A mixed Wigan Athletic team was far too strong for a mediocre home side and the scoreline reflected the difference in class between the two sides.
Despite the importance of next week’s game at Reading, Roberto Martinez decided to risk putting in a handful of his first choice players. Latics started with a flat back four, with Arouna Kone in the lone centre forward role and Callum McManaman on the left wing. The central midfield players – Fyvie, McArthur, Espinoza and Gomez – were the key to dominating possession and putting Huddersfield under pressure from the get-go.
Despite a pitch churned up by a rugby match between teams from the same towns the previous day, Wigan were still able to display their usual brand of possession football. The directness and pace of Callum McManaman provided a cutting edge and he took his chance brilliantly when put through by James McArthur in the 31st minute. The young winger tormented the Terriers defence, particularly in the first hour. It was no surprise when Kone added a second after 40 minutes, after McManaman had put in a low cross for Gomez’s blocked shot. In the 56th minute he was to combine with James McArthur, for the Scot to hit the target with a screamer from the edge of the box.
Huddersfield’s main form of attack was to pump high balls into the box, but Wigan’s two tallest central defenders – Roman Golobart and Paul Scharner – held firm. However, the ploy worked when substitute Lee Novak managed to outjump Maynor Figueroa to put the home team back in the game after 62 minutes.
Arouna Kone’s opportunist goal in the closing minutes, following a defensive mix up from the home side, put extra gloss on the scoreline for Wigan.
This result means that Wigan Athletic have made the last eight of the FA Cup for the second time in their history. However, an away trip in the next round to Everton or Oldham, is not going to be easy, particularly if it is to Merseyside.
Roberto Martinez made a brave move by putting in a higher proportion of first team regulars than expected. He had to make a conscious decision whether to risk his mainline players with a key relegation match looming. However, the positive scoreline from this match will surely help boost morale at a key time within the club. The tactic of packing the midfield worked in this match.
Huddersfield’s churned-up pitch – a reminder of what can happen when you share a ground with the local rugby team.
Interestingly the attendance for the Giants-Warriors rugby encounter was 8,023 and that for the FA Cup match was 12,117.
Joel Robles: 6 – looked comfortable. Although he was rarely called into action, he made a good save early in the second half as Huddersfield threatened.
Ronnie Stam: 6 – one of his better games in an orthodox right back position. Has clearly been working hard on the defensive side of his game.
Roman Golobart: 7 – teamed up well with Scharner in the centre of defence.
Paul Scharner: 7 – calm and composed in the centre of defence.
Maynor Figueroa: 6 – captain for the day. Still clearly enjoys the left back position, which allows him the chance to go forward. Needs to work on challenging for aerial balls in the penalty box – it is not the first time this season he has been outjumped for a goal.
Fraser Fyvie: 7 – looked the part. Hardworking and did not waste the ball.
James McArthur: 8 – looked a class above his Huddersfield counterparts. His rocket shot for the third goal is one to be remembered.
Roger Espinoza: 6 –worked as hard as always, until taken off after 57 minutes.
Jordi Gomez: 6 – put in a useful stint, proving a link between midfield and attack.
Arouna Kone: 6 – worked hard as usual. His first goal was scored from an offside position, but he took his second goal well, blasting the ball past the keeper from just inside the box.
Callum McManaman: 8 – dangerous throughout. Took his goal really well and looked the part on the left wing. How much longer can he fail to make the starting lineup in the Premier League?
Shaun Maloney – a capable replacement for Espinoza early in the second half. Was his usual effervescent self, working hard, putting through nice passes.
Jean Beausejour – came on for Gomez after 74 minutes. Solid.
James McCarthy – came on in the last minute.