Swansea 0 Latics 0

Victor Moses beats Swansea's Nathan Dyer to direct a header towards goal
Victor Moses beats Swansea's Nathan Dyer to direct a header towards goal
Share this article

LATICS paid the penalty for a late spot-kick blunder by Ben Watson and had to settle for a point on Roberto Martinez’s return to Swansea.

The Wigan boss was afforded a better-than-expected reception on his first trip back to South Wales since his defection two years ago.

And after weathering a frenetic opening from the home side, Latics came into the game more and more after the break and created the three best chances.

As the game ticked into the final quarter, first Jordi Gomez and then Victor Moses hit the woodwork before Gomez was felled in the area by Ashley Williams.

However, Watson was unable to follow up his successful spot-kick against Norwich last week with another goal, going the same way but seeing Michel Vorm pull off a fine save diving to his right.

Wigan’s afternoon was further soured by injuries picked up to James McCarthy and Antolin Alcaraz, the latter already a definite absentee for next weekend’s visit of QPR.

Alcaraz was making a welcome return for his first appearance of the season, replacing Adrian Lopez alongside skipper Gary Caldwell at the heart of the defence.

The Swans made two changes to the side that opened their top-flight journey with a spanking at Manchester City, Wayne Routledge and Neil Taylor in for Stephen Dobbie and Alan Tate.

And Routledge was immediately into the action, getting his head to a first-minute cross from Angel Rangel, the ball falling to Danny Graham who shot straight at Ali Al Habsi.

Graham had another chance on seven minutes, pulling his shot across goal this time only for Routledge to retrieve it and feed Scott Sinclair, who couldn’t hit the target from the edge of the box.

Momo Diame had Wigan’s first opportunity on 10 minutes, the Frenchman beating a couple of men before Rangel got a toe to the ball as the midfielder pulled the trigger.

Swansea goalkeeper Vorm elected to pick the ball up, despite the ball having been clearly played back to him by a team-mate, but referee Phil Dowd either didn’t see the touch or didn’t feel it warranted a free-kick.

Graham headed wide on 13 minutes after more good work from Rangel down the right, before Franco di Santo almost found a way down the middle, only to be dispossessed by Williams.

McCarthy had his name taken for a pull on the breaking Sinclair, and he was joined in the book moments later by Gomez for a nothing challenge on Neil Taylor that had the natives baying for blood.

The home fans were on their feet again on the half-hour mark when Sinclair played in Routledge but, instead of shooting, the winger elected to play the ball inside looking for Graham, which allowed Caldwell to nip in and clear.

Latics were forced into an enforced switch on 37 minutes when Alcaraz pulled up after nicking the ball away from Routledge, Ronnie Stam coming on at right-back and Emmerson Boyce moving to centre-half.

At this point, Swansea were enjoying a lot of the ball without doing too much with it, Al Habsi not having a great deal to do for the rest of the half.

And, right on the stroke of half-time, Latics put together a lovely one-touch move involving half a dozen players, culminating in Gomez’s shot being well saved by Vorm at the second attempt.

The second half started the same way the first had ended, Swansea dominating possession and Latics content to play on the break.

Sinclair bought a free-kick from Boyce on the edge of the area only to plant it straight into the wall, before Moses led a rare Latics break only to see his shot deflected inches past the post.

Swansea went similarly close at the other end a minute later when Routledge weaved his way through before firing just past Al Habsi’s far post.

If that chance was all Routledge’s work, the home side’s next chance was all Wigan’s own making.

Di Santo - not for the first time - gave the ball away carelessly inside his own half, allowing Graham to advance into the box, only for Boyce to come across and make the interception in the nick of time.

Martinez was forced into a second change just after the hour mark when McCarthy appeared to suffer a knock to his left knee and was replaced by James McArthur.

Hugo Rodallega then entered the fray for the disappointing Di Santo, before an incredible two-minute spell that should have seen Latics stamp their authority on proceedings.

First, Gomez raced through and hit a super dipping volley that beat Vorm all ends up only to bounce back off the far post.

Then, Moses was released by Watson, only for his shot to hit the bar and bounce to safety.

From the rebound, Gomez was felled in the area by Williams for as blatant a penalty-kick as you will see.

Despite Watson hitting the penalty hard and low, Vorm guessed right to the relief of most of those inside the stadium.

Credit to Latics, though, they didn’t let their heads drop and Moses came within inches of getting the final touch to Caldwell’s header back from a Watson corner.

The Swans were hanging on for dear life, but almost scored themselves nine minutes from time when substitute Stephen Dobbie forced a fine stop from Al Habsi, with Sinclair heading the rebound to the side instead of the unguarded goal in front of him.

Back came Wigan, and both Moses and Stam put delightful balls into the box which deserved someone gambling and getting themselves into the danger zone for a tap-in.

Latics knew it wasn’t to be their day with three minutes left when Maynor Figueroa somehow headed Watson’s corner beyond the far post when it seemed easier to score.

And Diame could have done much better with a left-footed strike in the last minute that flashed high and wide of the target.

Latics: Al Habsi 7; Boyce 7, Caldwell 7, Alcaraz 6, Figueroa 7; Gomez 8, McCarthy 7, Watson 6, Diame 7, Moses 7; Di Santo 5. Subs: Pollitt, Stam (for Alcaraz, 37) 7, Thomas, Jones, McArthur (for McCarthy, 65) 6, Sammon, Rodallega (for Di Santo, 70) 6.

Swansea: Vorm; Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor; Sinclair, Agustien, Routledge, Britton, Dyer; Graham. Subs: Moreira, Tate, Dobbie (for Routledge, 74), Allen (for Britton, 74), Moore, Lita (for Graham, 83), Gower.

Referee: Phil Dowd.

Attendance: 19,068.

Star Man: Jordi Gomez – Hit the post and was brought down for the penalty that should have won the game.

Shots on target: WA4 SC6.

Shots off target: WA 6 SC 6.

Corners: WA7 SC7.

In the book:

Latics: Yellow: McCarthy, Gomez, Moses. Red: None.

Swansea: Yellow: None. Red: None.