Monday, 3 February 2014

Wigan Athletic 2 v 1 Charlton Athletic

Saturday 1st February 2014
Football League Championship
DW Stadium, Wigan
Admission: £15.00
Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 14,341
Match Rating: 3

A first ever visit to the DW Stadium was on my shortlist for a Charlton awayday as soon as this season's fixtures were released, and was confirmed once I realised Wigan's refreshingly excellent pricing policy for this game - although no real surprise given that Dave Whelan is the chairman - and reasonably priced train tickets booked way back in November.

The DW Stadium is about a 20 minute walk westwards from Wigan North Western rail station, via a not particularly pleasant stroll through industrial estates, scrap yards and waste land. On arrival at the ground, it proved to be an unremarkable modern stadium, although it is very neat and tidy. All stands have similar designs, single-tiered with a curved roof, and a fairly steep incline between seating rows ensure perfect unobstructed views. The 84 page programme, with a glossy and hardened cover, was fairly standard fare for this level. Very professionally produced, it had plenty of articles but seemed to lack enough to retain one's interest.

It is fair to say the current situation for Charlton is uncertain and precarious. Having fallen into the relegation zone following a 3-0 defeat at Doncaster on Thuesday, Charlton sold their talisman, Yann Kermorgant, and their most creative midfielder, Dale Stephens as they neared the end of their contracts, replacing them with unknown quantities from abroad who have not played football in England before. Time will tell if these were shrewd or suicidal dealings come May. Charlton were in 22nd place with 24 points from 26 games, two points adrift of safety. Wigan haven't had a great season either following their relegation from the Premiership, having sacked Owen Coyle and replaced him with Uwe Rosler. They have gained 37 points from 26 games and are in eleventh place, seven points adrift from the play-off places. History didn't favour Charlton getting a result - they had not won at the DW Stadium in two previous visits. Earlier in the season, the two teams played out an entertaining goalless draw at the Valley.

On a cold afternoon with drizzle soon arriving after kick-off, the match had an explosive start, with Charlton taking the lead in the third minute. Johnnie Jackson threaded a ball through the defence for Marvin Sordell to run onto, before cooly slotting past the keeper. The home side pressed hard to get back on level terms, although Charlton had the clearest chance to score again, when Reza Ghoochannjhad, the Iranian making his debut today, saw his long range shot saved by the keeper, and soon after, he hit a fantastic volley from thea slight angle at the edge of the area that hit the crossbar. Sordell had a good chance to score again but in a similar situation to the one where he scored, this time he tried to take the ball around the keeper, who this time smothered the ball. Wigan hit the woodwork twice before half time, but it was the visitors who retained their slender lead.

Within a couple of minutes of the restart, it seemed that Wigan had got back on level terms, when Nicky Maynard poked the ball home via a deflection off a defender following a scramble in the penalty area, but the goal was eventually ruled out for offside after the referee consulted with his assistant. It appeared that Charlton "got away "with that one. That set the tone for the second half though, as Wigan launched countless attacks and almost all of the play was in Wigan's attacking half. Charlton defended well, although they also rode their luck at times with some desperate clearances and tackles. It seemed that the visitors would somehow hold out for a heroic away win, but eventually it was all three substitutes who turned the game on its head. With just a minute of normal time left, sub Josh McEachran sliced a pass through the defence and into the path of fellow sub Marc Antoine Fortune, who poked the ball gently into the corner of the net. Charlton would surely have taken a point before the game however it turned out they would not even get that. Another sub, Jordi Gomez, was brought down on the edge of the box, and from the resultant free-kick, Gomez curled a free kick low around the defensive wall to the opposite side the keeper was guarding and into the net. Although defeat under such circumstances was incredibly harsh on Charlton, it would have been even harsher on Wigan, who attacked relentlessly in the second half in particular.

Video highlights of this game can be found at

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