4th May 2013 - The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2
WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
Latics fell behind twice in this goal fest at the Hawthorns but showed strength in character to go on and win the game ten minutes from time.
Shane Long had put the hosts ahead only for Arouna Kone to equalise just before half time, but Gareth McAuley soon restored the Baggies’ lead with a header five minutes after the second half restarted.
Impact substitute James McArthur brought things all square once more and with 80 minutes on the clock, Callum McManaman arrived in the box to tap home a Shaun Maloney cross.
It was the 10th Barclays Premier League meeting between the two sides and what better way to mark the milestone than with a five goal thriller which ended in the 95th minute with a goal line clearance from one of the goal scorers.
After losing 2-1 at the DW Stadium earlier in the season Latics were determined to reverse the result in their bid for survival in the league and a victory just seven days before the club’s first ever FA Cup final would be a sure fire boost to confidence.
Roberto Martinez made two changes to the side that had agonizingly drawn late on against Tottenham Hotspur in the previous game, as James McArthur dropped to the bench for the long awaited return of Ben Watson who had been out injured with a fractured shin since mid-November.
Ronnie Stam also came into the side to replace the recently injured Maynor Figueroa in a defensive re-shuffle.
West Brom, comfortably sat in eighth place in the Premier League, showed no sign of holidaying in the early stages as they took the game to Latics and had already tested Joel Robles reflexes within the first eight minutes as he was forced off his line to cut out a cross from Long.
As the two sides jostled for possession and looked to build, Latics created their first opening, albeit from long range, as Kone found space with defenders backing off and forced Ben Foster to turn a stinging effort around the post.
Just before the half an hour mark Latics’ chances of pulling to within just two points of 17th place Sunderland looked bleak when a mistake from former Baggies defender Paul Scharner allowed the home side to counter.
Scharner stepped out of defence into the opposition half but was dispossessed and with one swift pass Romelu Lukaku sent Markus Rosenberg on his way down an open right wing.
With Watson tracking him back the Swedish forward couldn’t cut inside to shoot himself, but instead cross low into the danger zone between Emmerson Boyce and Ronnie Stam for Long to sneak in and tap home at close range.
It was a smash and grab attack that would prove to be the theme of many of West Brom’s offensive movement with full back Billy Jones also coming close later on in the first half as he flashed the ball across the face of goal unchallenged.
Latics created twice before eventually equalising on 39 minutes and Kone almost restored parity eight minutes before his goal when Stam crossed to the front post but the Ivorian striker was blocked by McAuley.
Shaun Maloney also flashed a free kick just wide of Foster’s top right corner as Latics looked to build some pressure.
After almost conceding to a Lukaku one-on-one from another defensive mix-up a minute earlier, Latics went on to equalise with six minutes of the half remaining when Jean Beausejour’s high curling cross was met by the head of a leaping Kone who thumped in for 1-1.
A set piece became Latics’ undoing five minutes after the restart for the second half when a swinging free kick from the right wing was headed into the ground by McAuley and into the roof of the net.
A double substitution seven minutes later proved a master stroke as James McArthur and Roman Golobart replaced Jordi Gomez and Ronnie Stam, with McArthur scoring a minute later for 2-2.
Maloney was the architect with his first of two assists in the game as he crossed left footed to the back post for McArthur to dive onto the cross with his head as a sneaked in behind Jonas Olsson.
West Brom came close to taking the lead for a third time with McAuley heading just over from close range and Jones having a tight angled effort saved by the feet of Robles.
For Latics though there could only be one outcome and keeping up with the tradition of strong away following equals strong results, they sent the 1,000 plus supporters behind the goal into a frenzy as they took the lead for the first time.
Substitute Roger Espinoza played Maloney in down the left wing, with the Scottish international’s step overs confusing two defenders before he cut back a cross from the by-line into the path of McManaman who diverted the ball in from close range for 3-2 (pictured).
The euphoria of the goal had Latics fans in fine voice and their roar only got louder as they encouraged the defence to remain strong for the final stretch as West Brom threatened.
Youssouf Mulumbu curled a shot wide, Graham Dorrans forced Robles into a two-fisted save with a vicious volley and in the final minute of five added on, goal scorer McArthur was forced to head off his own line and safely into the hands of his goalkeeper.
It seemed that a season worth of emotions had been piled into a single game but as Lee Probert blew the final whistle the joy belonged to Latics.
West Brom: Foster, Olsson, Yacob, Ridgewell, Rosenberg (Morrison 65), Long, Dorrans, Lukaku (Thomas 65), Mulumbu (Brown 86), McAuley, Jones
Latics: Robles, Kone, McCarthy, Watson, Maloney, Gomez (McArthur 57), McManaman, Boyce, Beausejour (Espinoza 74), Stam (Golobart 57), Scharner
“Shaun has put it on a plate for me and he’s provided excellent assists for both James’ goal and mine.
“He deserves all of the credit because I only tapped it in, I didn’t even hit it how I meant to but I’ll take scoring a goal like that any day of the week.”
“It was great to be back on the pitch and it was a hell of a game.
“Rehab went really well and it was nice to play the full 90 minutes.
“As a team we reacted well to conceding goals and a bit of magic from Shaun (Maloney) and Callum (McManaman) topped it all off.”
“It was excellent to see Callum get the winning goal because he’s being doing so well for us.
“He was a real threat every time he got the ball and he puts defenders on the back foot.
“He’s added goals to his game recently and that’s an excellent sign for us.”
“I’m very positive about my career here and I’m always ready whenever I’m needed.
“I was warming up and wasn’t sure whether I’d be needed but then Jean (Beausejour) got injured and I had to be ready.
“That’s the way we’ve all got to be because of the situation we’re in at the moment with survival and injuries.”