A last gasp winner by Maynor Figueroa gave Wigan a priceless win over fellow relegation threatened opponents Birmingham City at the DW Stadium, as The Latics won the tie 2-1. Liam Ridgewell had put the visitors ahead early on before Tom Cleverley regained parity for the hosts, and the game looked to be heading to a draw before Figueroa’s injury time heroics.
In a do or die game for Wigan, coach Roberto Martinez started with stiker Franco di Santo in place of injury doubt Hugo Rodallega, and Charles N’Zogbia was restored to the first team in favour of Mohamed Diame. Carling Cup winners Birmingham saw their injury worries ease, and Alex McLeish could recall Roger Johnson, Craig Gardner and Stephen Carr to his starting XI.
It was the visitors who took an early advantage when Liam Ridgewell converted after good work by Barry Ferguson and Martin Jiranek, who worked the ball to the defender. Ridgewell coolly finished to give the visitors the lead on six minutes with his fifth goal of the season.
Wigan looked to get the ball down and play football in the method that Martinez has asked his side to do, and they were duly rewarded on 25 minutes when a good move ended up in Cleverley finishing from close range to make it 1-1. Great vision from Ben Watson allowed N’Zogbia to cross, and City keeper Ben Foster couldn’t hold onto the Frenchman’s centre, with Man United loanee Cleverley in the right place to convert and square things up.
The remainder of the first period was scrappy with both teams struggling to keep the ball, and there were half chances at both ends, before Sebastian Larsson gave the home side a fright in first half stoppage time, as Birmingham’s Swedish winger struck a free kick from distance, for it only to hit the bar with Latics keeper Ali Al-Habsi stranded.
Both teams had excellent chances to take the lead in the second half, with firstly Birmingham’s Cameron Jerome squandering a one on one chance with Al Habsi, with the home keeper saving the strikers effort. Soon after good work by Victor Moses and N’Zogbia saw Figueroa have a shot from ten yards, but Foster made an excellent save with his feet to deny the home side.
Wigan pushed on and looked for a winner, and thought they had got it when subsitute Rodallega lofted the ball neatly over Foster but the goal was disallowed as the Colombian was adjudged to have fouled his marker Roger Johnson. However this didn’t end up mattering, as Figueroa popped up in injury time to fire home from the edge of the penalty area and send the home fans into ecstasy.
Wigan remain bottom after their win however they are up to 30 points and have closed the gap on their relegation rivals but Martinez’s men have tough ties against Chelsea and Tottenham coming up. Birmingham have been sucked back into the bottom three and alarm bells will be going off at St Andrews as they drop to 19th and are one point from safety.