Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Saturday December 12 2009
Thomas Sorensen's last minute penalty save denied Wigan from taking all 3 points away from the Britannia Stadium. A dramatic game which saw the game swing from end to end was not full of quality but drama was never far away.
Wigan took the lead after Emerson Boyce bundled in a rebound after Sorensen kept out Rodallega`s header as they dominated much of the first half. Man of the match Tuncay equalised with his first Potters goal before Maynor Figueroa scored an outrageous free-kick from inside his own half but only minutes Ryan Shawcross nodded in a corner, before Sorensen rescued the Potters with his third consecutive penalty save.
Manager Tony Pulis made two changes from the side that lost at Arsenal. Ryan Shawcross recovered from his groin injury in time to take up his place in central defence along side Abdoulaye Faye. Danny Collins surprisingly made way as Andy Wilkinson moved across to left-back. Ricardo Fuller was not surprisingly recalled but in place of Mama Sidibe so Tuncay made his home debut alongside the Jamaican.
The Potters were the quicker side out of the box as Rory Delap's throws were questioning the unstable Wigan defence. Dean Whitehead almost gave the home side the lead but his left footed volley from 20 yards trickled past the post.
Wigan then came into the game and took the lead after a quarter of an hour. A silly foul conceded by Salif Diao resulted in a dangerous free-kick for the visitors. Welshman Jason Koumas floated a perfect ball into the box where the unmarked Rodallega powered a header towards the net, but Sorensen flung up an arm and made a brilliant save. The ball unfortunately went straight up in the air and when it came back towards ground Emerson Boyce bravely headed into the net before being clattered by Sorensen.
Stoke almost hit back immediately as Ricardo Fuller headed over from a Delap throw and he missed Robert Huth`s cross by inches with the goal gaping.
Salif Diao and Dean Whitehead struggled in midfield with Diao picking up a yellow card after yet another miss-timed tackle.
However the Potters continued pressure earned them an equaliser. After Tuncay`s corner was only half cleared Shawcross flicked on a high looping ball from Sorensen towards the Turkish international. After collecting the ball he surged back towards the goal and drilled the ball under Chris Kirkland from a tight angle. Relief for the home crowd as they went in level at half-time.
The second half was full of chances as both sides could have scored at least 5 or 6. Paul Scharner should have put Athletic back in front but he glanced wide after being left unmarked.
Tuncay blazed a free-kick over the bar before the Potters squandered a glorious chance through Fuller. After heaping tonnes of pressure upon the Wigan defence Stoke managed to snatch the ball back with Fuller. The Jamaican`s brutal strength and balance forced him through one-on-one with Kirkland but he dragged his effort horribly wide as the whole stadium was left in dis-belief.
Substitute Glenn Whelan, who had earlier replaced Diao, was the next to ruin a great chance. The lightning fast Matthew Etherington darted down the left hand side and clipped a great ball into the stride of Whelan who while sliding diverted the ball narrowly wide.
A piece of brilliant defending from Paul Scharner maintained the 1-1 score line. Tuncay superbly controlled an aerial ball and turned towards goal before volleying inches over albeit after a crucial deflection from Scharner.
Wigan then took the lead against the run of play. After a free-kick for Wigan was awarded inside their half, Maynor Figueroa came up with a moment of brilliance. After spotting Sorensen off his line he struck a 50 yard effort that flew all the way in giving the Dane no chance.
The Potters immediately equalised as Ryan Shawcross beat Kirkland to the ball from Etherington`s corner and headed his second of the season. This all made for an exciting finale as Beattie replaced the frustrated Fuller.
It was Wigan however who should have won it. Robert Huth bought down Jordi Gomez, who was at least one yard offside, and the ref had no hesitation before pointing to the spot. Up stepped Rodallega who planted his effort to Sorensen`s right but to his dismay the keeper guessed correctly and flicked it away with his legs. Full time: Stoke 2-2 Wigan.
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Date:Saturday December 12 2009
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