Match Report: Wigan start Houdini act early and leave Reading feeling vulnerable

Wigan Athletic 3 Reading 0

Wigan lifted themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone in spectacular style with a thumping win over 10-man Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

Wigan Athletic usually end the Premier League campaign with a flourish, defying the odds and narrowly preserving their elite status when all hope appeared to have been lost. This season, they seem to be launching their Houdini heroics a bit earlier, to judge by this demolition of fellow strugglers Reading.

Admittedly, Wigan were assisted by as abject a display as Reading have produced this season, which was compounded when Pavel Pogrebnyak, their Russia striker, was sent off in the second half for an ugly foul on Maynor Figueroa. Still, as an indicator of the possible outcome of their annual dice with relegation, Wigan should feel optimistic.

Victory, Wigan’s first in the league in 2013, lifted them above Reading and Aston Villa, out of the drop zone if not out of sight of their rivals. With consecutive home games against Liverpool, Newcastle United and Norwich City next month, the FA Cup quarter-finalists could creep further from danger and secure a ninth consecutive season in the top flight.

“We don’t want to be in this position, we don’t enjoy it,” Roberto Martínez, the Wigan manager, said. “But, yes, we do know what is expected in this situation and that really helps. Getting that winning feeling is very important and we now have to keep that winning feeling going. We’re still in two competitions and that’s got to be good.”

Neither side impressed initially, the early spectacle offering little to savour apart from two fine saves from Adam Federici, the Reading goalkeeper. First, he denied Franco Di Santo; then, spectacularly, he kept out an Arouna Koné drive. In between, Reading just about raised themselves from their torpor when Hope Akpan should have done better than carelessly head over a decent cross from Jem Karacan. All round, it was uninspiring stuff.

And yet, as the imminent half‑time whistle promised relief for the fans, Reading imploded. First, Jean Beausejour’s corner pinballed around the home area, Gary Caldwell nudged the ball on – with perhaps the use of a hand – Figueroa guided it towards goal and Koné chested it into the net. “Caldwell knows he handled it,” lamented the Reading manager Brian McDermott.

In stoppage time Reading again pressed the self-destruct button. Sean Morrison lost possession in midfield, Beausejour fed Koné and the Ivorian cleverly chipped the onrushing Federici. Wigan’s small band of travelling supporters could not believe their eyes. Nor could the home fans, who unleashed a chorus of boos.

So much for Reading’s unbeaten home run of five matches, from which they had garnered 11 points. Wigan smelt blood and, after the break, went straight for the jugular. Figueroa exchanged passes with Di Santo and ran on to drive the ball through the legs of Federici.

Despite Reading’s renowned powers of recovery, there would be no comeback this time – a point reinforced when Pogrebnyak, in attempting to make a challenge on Figueroa, succeeded only in crunching into the left back’s left ankle. A “forward’s tackle” it might have been but Phil Dowd, the referee, showed no mercy with a straight red card.

“It was a mistimed tackle and Pavel caught him,” McDermott said. “We had a bad day, Wigan had a good day. That was about it. But I will not change my philosophy or my belief in the players who have got us to where we are now. We’ve got 11 games left and there will be some good days in that.”

Federici spared Reading a  heavier defeat, saving smartly from Figueroa and Jordi Gómez, as the home band tried to inspire with a rendition of “The Great Escape”. Come May, it is Wigan – again – who are the more likely to perform that.

Reading (4-5-1): Federici; Kelly, Morrison, Mariappa, Harte; Kébé (Hunt, 63), Karacan (McCleary, 71), Leigertwood, Akpan (Le Fondre, 46), McAnuff; Pogrebnyak.

Wigan (4-4-2): Al Habsi; Boyce (Alcaraz, 83), Scharner, Caldwell, Figueroa; Maloney, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour; Koné, Di Santo (Gómez, 75).

Referee: Phil Dowd.

Man of the match: Figueroa (Wigan)

Match rating: 6/10.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
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

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup