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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
18:00 19th May 2013
By  Nick Taylor

REPORT: LATICS 2 VILLA 2

Wigan Athletic ended their eighth Barclays Premier League season with a 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa, after captain Emmerson Boyce levelled following an early Darren Bent opener, with Latics then taking the lead from a Nathan Baker own goal, before Ron Vlaar's volley made it a share of the spoils for both sides.

Roberto Martinez brought in three changes from the FA Cup final and game against Arsenal on Tuesday, as Ali Al Habsi replaced Joel Robles in goal, with Ben Watson and Roman Golobart coming in for Callum McManaman and Antolin Alcaraz.

As tension built in the first five minutes of the game, the final day of the season wasn't proving the perfect send off for Latics as Darren Bent was played straight through the middle of defence and under challenges from Golobart and Paul Scharner he stroked the ball into the bottom corner of Al Habsi's goal.

Then came the celebrations from the Aston Villa end as their side went 1-0 up, followed by a three minute pause after a flare was thrown onto the pitch into Al Habsi's box.

With played resuming, Latics began to build and 15 minutes later it paid off as the ball was worked wide to Roger Espinoza on the left who crossed deep for Emmerson Boyce to rise above the defence and power a header past Brad Guzan.

The goal came at the end of the minute of applause for Villa midfielder Stilyan Petrov who is recovering from Acute Leukemia, all four sides of the DW Stadium took to their feet for the moment.

The rest of the half saw both sides toying with possession but Latics made more of it and broke up Villa's possession with relative ease.

Arouna Kone's pace and power had Villa back tracking twice after they lost the ball on the edge of Latics' area but the Ivorian forward couldn't make it pay off, first being closed down and then playing a pass just too long for James McCarthy.

Latics had no fear though when in the second minute of added time a ricochet put them ahead.

Shaun Maloney stepped up to take yet another Latics corner which created chaos in the Villa area.

Scharner rose at the front post but had his header blocked, Villa attempted to clear but the ball fell to Golobart who stabbed at it but to no avail, Villa still couldn't clear and with a swoop of his right foot Ben Watson forced Matthew Lowton to block off the goal line but into his own defender Baker who turned the ball in.

At 2-1 up and starting the second half at full pace, it look inevitable that Latics would get a third but it was an eventual equaliser that followed.

Watson tested the gloves of Guzan from range and James McCarthy looked a constant menace when he ran with the ball but it was to be Villa's Ron Vlaar on the score sheet as a high ball in from the right dropped for him inside the area and he blasted a volley into the top corner.

Just before the equaliser Boyce almost made it three for Latics when he skimmed the cross bar and it was to be the cross bar that got in Latics' way again later in the half when James McArthur's first time volley from an Espinoza cross had Guzan beaten all ends up but cannoned back down off the woodwork.

As the game headed for a draw, Roberto Martinez handed a Premier League debut to Scotland Under 21 international Fraser Fyvie and a first ever appearance to Spanish defender Edu Campabadal.

With two minutes of the three minutes added time, Latics almost grabbed all three points on their Premier League farewell when Roman Golobart curled a right footed shot from close range over bodies and onto the top of the net.

For the final game of the season the Wigan Athletic fans were out in full voice and the perfect end to the day saw the FA Cup trophy paraded around the DW pitch to rapturous applause.