Hot-Rod Latics stay up
Rodallega nets winner at Britannia as Wigan survive
Last Updated: 22/05/11 6:40pm
Rodallega: Is congratulated by team-mates...
Hugo Rodallega headed a late winner at the Britannia Stadium as Wigan beat Stoke 1-0 to stay up.
The Latics went into the game second-from-bottom in the table and had to withstand heavy pressure from the Potters in the first period, with Emmerson Boyce clearing off the line.
But Roberto Martinez's side improved after the break and Rodallega got the vital goal from a Charles N'Zogbia cross with 12 minutes remaining as the Latics stayed up and Blackpool and Birmingham both lost to go down.
The visitors' dramatic survival was in sharp contrast to a dismal first-half display, with Wigan looking nervy from the first minute when Ali Al Habsi had to save from Kenwyne Jones.
Despite looking distinctly dodgy when dealing with set-plays, Al Habsi would play a big part in keeping his side in with a chance during a torrid first half.
The visitors never came close to threatening Asmir Begovic's goal and it was the home side who pressed forward with the purpose of a side most concerned about the outcome.
Maynor Figueroa had to boot clear from deep in his own six-yard box before Wigan had a half-chance on 10 minutes, Mohamed Diame firing wide from long range.
Stoke had the ball in the net in the 11th minute when Jones' header from a Rory Delap long throw was helped in by Jonathan Walters, who was well offside.
These were worrying times for the visitors, with Stoke dominating possession and Al Habsi looking far from comfortable when called to deal with Delap's long throws.
Stoke came even closer on 14 minutes when Jones prodded goalwards from another Delap throw and, with Al Habsi nowhere, Boyce booted clear off the line.
Al Habsi redeemed himself with a fine stop from a Jones drive in the 25th minute, but with Jermaine Pennant and Delap both continuing to fling crosses towards Jones, Wigan were struggling to get a grip.
Pennant dispossessed Diame and sparked a move also involving Walters which ended in Pennant striking a rising shot straight at Al Habsi from the edge of the box.
Wigan looked brighter at the start of the second period, Diame wriggling through the Stoke rearguard and fashioning a shooting chance before being ruled offside.
Then an errant pass by Marc Wilson looked like letting in Rodallega 25 yards from goal only for Ryan Shawcross to get in with a crucial block.
Wigan striker Conor Sammon had his first chance in the 62nd minute when he turned on the edge of the box and fired a low left-foot shot which was gathered by Begovic.
But Martinez sought to add new impetus to his strike-force in the 67th minute when he replaced the largely disappointing Sammon with Tom Cleverley.
Cleverley had Wigan's best chance with his first touch when he was sent through at a tight angle by N'Zogbia but could only hit a low shot straight at Begovic who spread himself well.
Soon afterwards at the other end, Antolin Alcaraz climbed all over Jones in the box but the Stoke striker did not get a penalty.
The afternoon then got much better for Wigan as Manchester United's third goal against Blackpool shunted the visitors towards safety for the first time and Rodallega ensured they took another giant stride with his superb finish with 12 minutes remaining.
The visiting fans, who had been virtually silent for long swathes of the afternoon, celebrated with Latics backroom staff but the game was far from over.
Urged on by boss Tony Pulis on the touchline, Stoke pushed for an equaliser with Whelan floating a free-kick inches over Al Habsi's bar.Five minutes of added time - including a loud penalty shout by substitute Dean Whitehead - did nothing to settle Wigan nerves before the whistle ensured the celebrations could begin.
|Stoke City||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||2|
Barclays Premier League
Sun 22nd May
Bolton0 - 2Man City
Stoke0 - 1Wigan
Man Utd4 - 2Blackpool
West Ham0 - 3S'land
Newcastle3 - 3W Brom
A Villa1 - 0Liverpool
Fulham2 - 2Arsenal
Everton1 - 0Chelsea
Tottenham2 - 1Birm'ham
Wolves2 - 3Blackburn
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Ham United||28||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||28||30|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||27||22|