Queens Park Rangers had a great opportunity to snatch their first three points of the season against a depleted Latics when they took a 2-1 lead through substitute Djibril Cisse in the 71st minute, but Wigan equalised three minutes later through Man of the Match James McCarthy to secure the draw.
McCarthy’s late equaliser confirmed Rangers have made the worst start to the season since the Premier League was founded in 1992, their 16th game without a win surpassing Swindon’s run in 1993.
Wigan were without seven senior players including four central defenders, Antolin Alcaraz, Gary Caldwell, Maynor Figueroa and Ivan Ramis. The defence looked decidedly makeshift with midfielder David Jones drafted into the back three alongside Emmerson Boyce and Adrian Lopez.
In contrast to Wigan’s sparse resources QPR had an expensively assembled squad at their disposal with high-profile players such as Djibril Cisse, Junior Hoilett, Estaban Granero and Alejandro Faurlin only making the bench.
Wigan may have been under strength but they created more chances and were the better side throughout. Yet two sucker punches nearly gave Rangers the three points.
Wigan had taken a deserved lead on 19 minutes through James McCarthy. Following a corner the Irishman drove his shot through a crowded box and the ball clipped Jamie Mackie before evading keeper Robert Green.
Against the run of play Rangers drew level six minutes later. Wigan’s inability to defend set pieces continues to haunt them as Rangers captain Ryan Nelson was allowed to rise unchallenged from a corner to head powerfully past Ali Al Habsi.
The goal initially stunned Wigan but they continued to create chances and Franco Di Santo wasted a good opportunity at the back post to reclaim the lead.
In the second half the home side upped the pressure on the Rangers goal. Former England keeper Green was in fine form producing some excellent saves to deny McCarthy, Jones and substitute Mauro Boselli.
Both Jones and Jordi Gomez hit the Rangers cross bar and it looked only a matter of time before Wigan would score. But the finishing touch could not be applied and the visitors took the lead against the run of play when substitute Djibril Cisse fired his side ahead.
Once again it was a Latics error that gifted the goal. Lopez’s underhit pass allowed Boyce to be robbed by Stephane M’bia who fed Shaun Wright-Phillips and the diminutive winger set up Cisse to side foot home.
But Latics were not to be denied and they deservedly equalised three minutes later. Man of the Match McCarthy firing through a sea of legs following Jean Beausejour’s good work.
McCarthy is an exceptional talent, the 22 year old Irish international was central to many of Wigan’s best moves and with a bit more composure he could have scored a hat-trick. His performances are attracting attention from the top teams, but it is to be hoped that Wigan can hold into him for a few more seasons before the inevitable big move materialises.
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