Stoke hand Wigan another favour in survival bid
31st March 2012 3pm
Attendance: 19, 786
A lacklustre Stoke were well beaten by relegation threatened Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
Goals from Antolin Alcaraz and Victor Moses were enough for Roberto Martinez`s side to notch up only their second home victory of the season.
The result leaves Wigan still in the bottom three sitting in 19th but moves them level with 17th place Blackburn.
Stoke made one change from the side that drew with title chasers Manchester City as Cameron Jerome was replaced by Jermaine Pennant on the right wing. Wigan were unchanged after their impressive victory at Anfield.
With the meeting of the league`s two lowest scorers, the game was never going be one for the neutrals.
The first half demonstrated why these two languished at the bottom of the goal-scoring league as it fizzled out goal less with only a hand full of chances for either side.
Jean Beausejour had the best opportunity of the half when he was well found by the ever impressive Victor Moses who crafted a chance on the right wing and squared the ball to Beausejour who only had the simple task of putting the ball into the empty net but the Chilean horribly put the ball wide.
Earlier, Franco Di Santo closed down a disappointing Andy Wilkinson, who played like he had been on night duty all week with his new born baby, and advanced one-on-one with goalkeeper Asmir Begovic but failed to hold his nerve as Begovic paried the Argentine`s shot wide.
Stoke`s best opportunity of the half came from a Ryan Shawcross front post header but Egyptian goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was more a match to turn the ball over. HALF TIME: 0-0
Into the second half, a minute in fact, and Stoke were given a lifeline by referee Mark Clattenburg who waved away a penalty shout even though it was clear that Dean Whitehead handled in the area.
An injured Matthew Etherington was replaced by Cameron Jerome, which saw Jonathan Walters move to left wing.
It wasn`t long though until Wigan finally got the goal they deserved as the ever impressive Beausejour, whose recent turn up in form has coincided with Wigan`s recent impressive displays, beat Wilkinson on the left hand side with ease and flew over an inch perfect cross which was met by centre half Alcaraz who powered his header in off the post to give Wigan the lead. GOAL 1-0
The goal led to Pulis introducing Wilson Palacios and Ricardo Fuller to add a bit of energy and pace to Stoke`s side.
The changes meant the unfamiliar 4-3-3 formation was deployed, with little impact. To the untrained eye, it seemed the players looked very uncomfortable and confused as to their roles now as if the formation had never been trained.
With this Wigan continued to press and looked the most likely to add to the score sheet, as Beausejour missed another sitter at the far post, horribly blazing wide once again when it seemed easier to score.
As the clock was ticking down, Wigan did become slightly nervous which allowed Stoke to press and as the ball fell to Jerome in the box, a deathly silence was heard around the DW Stadium, but as the former Birmingham striker blazed over the silence changed to ironic cheers and sighs of relief.
Buoyed by this chance, Stoke continued to pile forward, but after an under hit pass from Whitehead to Wilkinson, Moses raced through, leaving Wilkinson chasing shadows and rounded the keeper to extinguish any hopes of a Stoke revival. GOAL 2-0
Full of energy and directness all game. His strength and pace was a constant thorn in Stoke`s side all game, and deservingly grabbed a goal at the end.