How can a team that had more than matched the opposition fall apart as Latics did in this game? The capitulation in the second half brought back memories of 8-0 and 9-1 defeats in the Premier League days. Admittedly Latics did not concede a panful of goals, against a very ordinary Bolton side. But the way they played after Bolton scored their first goal was reminiscent of those debacles of the past.
Wigan had played well in the first half and were unlucky not to be ahead. Callum McManaman had hit both the crossbar and the post, they went close with other good efforts and had withstood the physical barrage of the opposition.
Uwe Rosler put out a well balanced team this time. James Perch moved across to right back to accommodate the return of Leon Barnett in the centre of defence. Emyr Huws returned in place of Don Cowie to form a useful-looking central midfield trio with Adam Forshaw and Roger Espinoza. Shaun Maloney and Callum were brought in to play wide with Marc-Antoine Fortune returning at centre forward.
Latics dominated the first quarter if the game, their high pressing leading to the home team struggling to retain possession. McManaman was making mincemeat out of Bolton right back Vela and he put in a superb left wing cross for Maloney to volley just wide. Then after cutting in from the left he hit a superb effort from 25 yards that scraped the top of the crossbar. Espinoza found himself free in the box but his claims for a penalty were brushed aside as he went down. McManaman once again found space but goalkeeper Lonergan blocked his shot.
Bolton came back into the game and Max Clayton evaded the marking of Rob Kiernan only for Scott Carson to make a fine save from his angled shot. Latics were under more pressure now but the defence was holding firm. Espinoza had a chance to put Latics ahead from Fortune’s pass but the ball was on his weaker right side and the chance went begging. McManaman’s shot hit the post and Espinoza shot wide.
One wondered if Latics could maintain their intensity in the second half. Sadly that was not to be. In the 50th minute Clayton was put free on the left of Carson’s goal and his shot somehow passed through the goalkeeper who had not made himself look big. That goal changed the whole tone of the game. Latics looked wobbly and Bolton got another five minutes later. A high cross from the right seemed to take an eternity to arrive, but when it did there was no sign of either of Wigan’s centre backs as Bolton centre forward Craig Davies headed home.
Rosler made a double substitution after 58 minutes with James McClean coming on from Maloney and Chris McCann for Huws. A couple of minutes later Barnett wrestled Matt Mills to the ground in the box, almost in front of the referee. Lee Chung-Yong easily beat Carson from the penalty with shot through the middle.
Latics had fallen apart. William Kvist came on for Forshaw after 69 minutes, but none of the substitutions had made a difference. Latics had simply fallen apart. Somehow in the 79th minute they got a goal with a rocket shot from McManaman from McClean’s cross, but more goals were not likely to come from a side looking desperately low on confidence.
A limited Bolton side had won on grit and determination against a Wigan team with enough talent to have beaten them.
McManaman was back to form and with luck could have had a hat trick. But once again he did not see enough of the ball. Fortune did well, especially in the first half. His hold-up play was excellent despite the presence of two powerful Bolton centre halves.
Following his cameo appearance at Brighton, Chris McCann was brought on earlier this time, after 58 minutes. Latics are going to need him back to his best if they are to reverse this awful sequence of results.
Wigan Today quotes Rosler as saying ““We gave up in the second half and I felt embarrassed. I’m not sure it meant as much to some of my players as it meant for our supporters and our chairman. In any competitive game of football, you never give up, you always fight to the end. To give up at Bolton, in a derby game? It’s unforgivable.”
One wonders what might have happened if one of those Wigan chances in the first half had gone in. They could have gone on to win the game. But the reality was that they did not go in and the confidence drained out of Latics with Bolton’s first goal.
The fan forums and social media are awash with demands that the manager be sacked. Dave Whelan was at the game and would surely have been furious to see his highly paid professionals being taken apart by a team lying second from bottom.
Somehow the negative streak has to be reversed. The big question is whether Rosler is able to accomplish that change.
Scott Carson: 5 – it was sad to see him beaten by Clayton’s shot. He has been Latics’ best performer this season.
James Perch: 5 –looked rusty, misplacing passes and not tacking with his usual verve.
Leon Barnett: 4 – fell apart in the second half, although he made some good interventions in the first.
Rob Kiernan: 4 – poor. Lacked the physical presence needed in a game of this type.
Maynor Figueroa: 5 – not at his best.
Adam Forshaw: 5 – started well but faded.
Roger Espinoza: 5 – lively in the first half but faded.
Emyr Huws: 4 – poor. Substituted after 58 minutes.
Shaun Maloney: 5 – lively early on. Substituted after 58 minutes.
Marc-Antoine Fortune: 7 – worked hard in the lone centre forward role.
Callum McManaman: 7 – not involved enough, but dangerous when he had the ball. His goal was superbly taken and he was unlucky in hitting the woodwork twice.
James McClean: – his cross led to Wigan’s goal.
Chris McCann: – it will take him time to get match fit.
William Kvist: – brought in from the cold. Why has he been left out over recent weeks?