Tuncay sparks Stoke's stirring fightback

Wigan Athletic 1 Stoke City 1
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The Independent Football

Honours finished even at the DW Stadium last night, which represented an approximate sort of justice. Wigan took the lead through Paul Scharner in a stilted first half which they dominated, but lost the initiative after the break as Stoke equalised through Tuncay Sanli and could easily have snatched a winner.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was delighted. "We were a bit sloppy in the first half but towards the end we took the game to Wigan," he said.

The Potters early ammunition came in the form of a couple of corners and Rory Delap's familiar and prodigious throw-ins, but it was another variety of set-piece that dominated the action in the first half. Wigan's first attack saw Ryan Shawcross booked for cynically bringing down Hugo Rodallega to yield a free-kick in a dangerous spot.

Rodallega thundered this one into the defensive wall and Charles N'Zogbia put one over the bar soon afterwards. After only 14 minutes, however, another foul gave the Latics their breakthrough. This kick was further out, but N'Zogbia flighted it in and Paul Scharner rose clear of the crowd to head home powerfully for his fourth goal of the season. The first half ended with Robert Huth booked for a foul on Rodallega and Stoke under pressure from the dead ball again.

Rodallega's overhead kick from an impossible angle after the break nearly embarrassed Thomas Sorensen by sneaking under his crossbar. After 74 minutes, Stoke were level. Gary Caldwell cleared from his own goalmouth, but only as far as Matthew Etherington lurking unmarked out to the right. His cross was precision itself and Tuncay rose unchallenged to head in.

The damage could have been worse for Wigan, with Mamady Sidibe heading another penetrating cross onto the post two minutes later. In the last minute James Beattie forced a fine save from Chris Kirkland as City finished the stronger.

Pulis offered his support for Ricardo Fuller after a recent brush with the law. "We are hoping that the laddie will come forward and drop the charges so Ric can get on with playing football."

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Boyce, Caldwell, Bramble, Figueroa; N'Zogbia, Scharner, Diame (Moreno, 81), McCarthy (Thomas, 54); Scotland (Gomez, 60), Rodallega. Substitutes not used: Stojkovic (gk), Melchiot, Moses, Sinclair.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Higginbotham; Whitehead, Delap (Fuller, 60), Whelan, Etherington; Sidibe (Beattie, 88), Tuncay (Lawrence, 88). Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Collins, Pugh, Diao.

Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).

Booked: Wigan Athletic Caldwell, Rodallega; Stoke City Huth, Shawcross, Etherington.

Man of the match: Etherington.

Attendance: 16,033.