Play-off heartache for Latics – Queens Park Rangers 2 Wigan Athletic 1 (AET)

Emmerson Boyce

Man of the Match Emmerson Boyce didn’t deserve to be on the losing team

Wigan suffered the disappointment of an extra-time play-off semi-final defeat at the hands of Queens Park Rangers.

Latics had taken an early lead through James Perch but Gary Caldwell conceded a penalty and Charlie Austin converted from the spot kick.

The former Burnley striker then broke Latics hearts early in extra-time with a well taken finish.

Rangers now go on to face Derby County in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on 24th May.

Uwe Rösler decided to start with 3-5-2 formation and began the game without an established central striker, James McClean and Callum McManaman providing the forward threat.

It was McClean who provided a low cross for James Perch to put Wigan ahead on nine minutes. The former Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United player getting in front of the last defender to blast the ball home from close range.

Soon afterwards McClean had a one-on-one with Green following a poor back pass, but instead of electing to go around the former England keeper, he went down and was booked for simulation.

Latics had succeed in quietening the home crowd and it was only towards half time that Rangers started to threaten.

Nico Kranjcar began to turn the Wigan defence and create opportunities for his team mates.

An Austin effort was cleared off the Wigan line by a combination  of Scott Carson and McClean and Emmerson Boyce brilliantly headed away two goal bound efforts in quick succession just before the interval.

Rangers continued to press for an equaliser after the interval and Harry Redknapp introduced Bobby Zamora for the ineffective Kevin Doyle on 64 minutes.

The turning point of the game came soon afterwards as McClean had another one-on-one with Green. The winger this time fired a low shot into the keeper’s body and although the ball bounced back into his path he knocked the ball against the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.

On 69 minutes Rangers drew level when Caldwell made a rash challenge on the edge of the box on Zamora. Charlie Austin stepped up and sent Carson the wrong way from the spot kick.

When committing the foul Caldwell had injured himself and was immediately replaced by Leon Barnett.

Substitute Martyn Waghorn had a low shot well saved at the near post by Green as Latics looked to regain their lead.

The former Leicester City striker then had a shot blocked in a crowded penalty area following Shaun Maloney’s corner.

On 81 minutes Zamora had a glorious opportunity to give Rangers the advantage but he looped his effort onto the roof of the net.

Wigan might have won it on 90 minutes when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Rangers box. Memories of Maloney’s superb equaliser at Loftus Road last season came flooding back, but this time the Scot decided to keep his effort low and the ball was deflected away from goal.

But the home team were ahead just six minutes into extra-time when Austin evaded Barnett to divert the ball past Carson following Zamora’s chipped pass.

Latics pushed and probed for an equaliser but despite forcing a series of corners in the dying minutes they could not make the vital contact.

Rob Kiernan’s speculative late deflected strike almost gave Latics a lifeline but it was just not to be on the night.

Rangers now head to Wembley to face Derby County in the play-off final. Brave Wigan will look back on a season in which they played more games than any other English team and fell just short of creating some special football history.

Injuries to key players and a poor start to the campaign meant Latics were always playing catch up. If Uwe Rösler had been in post prior to the start of the season Wigan might now be celebrating.

A repeat FA Cup success and promotion via the play-offs would have been a unique achievement and Latics fans should be proud that we got so near.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Harry Redknapp, Play-offs, QPR, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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