A 90th minute goal by Shaun Maloney rescued a point for Wigan after they had been outplayed in the second half by a rampant Southampton. The home side had taken the lead from a powerful Gary Caldwell header but the Saints had dominated the second period and gone ahead through goals by Rickie Lambert and Morgan Schneiderlin.
The Saints had been well worth their lead and could have been at least a couple more goals ahead before Maloney’s late equaliser.
Wigan had new loan signing and fans favourite Paul Scharner making his second Latics debut as he slotted into a back three with Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa.
The Saints made one change from their recent narrow defeat to Manchester United with Luke Shaw coming in for Danny Fox at left back. Following the game at Old Trafford, United’s manager Alex Ferguson claimed the Saints had been the best side he’d seen at the ground this season.
Southampton set up very positively, playing a high line and playing three forwards mirroring Wigan’s back three. The away team were determined to keep Wigan penned back and prevent them from imposing their usual passing game.
The Latics created the game’s first chance with Saints keeper Artur Boruc pulling off a spectacular full-stretch save to deny Franco Di Santo, who toe poked Jean Beausejour’s angled cross towards goal.
The Saints should have scored soon afterwards when the unchallenged Gaston Ramirez volleyed high over the bar from ten yards out.
Rather uncharacteristically Wigan took the lead from a set piece when Gary Caldwell met a Beausejour corner and headed powerfully into the Saints net.
Despite taking the lead Wigan looked unsettled with their opponents working hard to close down and pressurising them all over the park.
Schneiderlin nearly equalised when his block from James McCarthy’s clearance on the edge of the Wigan box rebounded towards goal but Ali Al Habsi produced a superb save to tip the ball over the bar.
The home team went into the break a little lucky to be ahead given the high level of performance from the away team. Wigan’s midfielders James McCarthy, James McArthur and Roger Espinoza were all having an off day but their opponents should be given credit for their tenacity and determination to win the ball.
The second half continued with the Saints on top, but with good defending by Wigan’s back three of Scharner, Caldwell and Figueroa held firm until the 64th minute.
The equaliser came however when Jack Cork crossed to Jay Rodriguez who out-jumped the defence to head on to Lambert, who beat Ali Al-Habsi to the ball at the back post.
Southampton continued to dominate and went close to going ahead when Adam Lallana’s volley crashed back off the post and Lambert volleyed wide from a Luke Shaw cross.
Wigan hung on desperately until the 85th minute, but some superb counterattacking by the Saints gave them the lead when Rodriguez broke down the left, beat a lunging challenge from substitute Callum McManaman and crossed for Schneiderlin to finish comfortably.
Despite the set back Wigan refused to give up and it was the returning hero Paul Scharner who had a big part in the equaliser. The colourful Austrian got his head to a corner and Shaun Maloney forced the ball over the line from close range.
It was probably more than Wigan deserved but in the long run it could be a crucial point in their fight for survival.
Many people will be critical of Wigan’s performance as the home team, but the Saints should be given due credit for their outstanding display.
Southampton had produced one of the best performances I have seen at the DW Stadium this season. New manager Mauricio Pochettino has made an instant impact at the club and he has already got them playing some great football which will surely pull them away from the relegation zone.