Date: 4th October 2008 at 7:09pm
Written by: Baskerville

On a day which was dull and wet, compared to the bright sunshine of the City game,Latics who dominated the game, were made to pay after creating half chances but failing to take them.

Lee Cattermole was passed fit to play agaisnt his old club, Steve Bruce made one change bringing in Paul Scharener for Emerson Boyce.

Latics started the game in dominant fashion ,once again most of the creativity coming through the Melchiot/Valencia partnership.

Latics once again opted for a 4-5-1 formation when defending with Heskey dropping back into midfield and Palacios acting as the attacking midfielder.Palacios almost scored his first league goal for Wigan when Heskey flicked the ball onto him on the right.The angle was tight and with Turnbull narrowing down Palacios’ shooting options , Wilson shot for the far post only to see the ball narrowly pass the post.

Zaki and Heskey were working hard and look to have the basis for a profitable partnership. However the difference today is that they were both marked by committed, no nonsense defenders in Riggott and Wheater who had done their homework on the Wigan pair and restricted them to half chances for most of the afternoon.

Once again Latics looked sharp at set pieces and Zaki shot into the side netting from a Valencia free kick. Zaki also had a shot from a free kick but fired wide.

Latics were attempting to play a good passing game agaisnt a Boro side, with an 18 million pound strike force who seemed content to place 10 men behind the ball. When Latics did create space, on too many occasions they seemed to try and walk the ball into the goal or delay the final pass with Kapo being the most wasteful.

Boro’s most attacking outlet was Stewart Downing and a free kick was watched carefully by Kirkland as it fizzed over the bar. At the other end, Palacios once again tried to find his first goal for Wigan , however his shot was blocked.

Half time came with the score line nil apiece in a game that Latics had dominated in terms of possession and chances but had failed to seriously trouble Ross Turnbull in the Boro goal.

Boro started the second half with more purpose with Downing and Alliediere looking to stretch the Wigan defence. The game swung from end to end but failed to create the thrills engendered in last week’s game. Palacios once again looked most likely to score, first creating space for himself before firing over and then forcing Turnbull into a good save.

At then other end Boro gave a warning to Latics about vigilance when Kirkland had to be quick to save from Digard.

With the game looking like meandering to a nil all draw, Steve Brucs sought to inject fresh impetus into the Wigan attack by replacing the ineffective Kapo with Koumas. Koumas immeadatley showed his class laying off some superb balls and providing testing corners from which Bramble almost scored.

One brilliant run by Koumas which saw him run across the Boro defence ended with a lovely shot which was well saved again by Turnbull.

Zaki and the industrious Palacios were replaced by Camara and De Ridder. Whether this had a destabilsing effect on an otherwise secure midfield is open to question however Boro broke down the right, Downing steered the ball into Alliedire’s path and the Frenchman shot past the advancing Kirkland.

Latics poured forward in the four remaining minutes looking for an equiliser but the final whistle brought an end to a four match unbeaten run and a few posers for Steve Bruce on how to break down stubborn defences.

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland…8/10
Had little to do but was excellent when called upon but could do little to stop the goal

Mario Melchiot…7/10
An excellent partnership with Valencia

Maynor Figueroa…6.5/10
Naive on occasion at the back

Titus Bramble…8.5/10
Immense at the back, must have impressed the watching England manager

Paul Scharner…7/10
Worked hard

Lee Cattermole…7.5/10
A hard working performance against his old club. Not as effective after his booking

Luis Valencia….7.5/10
Once again an attacking threat, worked hard in defence as well

Olivier Kapo…6/10
Caused very few problems for the Boro defence

Emile Heskey…7/10
Worked hard but well marshalled by the Wheater /Riggott combination

Amr Zaki…7/10
As with Heskey,worked hard but well marshalled by the Wheater /Riggott combination

Wilson Palacios…8/10
Bsck to his best, his substitution may have proved costly in unsettling the midfield

Jason Koumas…7.5/10
A good cameo performance

Henri Camara…6.5/10
One half chance, not on the pitch long enough to be more effective
Showed nothing in the short time he was on the pitch to suggest he will be pressurising the starting wingers for a place anytime soon

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce…7/10

His side today struggled to break down a defensive Boro side and his decison to bring Palacios off could have proved costly.

Opponent Rating
Gareth Southgate…7/10

Did his homework on the Wigan strike force and had a game plan which worked. Will win few fans for his style of football outside Boro fans however

Martin Atkinson..7/10
A good unobstrusive game from the referee but 3 Wigan players in the book and none from Boro gives a flase impression