Latics came from two goals down with a scintillating second half performance to grab a share of the spoils at the Britannia Stadium, in a turn-around inspired by both James McArthur and Roger Espinoza, Latics slick passing left a hoof and hope style Stoke shell shocked at the final whistle and a chorus of boos around the Britannia was music to the ears of the away players
A pretty dour first half saw both sides struggle to get to grips with the game, but it was Stoke who found themselves in front under very fortunate circumstances on 23 minutes.
Using their usual tactic of dropping to the floor when challenged in and around the penalty box Stoke were awarded a free kick for the most innocuous of challenges, Charlie Adam hit a poor ball into the box which Jean Beausejour had no problems heading clear, except for the fact that it hit James McCarthy on the back of the head and looped back into the area. Ryan Shawcross was standing on the edge of the six yard box and swivelled to hit a half volley into the back of the net, 1-0
James McArthur almost equalised close to half-time, Jean Beausejour found space on the left and hit a thunderous cross into the Stoke area, McArthur steaming in, caught the ball first time with a great effort that flew narrowly wide of the near post
Latics were forced to make a change seconds before the half-time whistle when Emmerson Boyce tweaked his hamstring for the second league game in a row, Ronnie Stam coming on to replace him
Three minutes into the second half and it appeared that Stoke had put the game to bed, Charlie Adam was allowed to run from the half-way line with the ball at his feet, he hit a crisp, low drive from 25 yards that Al Habsi got down to but only managed to push the ball in the direction of the incoming Peter Crouch, the lanky striker made no mistake from 8 yards, 2-0
This goal was virtually the end of Stokes involvement as an attacking threat, the Latics appeared to step up a gear and dominate the rest of the game, within two minutes James McArthur had scored a great goal, latching onto a great defence splitting ball from the energetic Espinoza, the Scotland international hit a first time effort with the outside of his right foot around the advancing Begovic from 18 yards, 1-2
Latics were now in top gear, lovely passing moves had the Stoke players chasing shadows as the ball was knocked confidently between the Latics players as they stretched their opponents all over the park.
It was no surprise when on 61 minutes Franco Di Santo blasted home the equaliser. Espinoza knocked over a great cross to James McArthur who headed the ball inside to Di Santo, the Argentina international smashed a beauty into the bottom corner from 10 yards, 2-2
Latics looked the most likely side to win the game in the final 30 minutes, McArthur, Maloney, Di Santo and Figueroa all had chances, Begovic pulled off a couple of good saves, but the winning goal couldn’t be found
A great second half performance, some impressive possession and passing stats, the start of the revival? Let’s hope so
Almost forgot, special mention to Roman Golobart making his first ever Premier League start, looked class, well done big man
Stoke Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Whitehead, Whelan, Nzonzi (Wilkinson 68), Adam (Jerome 66), Etherington, Walters, Crouch (Jones 86)
Subs not used Sorensen, Owen, Upson, Shotton.
Latics Al Habsi; Boyce (Stam 45), Golobart, Caldwell, Figueroa, Beausejour (McManaman 83), McCarthy, McArthur, Espinoza, Di Santo, Maloney
Subs not used Joel, Mustoe, Gomez, D.Jones, Henriquez