Wigan Athletic slipped out of the Capital One Cup with a shock defeat on penalties to Division 2 Bradford City. After David Jones and Ben Watson had converted their spot kicks, Shaun Maloney fired over the bar and Jordi Gomez had his effort saved by Bradford keeper Duke.
Roberto Martinez made nine changes from Saturday’s win against West Ham United with only Ali Al Habsi and Ivan Ramis retaining their places. It was a calculated risk by the manager but most independent observers would expect Wigan’s squad players to have enough to overcome a Division 2 side. It was a disappointing performance by Wigan’s fringe players, despite dominating possession and creating many good chances they were profligate in front of goal. An early header by Ivan Ramis was disallowed for a marginal offside, Mauro Boselli wasted several good scoring chances and Jordi Gomez missed a golden opportunity when he had one on one with keeper Duke in extra time.
Overall Wigan’s play in the final third was ineffective. Roni Stam making a rare appearance in place of Emmerson Boyce wasted several good attacking plays by over hitting his crosses and the other wing back debutant Daniel Redmond rarely got into attacking positions.
Bradford rarely threatened until the latter stages and the game should have been well beyond them before that time. But full credit should be given to the hard-working Division Two outfit who defended manfully and stuck to their task through extra time and penalties.
The Bantams had a great following on the night and sold out their full allocation of 5,000 tickets however only around 6,500 Wigan fans decided to turn out for the game. There are no easy excuses for Wigan’s shock exit but it was desperately disappointing to see such a low home following despite the prospect of a good cup run.
Nearly 15,000 home fans turned out for the home fixture against West Ham at the DW Stadium but less than 7,000 decided to return on the Tuesday night. In the past I have been a staunch defender of Wigan’s crowds, as we have a 19,000 average crowd in a small town of 80,000 people which is a reasonable return, but you would expect a much better crowd for such a Cup game.
Clearly the Capital One Cup is not a priority in comparison to our Premier League status, but this was great opportunity to progress to the last eight of the competition. The club had made the game financially attractive by offering tickets at a bargain £10 but many fans did not see fit to take up the offer.
Bradford’s vociferous following certainly helped their team throughout and the longer the game went on the louder they became. If the Wigan fans had turned up in significant numbers this might have swayed the game in our favour. Surely some food for thought for all true Latics fans.