Potters earn battling point
Potters hold firm in face of Wigan storm
By Steve Pass. Last Updated: 08/11/08 5:44pm
Stalemate: Ricardo Fuller and Emmerson Boyce do battle in the draw.
Stoke earned a valuable away point after holding Wigan to a goalless draw at the JJB Stadium on Saturday.
Chances were few and far between in the first half, with Wigan reduced to long-range efforts from Wilson Palacios, Antonio Valencia and Amr Zaki, while Mamady Sidibe forced Chris Kirkland to save with his legs with a header from a Danny Higginbotham cross at the other end, although the ref blew for a foul.
After the restart, Wigan played much better and Emile Heskey and substitute Henri Camara went close with headers, while Palacios drew a save from Thomas Sorensen at his near post.
Zaki then put a free header over from a corner before heading over again from a Maynor Figueroa cross from the left.
Sorensen then had to pull off a fantastic double save from Palacios and Titus Bramble before also saving a powerful Jason Koumas effort late on as the Latics could not make their dominance pay dividends.
Wigan captain Mario Melchiot had recovered from a virus which enabled boss Steve Bruce to name an unchanged side.
Despite a fine win on their travels at Portsmouth last week, Bruce's men had taken just four points from five games at the JJB Stadium this season and fallen to fourth bottom of the table.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis was also able to name the same team that secured their famous victory over Arsenal as his side sought to increase Wigan's home woes and book their first top-flight away win since 1984.
Palacios had the first chance for the home side in front of the massed ranks of travelling fans in the fifth minute when he played a neat one-two with Zaki on the edge of the Stoke box but shot wide.
At the other end, a piece of cool-headed defending by Emmerson Boyce denied Ricardo Fuller a run on goal after Sidibe had launched a swift counter-attack.
Ryan Shawcross was the first man in referee Mike Riley's book for hacking down Heskey on the left in the 10th minute before Rory Delap failed to take advantage from his free-kick in a dangerous position.
Delap flung his first long throw of the afternoon into the Wigan box in the 15th minute but Chris Kirkland got up well to punch away under pressure from Shawcross.
Sidibe's header clattered the legs of Kirkland from a Higginbotham cross, but the striker was penalised for clambering over the back of Figueroa in the Latics' box.
Moments later at the other end, Valencia fired a low shot straight at Sorensen from long range - but clear chances were at a premium in what was proving a flat encounter.
The inadequacy of the affair was summed up five minutes before the break when Melchiot was pulled up for a foul throw, much to the amusement of the Stoke fans behind the goal.
Zaki tried a long-range effort in first-half injury-time which sailed harmlessly into the arms of Sorensen, and the half-time whistle brought respite for all concerned.
Stoke's hopes suffered a blow when Sidibe had to be helped off the field two minutes into the second half, but Pulis reacted immediately by replacing him with fellow frontman Dave Kitson.
Wigan began to show a little more purpose, Palacios making space in the left channel but sending in a cross which ran just the wrong side of the lurking Zaki in the box.
The visitors summoned their first shot on target in the 55th minute when Seyi Olofinjana dipped in a cross from wide on the right - which Shawcross reached with a firm header, held by Kirkland.
Two minutes later, Heskey sent a low header inches wide of Sorensen's left-hand post from a Valencia cross - in his last act before limping off the pitch to be replaced by Camara.
Camara almost made an immediate impression, glancing a header from a Valencia cross which was tipped behind by Sorensen - and from the resulting corner, Palacios drove a shot into the goalkeeper's body.
Fuller was booked on the hour for a rash challenge on Melchiot as tempers threatened to fray, before Zaki directed a close-range header from a Koumas cross well over the bar.
Tempers flared again in the 72nd minute - but this time between team-mates, as Amdy Faye squared up to Kitson after he had given the ball away in a dangerous position and had to be calmed by fellow players.
Sorensen was then called into action to make a fine double save, first denying Palacios from a tight angle and then punching away the second effort from Bramble on the edge of the box.
Wigan piled on the pressure in the final minutes, Sorensen making a low save to deny Koumas from long range and Higginbotham getting his body in the way of a drive from Melchiot.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Stoke City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||1|
|7||Shots off Target||1|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|