Wigan reached the last 16 of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history when they overcame a spirited Macclesfield town at Moss Rose. An early penalty converted by Jordi Gomez was enough to put the Latics into the fifth round draw and end the Silkmen’s longest ever run in the Cup.
This cup tie was a blast from the past with fans on both sides reminiscing about previous encounters. In the 1970’s this would have been a cup tie between two local rivals in the Northern Premier League but now Wigan are established in the England’s top league and Macclesfield still ply their trade outside the football league in the Blue Square Bet Premier League.
The opportunity for a major cup shock will have wetted the lips of the twenty-four hour media operations and various red top newspapers preparing suitably caustic headlines if Wigan had been defeated.
Despite the risk of such an embarrassing defeat Roberto Martinez stuck to his belief that the Premier League has to be the top priority and fielded a relatively inexperienced line-up with eight changes to the starting line up from last week’s Premier League fixture against Sunderland. Maynor Figueroa was the latest Latics player to captain the side and new loan signing Joel Robles made his debut on English soil in the Wigan goal.
Latics started the game brightly with Callum McManaman making some penetrative runs towards the Silkmen’s goal and it was only in the sixth minute when the Liverpool born striker cut into the Macclesfield penalty area and was brought down by Thierry Audel. Referee Roger East had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Jordi Gomez hit his penalty high to the right and although on loan keeper Joe Anyon got a hand to the ball he could not keep it out.
Wigan proceeded to dominate proceedings with Callum McManaman continuing to terrorise the Silkmen’s back line. He should probably have scored when Anyon’s punch landed at his feet but he fired wide from eighteen yards.
Macclesfield were not being overawed however and they had a good shout for a penalty when Fairhurst was bundled over in the box but referee East waved away appeals. They should have levelled when Audel missed a golden opportunity. The French defender rose to meet a cross but only headed straight at Joel Robles from six yards out.
Wigan went into the break relieved that they had preserved their lead but early in the second half they should have put the game beyond the Silkmen’s reach when Nouha Dicko raced clear of the home team’s defence but fired his shot tamely at Anyon.
As the half progressed Latics dropped deeper and deeper into their own half and their cause was not helped when both Fraser Fyvie and Dicko both limped off injured.
Macclesfield were dominating possession with Wigan struggling to pose any attacking threat. However, although the home side had a few efforts from long-range, they did not force a save from the Wigan keeper.
The 2,500 Wigan following amused themselves by Ole-ing a series of goal kicks by new Spanish keeper Joel Robles.
Maynor Figueroa and Roman Golobart gave stand out performances in defence and the Latics did just enough to progress to the fifth round for the first time since 1987 when they played Leeds United at Springfield Park.
It was not an auspicious performance by Wigan’s squad players but huge credit should go to Macclesfield for their skill, effort and endeavour.