The Latics were pegged back twice, as they had to make do with a share of the points, in an entertaining encounter on Saturday afternoon.
Fans will have left the DW stadium wondering what might have been, despite having witnessed the teams strongest performance of the season, the search for the first home victory of the campaign goes on.
|Franco Di Santo|
Roberto Martinez decided to field Franco Di Santo in his starting XI, replacing Jordi Gomez, and his side put in a dominant display in a cracking opening half.
The opening goal came as a result of fantastic work from Shaun Maloney who was back to his imperious best and was at the heart of everything going forward. After beating Seamus Coleman his cross was met by Arouna Kone who managed to beat Tim Howard from an acute angle.
No sooner had the play re started the visitors had levelled up with their first move forward. Nikica Jelavic was on the end of Steven Pienaar’s attempted shot showed why he is regarded as one the deadliest finishers around.
Despite the set back the Latics refused to get down and continued to dominate for large periods of the first half and re took the lead thanks to some fantastic work from the tremendous Kone.
His raw pace did for Johnny Heitinga as he latched onto Gary Caldwell’s pinpoint long ball and despite looking as if he was going no where, was able to square the ball back for Di Santo to smash home.
The Argentine almost added a third, moments later, as his smart attempt was kept out by Tim Howard.
Ali Al Habsi was on hand to ensure that the Latics headed into the break ahead, and they begun the second half on the front foot.
There was a lot of needle in the middle of park as both midfields looked to impose themselves on the game. The referee Kevin Friend did not allow for the game to flow and was unable to stamp his authority on the game with a number of strange decisions.
As the game wore on the Latics invited the visitors onto them and were reliant on hitting them on the counter. Unfortunately they were made to pay for this with only five minutes to play, as Maynor Figueroa brought down Kevin Mirallas.
Former Latic Leighton Baines emphatically beat Al Habsi from the spot to secure a share of the spoils for his team.
But the Latics’ could well have secured all three points late on as Kone and Maloney linked up once again, with the Scottish international’s strike taking a deflection just over the cross bar.
Despite the feeling of having dropped two points it was certainly an encouraging performance from
men as they more than matched one of the form teams of the early season.
Up next is a trip to
after the international break and Martinez
will be keen to see his international’s return without any injuries, as he prepares his side for a crucial run.