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Wigan v Spurs, 27.04.13

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 27TH APRIL, 2013
(3pm)
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1)

Wigan scorers:-
Boyce, 11
McManaman, 49

Spurs scorers:-
Bale, 9
Boyce (o.g), 90

Attendance:- 22, 326

Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- P. Kirkup & C. Breakspear
Fourth official:- Mr. N. Swarbrick

Teams:-
Wigan:- (3-4-3):- Robles; Scharner, Figuero (sub Stam, 35), McCarthy; Boyce (Capt.), McArthur, Gomez (sub Espinoza, 79); Beausejour; McManaman, (sub Di Santo, 63), Kone, Maloney

Subs not used:- Al Habsi; Caldwell; Watson, Henriquez

Booked:- Gomez, Di Santo, Scharner (foul on Defoe)

Spurs:- (4-3-3):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Naughton (sub Assou-Ekotto, 64); Parker (sub Lennon, 73), Huddlestone, Dembele (sub Holtby, 41); Bale, Defoe, Dempsey

Subs not used:- Friedel; Caulker; Carroll, Sigurdsson

Booked:- Dawson (foul on Kone)

Europa League, here we come (if we're lucky)

Spurs looked everything but a Champions League side today, scoring two lucky goals really against a side battling against relegation, which has taken four points off us this season. Gareth Bale got us off to a great start, in only the ninth minute, when closing down goalkeeper Joel Robles, but within two minutes, Spurs failed to effectively defend a Wigan corner, allowing defender/wing-back Emmerson Boyce an easy free headed equaliser.

Wigan took an early second half lead, through McManaman (perhaps related to the former Liverpool star), and it took Spurs all the way to the last minute of normal time to grab an equaliser, after Boyce inadvertently got the decisive touch on a powerful Huddlestone free kick.

The share of a point each was not what either team was seeking really, and I suspect that in Spurs's case it is the start of an end of season failure to qualify for next season's Champions League. In truth, we just did not look good enough for that level of football.

We had to settle for the presence of Aaron Lennon on the bench. AVB played a 4-3-3, with Parker, Huddlestone and Dembele across the midfield, with Bale, Defoe and Dempsey up front. There was no sign of Adebayor, even on the bench, and whilst Defoe was never going to succeed as a hold-up merchant, the ball was rarely even played to him anyway. Although Bale got that early goal, he too was fairly quiet, and as has often been suggested by this writer, and many Spurs fans, he is most effective on the left.

There was a good crowd for the DW stadium, boosted by an excellent Spurs turn-out. Spurs played away from their support in the first half, and after only one minute, Bale had a chance from a Huddlestone free kick. Bale mis-directed his attempt wide of the mark.

Another Huddlestone free kick after 4minutes looked as if it was parried by Robles, and then fired well over. Then came that break for Spurs, as Bale closed down the keeper, whose attempt at a clearance simply rebounded into the net.

Spurs failed to hold the lead though, as Boyce headed home from a corner taken on the right-hand side.

Real chances on goal were quite sporadic. Dempsey fired wide from 30 yards, outside the keeper's right-hand post. Huddlestone sent a good ball over the top for Defoe, but Scharner did well to clear. Scott Parker exchanged passes with Bale, and had a shot, but it passed well over the target.

Gomez ran onto a great ball over the top of the defence, and passed the ball sideways to Kone, whose shot went just over the bar, dipping beyond the net. Vertonghen sent a great pass to Defoe, but he was effectively closed down for a Spurs throw.

There was another good ball by Huddlestone for Kyle Walker down the right-hand side. Waller passed inside to Defoe,who teed up Parker, who tried a curling shot that passed outside the post.

Figueroa had to be stretchered off after only 33 minutes, and was replaced by Ronnie Stam.

Defoe was onto another Huddlestone ball, but the offside flag was in the air. Dembele had been carrying a knock, and had to be replaced by Holtby before the interval.

After 43minutes, Naughton was onto a trademark Dawson diagonal ball but his cross was headed over by Bale. Another Huddlestone ball was headed through, and Defoe slid it to Parker, but he just couldn't get in a shot.

Wigan took the lead early in the second half,when the ball was played from left to right,following an attacking throw. Kone made the final pass to McManaman, who happily hit his shot over Lloris into the net in the centre of goal.

Huddlestone took a free kick after a foul on Defoe, but this was cleared. Soon after that, Assou-Ekotto replaced Naughton at left back. It wasn't long before the Spurs support was baying for Lennon, but they had to wait a bit longer.

Bale did manage to collect a ball played down the right, and gave Dempsey a chance, but Maloney was too strong for the American, and the goalkeeper picked up.

Lennon finally replaced Parker, but there was panic at the back for Spurs, after Walker over-ran a ball in midfield. The ball was fed to Kone, and Lloris made an important save.

With one minute of normal time to go, Spurs had a free kick after Walker was fouled on the right of the area. Huddlestone hit the kick hard and low into the box. Vertonghen was thereabouts, but Emmerson Boyce goes down as the unlucky Wigan player to score an own goal.

In four minutes of added time, Spurs tried desperately to snatch a win. Defoe made a break, feeding the ball to Dempsey on the right. He chipped a ball towards the back post, but Bale just failed to make contact. Then, after Scharner was booked for a desperate foul on Defoe just outside the box, Bale took the kick, and both Huddlestone and Defoe had attempts blocked or cleared.

At the moment, Spurs are in touch with both Arsenal and Chelsea, who both play tomorrow. We will have to hope for Man United to beat the gooners, and I personally think a miracle will be required for Swansea to get anything out of Chelsea.

The fight for fourth (or better) is not of course yet over, but we definitely lost a bit of ground today. I think we will be left sorely regretting the points we have lost to Wigan when the season ends.

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