Forty years since reaching an FA Trophy final Wigan Athletic reached a historic FA Cup final with 2-0 win over Millwall. Two goals of high quality by Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman secured a place in the final against either Manchester City or Chelsea on Saturday 11th May. The result means that not only have they reached an FA Cup final for the first time but they have almost certainly qualified for a Europa League place next season.
Wigan retained the same outfield line-up from their recent draw at QPR but Ali Al Habsi replaced Joel Robles in-goal. Under grey skies and constant rain it was the Latics who made the running in the opening half.
Premier League Wigan moved the ball around more easily than their Championship opponents and looked the more accomplished outfit. Callum McManaman looked especially lively and when he unleashed a 20 yard shot the Millwall keeper David Forde was at full stretch.
Latics took the lead on 25 minutes when Arouna Kone produced a great diagonal ball and Shaun Maloney finished clinically under the body of the Millwall keeper.
Paul Scharner and Jordi Gomez continued to test Forde as Wigan looked to extend their lead before half time. Although Wigan were on top with the score at 1-0, they could never fully relax.
Following the break Millwall were the more combative outfit and Wigan looked a little edgy. The Latics gave the ball away far too easily and the Lions forced a succession of corners. The chances Millwall created were mainly half chances, but one header by Mark Beavers bounced inches over the Wigan cross bar, much to the relief of the Latics fans.
On 78 minutes Jordi Gomez threaded a ball to McManaman and the young Liverpudlian showed great composure to round the Millwall keeper and consolidate Wigan’s lead.
Following McManaman’s goal there was an outbreak of fighting amongst the Millwall fans. Such behaviour can only confirm the view that they still have a significant mindless element in their following.
The second goal ensured that Wigan played out the remaining 15 Minutes in relative comfort. They controlled possession and threatened to score a third when Arouna Kone fired against Forde’s legs from a tight angle.
Apart from the 15 minute period just after half time Wigan had been the dominant team and thoroughly deserved to reach their first ever FA Cup final.
Since Dave Whelan took over the club in 1995 it has been an incredible journey and it is just getting better and better.
When Whelan took control of the club he said he would get Wigan into the Premier League and many people mocked. When he said he would like to see the Latics play in the FA Cup final many people said it was an impossible dream. But during Whelan’s chairmanship and Roberto Martinez’s management Wigan continue to do remarkable things. This season’s FA Cup has had the strap line ‘To The Dream’, in Wigan’s case the dream has now become a reality.