Memorable Matches: Wigan Athletic 2-3 Swansea City (May 2013)

Goalscorers: Roger Espinoza 45, Angel Rangel 49, James McCarthy 52, Itay Shechter 58, Dwight Tiendalli 75

Teams:

Wigan Athletic: Joel Robles, Emmerson Boyce (Ronnie Stam 86), Paul Scharner, Gary Caldwell, Roger Espinoza, James McArthur, James McCarthy, Ben Watson, Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman (Franco di Santo 64), Arouna Kone

Swansea City: Michel Vorm (Gerhard Tremmel 85), Angel Rangel, Ben Davies, Ashley Williams, Garry Monk, Dwight Tiendalli, Wayne Routledge, Leon Britton, Pablo Hernandez (Kemy Agustein 77), Jonathan de Guzman, Itay Shechter (Nathan Dyer 69)

Referee: Kevin Friend, Attendance: 18,850

They might have been gearing up for an upcoming FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium against Manchester City but Premier League survival was at stake for Wigan Athletic when they entertained Swansea City in a midweek match towards the end of the 2012-2013 season.

Wigan made three changes to the team that had won a five-goal thriller against West Bromwich Albion a few days earlier with skipper Gary Caldwell returning to the side.

Swansea were having a great season. The League Cup was already in their trophy cabinet and Michael Laudrup’s side were looking good for a top 10 finish. They started well with Wayne Routledge pouncing on a misplaced pass by stand-in left-back Roger Espinoza. Only the reflexes of Joel Robles spared Espinoza’s blushes. The visitors’ were missing their top goalscorer Michu, who was being rested with a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon at the weekend.

As the first half wore on, Wigan grew into the game and Roberto Martinez’s side grabbed a priceless lead right on the stroke of half-time. Ben Watson’s cross into the box wasn’t dealt with cleanly by Michel Vorm. The Dutchman’s punch only fell to Espinoza, who drove the ball home to open the scoring. What a great time it was for Espinoza to score his first goal for the club.

Swansea increased the pressure after the restart and quickly levelled the match. Routledge’s wonderfully measured cross found Angel Rangel and the full-back finished like a forward, with his crisp shot going into the net off the post. Wigan needed to respond quickly to this setback and they did. Just three minutes later, they were back infront. Caldwell’s pass found James McCarthy who broke from midfield. He just beat Ashley Williams to the decisive final contact and his shot was placed nicely out of Vorm’s reach. Wigan were back ahead.

Defensive errors though had cost Martinez’s side all season and they didn’t stop here. A sloppy pass from Caldwell in the 58th minute allowed Pablo Hernandez to pick out Itay Shechter. His shot took a deflection off the unfortunate Emmerson Boyce to beat Robles and make it 2-2. There always looked like a winner would emerge and it would be a devastating blow for the home side. With 15 minutes remaining, Shaun Maloney and James McArthur got in each other’s way at the back post. With neither taking decisive action, Dwight Tiendalli was in the right position to punish Wigan. His goal sealed the three points for Michael Laudrup’s team.

Wigan did enjoy an unbelievable day at Wembley to stun Manchester City and win the FA Cup final but were relegated the following Tuesday at Arsenal. This defeat was the crucial blow in their fight to survive.

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