Topsy-turvy Tics – Wigan Athletic 1 Birmingham City 1

Ashley Fletcher equalised for the Tics

  • It was a confusing Wigan Athletic performance as they drew 1-1 with relegation rivals Birmingham City at the DW Stadium.
  • The visitors were ahead after just four minutes when Christ Tiehi committed an unnecessary foul on the edge of the box and Juninho Bacuna curled a superb free-kick over the wall and past Ben Amos.
  • Latics didn’t really threaten in the first half but top scorer Will Keane replaced Tiehi at half-time and they were much better in the second half.
  • They deservedly equalised on the hour mark when Ashley Fletcher turned home James McClean’s cross.
  • The Blues responded and they hit the woodwork three times in quick succession. First Scott Hogan hit the bar with his controversially awarded penalty, before Tahith Chong hit the foot of the post and then Maxime Colin headed against the post.
  • Keane had a late opportunity to take all three points when he rounded goalkeeper John Ruddy but his effort from a tight angle could only find the side netting.
  • Latics move off the bottom of the Championship table but they are  effectively seven points from safety because of an inferior goal difference. Birmingham are in 19th place and are seven points above the relegation zone.

Shaun Maloney made three changes from the 2-1 defeat at PNE with Omar Rekik, Danel Sinani and Thelo Aasgaard replacing Tendayi Darikwa, Will Keane and Callum Lang in the starting line up.

Latics got off to the worst possible start and were behind after only four minutes. Tiehi committed an unnecessary foul on the edge of the box and Latics were punished from the resulting free-kick. Bacuna curled a superb free-kick over the wall and into the top right corner.

Latics were stunned to go behind so quickly in such an important fixture and they struggled to create much momentum in the first half.

Sinani tried his luck with a volley from the edge of the area, but his effort was wide of the target. Max Power fired a shot over the crossbar from 25 yards and Sinani’s strike from distance was easily saved by Ruddy but they had failed to create any clear-cut chances in the first half.

Maloney’s starting line up just hadn’t been working and he sensibly introduced Keane at half-time. The Latics top scorer almost had an immediate impact when he controlled Ryan Nyambe’s pass and turned before hitting a low shot towards goal, but Ruddy got down well to save at close range.

Latics positive start to the second half was rewarded when Fletcher levelled the scores on 60 minutes. Thelo Aasgaard fed James McClean on the left, whose low cross was well turned into the net by Fletcher.

It was the Watford loanees second goal of the season but he will need to score much more often if Latics are to avoid the drop.

Birmingham were almost immediately given a boost when referee Steve Martin controversially awarded a penalty.

Bacuna went down under an innocuous challenge from Nyambe and to everyone’s surprise referee Martin pointed to the penalty spot. Justice was done however as Scott Hogan’s resulting spot-kick crashed against the crossbar.

The Blues continued to press forward and they hit the woodwork again on two occasions as Chong and Colin both saw their efforts hit the frame of the goal in quick succession.

Latics had rode their luck but they could’ve won the game in the 71st minute when Keane rounded the keeper but unfortunately fired into the side netting from a tight angle.

Despite both teams being desperate for a victory neither could gain the advantage and the points had to be shared.


Latics made the worst possible start to this game and they were clearly unsettled after going behind so early.

Maloney’s team changes had not helped the cause in the first half as they struggled to create meaningful chances.

At least the manager realised they needed to make a change at half-time and introduce top scorer Keane. The Republic of Ireland striker hasn’t been at his best recently but he is still Latics most likely scorer and should be in the starting XI.

It was a confusing performance by Latics as they did some things very well, Jack Whatmough and Charlie Hughes were excellent in defence, but they lacked creativity in the first half and were toothless in attack.

In the second half they showed a more positive attacking approach and moved the ball much quicker. This has to be the recipe if they are going to claim the victories they so desperately need.

Latics have some difficult fixtures upcoming but they must try to upset the odds and record a victory very soon if they are to escape the drop.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney was quick to praise his side for how they responded to the early set back and fought until the very end of the encounter.

“I was really pleased with how we played,” he said.

“They had a penalty, and hit the post a couple of times in strange three-to-four minutes, but I thought we dominated the rest of the game.

“It was a brilliant free-kick, and you could see the dynamic of the game change.

“They gave us the ball, and it was up to us to go and break them down. Birmingham made it really hard to play, which is fine because they are in a similar position to us.

“It’s a different game from what we’ve had in the previous five, and it had a huge impact on the game. That’s why I’m so pleased with how the team played.

“We had to keep going, and even though the crowd got frustrated at times. That is what makes me most pleased, but I’m also a little bit disappointed that we didn’t win the game.

“If I could want more, it is to be more aggressive in the final third and have the belief that we can hurt teams. The game became a little bit open at times, but I’m pleased overall, even in a game which I thought we could’ve won. 

“One thing that today does show is that we are fighting until the last minute. The mentality was good after going 1-0 down against an opponent who tried to kill the game early in.

“We kept fighting and the intensity of how we played was still good. We have to now be ready for Tuesday.”

Player ratings

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Ashley Fletcher, Birmingham City, Championship, Juninho Bacuna, Shaun Maloney, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Topsy-turvy Tics – Wigan Athletic 1 Birmingham City 1

  1. Ijaz says:

    From a Birmingham fan – good luck with your relegation fight. It was two very poor sides and I think we’ll both be exactly where we are at the end of the season. Shocking stats for Eustace – lost 7 out of last 10, won 2, drawn 1. I think we are bottom of the form guide. If we lose to Rotherham at home they need to sack him.

    • ianhaspinall says:

      I thought Birmingham played well in patches on Saturday and have some creative players eg Juninho Bacuna. A draw was probably a fair result on the day. I’m still hopeful Latics can survive as it looks like a few more teams could be dragged into the relegation dogfight eg QPR & Reading. Still quite a few points to play for.

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