After a very slow start to the game, there were no chances early on but a couple of good runs from Walker which both came to nothing.
Wigan scored after 10 minutes. Awful, awful defending, Walker ran through the cetnre, out of position and was dispossessed. The youngster leaves a gap at right back for Moses to feed N’Zogbia who finishes well. So, so bad from Villa. No options for Walker but naive again from the young defender.
Ashley Young equalised from a 25-yard free-kick after being fouled by Watson outside the box. His shot was well placed into the bottom right corner. Al-Habsi got fingertips but perhaps should have placed himself to do better.
Walker raced down the right again and found Downing in the box. His decent pull back alluded the Villa strikers before the attack fizzled out.
Heskey swiveled and shot on the volley but his effort was well stopped by Al-Habsi after Young had picked out Collins up from the back.
Reo-Coker was been superb in the first 25 minutes and continued his form with countless tackles to break up the play throughout the game.
Villa had all the possession and passed it to death, no attacking options led the ball to go back to Dunne whose long back pass went out for a corner.
Young tried his luck again from another free-kick. The angle was much tighter and Al-Habsi gathered easily.
What the hell Emile Heskey was doing around the half hour mark was beyond me! He got a yellow for dissent and was furious after some pretty innocuous challenges. Every Villa player had to pull him away. The striker was lucky not to be off in all honesty.
Young went down in the box after cutting inside two Wigan players. Replays showed he dived. Villa incensed, except Young who got up and chased to win the ball back, told the story.
Petrov shot from range after Heskey tackled well up front before Bent dispossessed the Wigan defender to tee off the skipper. His shot from the edge of the box was on target but easily saved.
Good Wigan build up found its way to N’Zogbia who beat Petrov and Luke Young to easily to dribble into the box before dragging his shot harmlessly wide.
James Collins then had to made an inch perfect sliding challenge to stop N’Zogbia in the box after Walker was again out of position.
Wigan had three chances in a scramble in the box after a corner, all blocked at the last but poor defending from peices again in the first instance. It’s zonal marking at its spectacular worst. Half time.
Woeful defending as ever in the first half, Wigan men in acres of space at times. Villa dominated possession but to little effect. Really lacking any creativity in the middle of the park. Reo-Coker probably Villa’s best so far. Petrov overrun alongside him and we’ve seen the best and worst of Kyle Walker throughout the half. His positional sense is dreadful but he attacks with great purpose.
Albrighton came on at half time and unsurprisingly replaced the crazed Heskey. Young moved in support of Bent up front.
Luke Young found his namesake Ashley down the left whose cross found its way back to the full back who airkicked a volley in the box before Downing blazed over. Downing then broke away from a Young pass and cut inside onto his right foot but his effort was blocked in the box.
Gaps opened again in the Villa defence on the left this time. Boyce pulled back for Moses in the box but he fired straight at Friedel.
The home side were completely out of ideas at Villa Park in the second half with Wigan dominating possession on the hour mark. Villa looked to be settling for a home draw against Wigan with no-one even close to Bent up front. A 45-yard strike from Richard Dunne told the story of a terrible second half!
Villa broke fast after Bent tackled back at Caldwell in his own half. Downign picked out Young who tried to find the run of the onrushing Bent but Al-Habsi did well to stop it reaching the England striker.
N’Zogbia was substituted for Di Santo in what was a relief to the home side as unsurprisingly, he was the best on the pitch for the visitors.
Downing blazed a right foot over from outside the box at one end after more great work from Reo-Coker before Rodallega fired inches wide at the other after a fantastic touch and turn after Di Santo had beaten Collins to a flick on. Great effort. Very close.
Bent raced through and had a one on one which he had to score, but didn’t, after a through ball from Young. Good save by Al-Habsi but the shot was pre-meditated.
James Collins had a header in injury time kept out by Alcaraz in front of his keeper before the ball was scrambled clear but that was that.
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Friedel – 6 – no real saves to make, very quiet afternoon
Kyle Walker – 5 – attacked well but was awful positionally and his error led to the goal
James Collins – 6 – quiet day for Collins with Dunne marking Rodallega for much of the game
Richard Dunne – 6 – up and down display but rarely significantly troubled
Luke Young – 6 – caught out on occasion but otherwise steady
Stewart Downing – 7 – bright going forward and tackled back well
Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – very little impact and overrun by young Wigan side
Nigel Reo-Coker – 9 – by far Villa’s best player, one of the performances of the season
Ashley Young – 7 – good free-kick and troubled at times but was not that involved
Emile Heskey – 5 – had a good turn and shot but went mental and could have been sent off
Darren Bent – 6 – worked hard up top but should have wrapped up the points at the death
Marc Albrighton – 6 – not the impact required, worked hard
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