Match Report by Ella Cummins
Birmingham City . . . . . . . . . 0
Latics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
A very open encounter at St. Andrews ended goalless, as both teams pushed forward, but neither could break the deadlock. The game was very much there for the taking in the second-half, but several good Latics' surges forward were ultimately fruitless.
Latics came out strong in the first-half, continually pushing forward and creating space in midfield. Charles N'Zogbia, playing through the expected boos, had two great chances in three minutes in the opening fifteen, and created a further opportunity for Hugo Rodallega to open the scoring at St. Andrews. N'Zogbia impressed with his work rate, tracking back and putting in some good tackles, and saw his second chance pushed just over the crossbar by an outstretched Foster.
There was some entertaining football in the first 45 minutes, with both teams creating chances, but it was goalless at the break. Birmingham City came very close to scoring right on half-time: Hleb whipped a free kick into the box from the side of the area, with Al Habsi spilling the ball, but diving quickly to the floor to collect from the feet of Cameron Jerome.
Latics came out confident again in the second-half, with Figueroa drilling a ball across the face of goal in the opening few minutes. Birmingham City responded second later with a Larsson free kick met by the head of Roger Johnson who put it just wide.
Martinez made a tactical substitution on 58 minutes, with Stam making way for Franco Di Santo, in order to look for final-ball success. The change nearly came to fruition after the ball broke from a Birmingham City corner, with Di Santo playing the ball through to N'Zogbia from the halfway line, but it went just the wrong side of the defender. Di Santo carried on looking strong, linking up with Rodallega and N'Zogbia to create plenty of chances.
Al Habsi made another brave save halfway through the second-half, diving to Jerome's feet once again, and just pushing the ball out of reach of the Birmingham City striker.
Birmingham City were reduced to ten men on 88 minutes after Craig Gardner saw red for a two-footed challenger on Franco Di Santo, which left the Argentinian striker needing to leave the field for treatment.
Either team could have broken the stalemate in the second 45 minutes, and it did seem inevitable that a goal would come, but unfortunately for Latics, the final ball was just not there. However, it was a good away point, and a very good team performance from Martinez's men: Latics do now seem to have really gelled together as a team.
Another positive for Wigan Athletic was the appearance of Hendry Thomas, who played the full 90 minutes, after suffering a nasty cut midweek against Preston.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Gohouri, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Diame (Watson 82), Thomas, Stam (Di Santo 58(Moses 90+1)), McCarthy, N'Zogbia, Rodallega.
Subs: Kirkland, S. Caldwell, Watson, Gomez, Boselli, Moses.
Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Boywer (Zigic 61), Jerome (Phillips 77), Hleb (Beausejour 61).
Subs: Taylor, Derbyshire, Fahey, Jiranek.