REPORT: WIGAN 1, SPURS 1
Dimitar Berbatov matched his goals tally of last season with a clinical finish in the 1-1 draw against Wigan on Saturday.
Dimitar Berbatov matched his goals tally of last season with a clinical finish in the 1-1 draw against Wigan on Saturday.On a blustery afternoon in the north west the Bulgarian slotted us into the lead but it was one that could not be maintained and a third draw in a row was recorded after Emile Heskey's first half leveller.
In truth, Wigan created more and better openings in the second half and looked most likely to score, but a draw it remained.
The JJB Stadium was far from full but, behind the goal protected by Radek Cerny in the first half, the Spurs thousands were out in force again and there was a gasp in the opening seconds when Robbie Keane squeezed into the area and gave Chris Kirkland an early feel of the ball.
Just five minutes were on the clock when a sublime ball from Tom Huddlestone set Aaron Lennon speeding away down the right. He managed a precise delivery and, after a little flick off a defensive head, Berbatov stole in to steer beyond Kirkland for his 23rd goal of the season - matching last term's tally.
Marcus Bent then warmed Cerny's hands for the first time in the afternoon, but he was soon to be picking the ball out of his net. Heskey shrugged off the attentions of Didier Zokora before shooting on the turn and beating the Czech low to his left.
Wigan warmed to their task, marshalled by Michael Brown snapping at yellow heels all over the park, but the quality was coming from those on unfamiliar, not to mention patchy, turf.
Wilson Palacios attempted to capitalise on Jermaine Jenas' loss of possession just after the half hour mark and unleashed a swerver that Cerny only managed to grab at the second attempt. Berbatov was flattened in the area by Mario Melchiot in an incident referee Mr Probert mustn't have seen otherwise Kirkland would have been in the firing line from 12 yards.
Steed Malbranque and Berbatov both came close to restoring the advantage before a Michael Dawson header from close range was cleared off the line by Ryan Taylor.
Wigan were quicker out of the blocks at the beginning of the second half, a Taylor free-kick being well charged down by the wall before Alan Hutton did well to muscle the same player out of a clear route on a goal. At the other end the advancing Kirkland did particular well in foiling Lennon's shot after the wide man had sneaked into the right hand side of the penalty area.
A drilled Berbatov ball came close to setting Keane free, but the Wigan Bent did find himself in the clear moments later and rattled his effort off the underside of the crossbar after our defences were dissected with ease down the left side.
The home team were cranking up the pressure ahead of Jenas working himself a shooting chance after some neat approach play, but his shot under pressure went high. Cerny was forced into a block from Heskey after a cross from Antonio Valencia, which was followed by the introduction of Darren Bent in place of Keane.
Heskey was removed from the equation due to injury and Antoine Sibierski took to the field and was straight in the thick of it with a volleying chance that got the crowd excited but came closer to disturbing the corner flag.