Disappointment at the DW
By Rob Nichols
Sunday 03 Mar 2019 11:11:00
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It was stalemate at the DW Stadium as Boro failed to overcome a resolute Wigan side who also caused us a few problems along the way. Britt Assombalonga somehow missed the target with a seemingly open goal gaping. But after the match I heard home fans talking about how it seemed their team were settling for a point.

Despite them being on top for sections of the game Wigan did look much the happier with the draw. I suppose you should not underestimate any team on their own patch and whilst disappointed with the draw it was not a defeat. I am not sure that we should go over the top being hyper critical, above all at this point in the campaign we need to keep up the mood and belief. Make sure we win at home against Brentford.

The 0-0 draw at Wigan probably bursts the bubble of all those still harbouring hopes of automatic promotion. The momentum that we were building encouraged thousands to make the trip over the Pennines to support the team in red. It was great to see and shows the potential when everyone is given reason to believe.

Tony Pulis fielded the unchanged side we all wanted, the set-up that had blown away QPR. But this time round John Obi Mikel did not completely boss the show and Wigan's fleet of foot attack and hard working, hard tackling midfield posed plenty of problems, particularly in the first half.

Having said that, Jonny Howson sped out of the blocks down the right flank giving Wigan an early fright. Fletcher was also full of running and was found clear on the left but he was challenged just as he was about to pull the trigger. The forward appealed in vain for a penalty. It was a long way away for the away fans to tell.

What we could see was Britt Assombalonga get on the end of a sweeping move. He seemed to be almost on the goal-line and about to tap home but somehow got his angles wrong and passed it straight across the goal. I am not sure just how close in he was but Tony Pulis held his head in his hands as did most in the packed away end. What a miss!

Wigan battled and became more and more of a threat. Ayala was booked after the ref missed the tug on him but instead penalised his own pull. Wigan were almost away and past our last man. There were tricky moments for others, Ryan Shotton was almost caught out as last man in the middle after a misplaced Besic pass.

As for Besic he drew a full length save from their keeper before half time. Earlier in the half the Everton man caused mayhem when he dribbled along the line towards goal. It was another in and out performance from the loan player who once again did not see much longer than an hour on the pitch.

But generally we struggled with our deadballs. Whether it was the gusting, freezing wind or not we couldn't get our range right from the countless corner kicks we won in both halves. The only set-pieces that nearly threatened were short corners pulled back to a runner, or a carefully choreographed free kick routine that almost led to the shot finding the mark under the wall.

The second period continued to be scrappy and a close affair. Either team might have made the all important break through and surely one goal would have settled it. Gradually Boro's need seemed to lead to us taking the initiative and their goalkeeper wasting time.

A clever reverse ball from the ever-inventive Wing bisected their defence but just eluded Fletcher. That was the pattern of nearly passes. Fletcher twice hit the side netting when trying to cut the ball back from a tight angle, one of those times he skipped past the keeper but ran out of pitch and angle.

With time running out, first Downing, then Hugill and Tavernier were brought on to add ideas and energy. But the pattern continued of just failing with the accuracy of the final ball or the strikers being smothered by the defenders.

In the end, we could have few complaints about the draw. A big disappointment that our old failing of not being able to find the net surfaced again. I think we all expect to win away from home but in reality this league is pretty tight isn't it. Three wins on the trot would have been so good and bred so much positivity. But sadly not to be.

Results elsewhere meant we probably strengthened our position in the play offs. As Tony Pulis said last week, there are still an awful lot of games left, 12 in fact. That is a lot of points to win or lose. I think after Blackburn and QPR we all maybe got a bit guilty of looking too far ahead. The fixtures seemed to be opening up for us. It is really disappointing to blow the chance of another win but surely the bottom line is we didn't lose and we must make sure we win the next game. Simplistic perhaps but that is all we can concentrate on now, beating Brentford.

Up The Boro

Wigan Athletic 0-0 Middlesbrough



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