Today’s game had been billed as a match between the football purism of Wigan Athletic and the up and at ‘em style of Stoke City and so it panned out.
Roberto Martinez opted to keep the same line up which performed so well against Liverpool and the confidence almost resulted in a goal in the first minute when Beausejour found himself in acres of space on the left but with bodies unmarked in the area he overshot the area.
Stoke were ponderous throughout and Wigan with Maloney and the two Mc’s (Arthur and Carthy) totally dominating midfield with their slick and incisive passing, the Stoke back four was forced onto the back foot time and again.
Di Santo provided a willing workhorse up front but after a bullocking run when he charged down a slack Stoke clearance and out-paced the defence with only Berkovic to beat , he produced a poor shot which spewed wide for a corner.
Time and again Wigan poured forward and time and again they spurned chances, the most obvious one from Beausejour when totally unmarked a yard out, his shot managed to miss the goal completely, hitting Huth and going out for a corner.
Maloney showed him how to find the target but his shot was well saved by Berkovic.
Stoke offered very little going forward save the tetchy Pennant whose battle with Beausejour led to expectations that the game would not end eleven aside.
Wigan’s backline was shipping in goals like a queue at a petrol station earlier in the season but in the last few weeks Alcaraz and especially Caldwell have provided a solid backdrop to the attacking prowess and this again allowed Figueroa and Boyce to push forward as wing backs.
The half time whistle brought thunderous applause for a totally one sided performance but for a Wigan side that had only won one home league game all season with the lowest goals for tally in the Premier League, this applause was tempered by the fear that Wigan’s failure to convert chances would again prove costly.
They didn’t have needed to worry, the second half started the same as the first with the triumvate of Maloney, McArthur and McCarthy displaying excellent control of midfield both attacking and defending, this nullifying their bigger more physical opponents.
Wigan had a good shout for a penalty shortly after the re-start when McArthur’s shot was handled by Whitehead but Mr Clattenburg giving his usual erratic display at the DW waved away the appeals that followed.
The opening goal came from a surprise source when Alcaraz rose unchallenged from a cross to head a powerful header into the net for his first goal of the season.
In the past Wigan have failed to kill teams off and they continued to waste chances with Beausejour and Boyce the main culprits.
As the game wore on Stoke switched to 4-3-3 in an effort to get an undeserved equaliser but Wigan held firm and in the dying seconds Victor Moses playing through the pain barrier, broke away from the defence, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into an empty net.
The final whistle sparked wild celebrations both on the pitch and in the stands as Wigan celebrated their first home win since August to shouts of , “ we are staying up”.
Line up and player ratings
Al Habsi ….. 7 , did what he had to do.
Alcaraz ……9, man of the match ,imperious at the back and a fantastic goal
Caldwell…..8, another great performance
Boyce …….8, linked up well going forward and defended stoutly
Figueroa …8, ditto Boyce
McCarthy…8, best performance of the season
Maloney ….8, another busy performance
Moses…….8, worked hard and took his goal well
McArthur…8, growing in stature every week
Beausejour 6.5, wasted two really good chances
Di Santo …7. did everything bar score
Gomez…7 played well
Watson…7 added steel to the defence