crept in under the bar.
Southampton drew level with a brave header from their hard-working forward, Rickie Lambert, after 64 minutes and went ahead when the equally industrious Jay Rodriguez made a run to the by-line and pulled the ball back for an unmarked Schneiderlin to pop up in the box with what should have been the winner.
It would have been, but when Paul Scharner, who is back for a second spell with Wigan on loan from Hamburg, headed Jean Beausejour's corner across goal in the 90th minute, Maloney slipped in behind the Saints defence to stab the ball home.
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