Wigan get the bounce but not the bounty
Wigan Athletic 1 Everton 1: Neville's bizarre own goal puts Latics in sight of a precious win but Anichebe earns Everton a point
The DW Stadium
Sunday 05 February 2012
The game will be remembered for the freak own goal that will make Tim Howard a star of comedy football DVDs for years to come, as he was defeated by a bounce that would be more appropriate in a Wigan Warriors match than an Athletic one.
Both sides seemed intent on proving why their "goals for" columns are so low, as neither really tested the opposition goalkeeper in the 90 minutes. Phil Neville's unfortunate own goal was cancelled out by substitute Victor Anichebe's header moments after coming on to ensure the points were shared in a turgid game in similar cold conditions.
Roberto Martinez was happy to see some fortune come Wigan's way, as they collected their first point of 2012: "We had the sort of luck today which we've lacked this season," said the Wigan manager. "We dominated the game, which pleases me after the last two games where we didn't perform for 90 minutes."
Having lost their previous five matches, Wigan tried to turn their survival fight around by starting at a high tempo, pushing the visitors on to the back foot. They almost took the lead in the seventh minute but Jordi Gomez's cross into the six-yard box, following good interplay with new signing Jean Beausejour, was cleared by Sylvain Distin.
Martinez may have been rueing not signing a striker in the transfer window, when his focal forward, Franco Di Santo, outmuscled Distin to retrieve Maynor Figueroa's long pass, only to shoot tamely at Tim Howard, with only the whole goal to aim at.
Beausejour's speed down the left flank repeatedly meant Tony Hibbert was forced to chase the winger in vain. The Chilean's crosses were never able to find one of his new team-mates, but his lively home debut will give hope to the Wigan fans.
Both managers were in need of an injection of quality, and on the hour mark, David Moyes gave a debut to £5 million signing Nikica Jelavic. The former Rangers forward added more movement and superior technique compared with Denis Stracqualursi, who caused more problems to the Everton kitman trying to fit his name on to his shirt than the Wigan defence.
It is not only English batsmen who are struggling with spin at the moment, as Everton's Howard was deceived by a leg-break which found its way into the back of the net with 15 minutes left. The impressive Beausejour drilled a low cross into the box which flicked off Neville's boot. Despite the deflection it was heading into the American's arms before hitting the turf and beating him.
Only a minute after entering the fray, Anichebe leapt above David Jones to flick Leighton Baines' inswinging cross beyond a helpless Ali Al-Habsi to maintain Everton's record of scoring one goal in each of their last four League games, to set up a frenetic last 10 minutes, which failed to produce a chance for either side.
Moyes said his side were feeling the effects of their triumph over Manchester City: "The lads' midweek effort, physically and mentally, took something out of us," said the Everton manager. "It was the same for them, but we never had that spark today."
Wigan (3-4-3): Al-Habsi, Caldwell, Boyce, Figueroa, Stam (Jones, 64), McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour, Moses, Gomez (Rodallega, 64), Di Santo (Crusat, 69)
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard, Hibbert (Anichebe, 81), Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Donovan, Gibson, Fellaini, Pienaar, Cahill (Neville, 46), Stracqualursi (Jelavic, 60)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Beausejour (Wigan)
Match rating: 4/10
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