Date: 20th January 2008 at 6:05pm
Written by: baskerville

Wigan welcomed the Sky cameras to the JJB eager to show how much progress they had made under Steve Bruce`s tutelage.

In the end however it was two errors the first a classic “Titus” moment and the second the failure to mark up at a set piece which gave Everton a two nil lead they didn`t deserve and although Wigan huffed and puffed in the second half the lack of a proven goal scorer meant our visitors from Liverpool went home the happier.

Wigan made one change from the team that unconvincingly beat Derby last week, Scharner returning from suspension replacing Boyce resulting in a home debut for Wilson Palacios on the left wing.

Palacios almost made an immediate impression cutting in from the left in a jinking run which ended with a weak shot exposing his lack of a left foot ( in football terms not literally).

Palacios was inspired and a flick on to Heskey at the near post should have been better directed from the England forward.

The game was very physical in midfield with Arteta and Brown vying to see who could get in the referees notebook first.

The first booking in the end had a touch of farce about it with Cahill ending up in the book for deliberately taking a free kick with a moving ball.

This typified Mr Probert and his assistants afternoon as they were inconsistent for both sides which only served to wind up both players and supporters alike

Whilst Wigan were the dominant team for most of the first half and were unlucky not to score when a Bent effort hit the underside of the bar and stayed out, it was never secure and Everton looked dangerous on the break, Kirkland getting down well to save from Cahill.

The opening goal when it came had a touch of Déjà vu about it.

Bramble was facing Kirkland as the last defender and instead of hacking the ball into touch tried to pass it back to his keeper.

He seemed to get entangled with his own feet allowing Johnson to scoot past him and bury the ball past Kirkland.

Two minutes later it was two nil, Wigan failed to man mark the ever dangerous Lescott at a set piece leaving him with a simple tap in.

From looking comfortable for 40 minutes with Valencia and Brown looking particularly sharp we were two nil down and looking dead and buried.

Wigan started the second half like they had had a right royal roasting at half time and quickly had Everton on the back foot.

Heskey who had been labouring all afternoon and is clearly not fit was substituted being replaced by Sibs, Koumas also coming on for Landzaat.

Would lightening strike twice and would Sibs score with his first touch?

Not quite but the set piece was expertly delivered by Koumas and the ball hit Jagielka and bobbled into the net.

This galvanised Wigan and they increased the pressure on Everton but the half chances created fell to Bent who snatched at all his shots not troubling Howard in the Everton net.

Valencia gave Hibbert a torrid afternoon but was left without support from the forward line who failed to get up in support which eventually cost us dear.

Aghahowa replaced the industrious Brown for the last ten minutes , Wigan changing to a 4-3-3 formation.

Was this going to be the moment when Julius demonstrated his famed backflip?

No Wigan seemed to lose the momentum they had and a claim for a penalty by the Wigan crowd was all we had to show for our pressure.

In the end Everton took their chances and we didn`t.

Whilst we showed enough to show we shouldn`t go down however the table shows us still fourth from bottom only out of the relegation places on goal difference.

Conclusion

We need a proven goal scorer.

Only ‘Boro and Derby have scored less goals than us.

As it stands we have one fit forward in Bent, two half fit forwards in Heskey and Sibs and Julius who hasn`t scored in 20 appearances for the Latics.

If we don`t buy one in the transfer window it may be a case of last game roulette and Man United at home is not the game you want to have to get points from

Player Ratings

Kirkland 7
A good save from Cahill, couldn`t be faulted for either goal.

Melchiot 7
Superb skills from super Mario, unlucky to be on the losing side.

Bramble 5.5
Played well but merits a low score as his mistake cost us the game. Should have learnt from his error against City.

Scharner 7
Played well, booted ball into touch when required (Titus please note)

Kilbane 5.5
Tries hard but too slow, will lose his place when Erdman is fit.

Landzaat 6
Seems to be SB`s fall guy, worked hard but created little

Michael Brown 8
His substitution saw the momentum go from the team. Covered every bit of mud today

Valencia 7
A constant threat but lack support from the forwards

Palacios 6.5
Looked good in the first half but faded after the break

Bent 5.5
Unlucky not to score in the first half but snatched at the ball several times when a good shot might have yielded a result.

Hasn`t formed an understanding with Heskey

Heskey 5
Unfit and looks a shadow of the player we raved about last season.

Should have done better with the chances he had. Needs to develop a partnership with Bent and re-discover his scoring touch if we are to stay up

Koumas 5.5
A couple of good set pieces but that was about it. Snatched at one shot.

Sibierski 5.5
Little chance to shine
Didn`t show anything to suggest he is the answer to our striker problems

Ref Watch
Mr. Probert 5

Some strange decisions, typified by the decision to not give advantage when Valencia broke after a foul on a Wigan player and the decision not to book Vaughan for a scything tackle on Bramble