Ben Watson’s winner at Cardiff takes FA Cup holders Wigan into last eight
WIGAN are quietly working their way back to Wembley, but while a successful FA Cup defence would be even more remarkable than last year’s triumph, manager Uwe Rosler’s mind is elsewhere.
Rosler took over a Wigan side whose season was in danger of drifting away into nothing but now the German is having to find a way of balancing assaults on both league and cup.
Victory over Premier League Cardiff City leaves them just one game away from a return to Wembley but the bigger picture remains their position in the Championship.
Ninth in the table but only four points off the play-offs, a return to the Premier League is now a possibility – perhaps passing Cardiff on the way – any Rosler is not giving up on either.
“We’re taking it all game by game,” he said. “I’m very happy about the performance and application. Our supporters travelled in big numbers and we wanted to make them proud.
“I want to compete against the best sides in the country and we stood our own ground very well. We’re now in the last eight, but from this second until 7.45pm on Tuesday, we concentrate on the Barnsley game which is a big fixture.
“But my players were fantastic and showed quality and willpower, even at times when it got tough and I’m delighted to work with this group.”
Wigan led on 18 minutes when Jordi Gomez did well to beat Cardiff weak link Kevin Theophile-Catherine. He then put in an inch-perfect low cross for Chris McCann to hammer home.
The advantage lasted for just nine minutes. Mats Moller Daehli and Wilfried Zaha combined with trickery before Fraizer Campbell blasted a classic centre-forwards’ goal, low into the left hand corner from just outside the penalty area.
What turned out to be the winner came five minutes before the interval when Ben Watson made no mistake from a freekick, shooting past a leaky Cardiff wall after Gomez created with a quick tap. After that, despite the home side having 64 per cent possession and more than double the amount of shots on goal compared to the Latics, the holders defended well and deserve their place in the last eight.
“I felt the first goal was fantastic,” Rosler added.
“The game-plan was to play possession football, keeping the ball as long as we can and making sure we took the tempo out of the game. Collectively we did that.
“But my head is already spinning for Tuesday, who’s available, who’s not and what we need to do before Tuesday to get legs running again.”
Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was naturally down-beat following his side’s performance and knows that they didn’t do enough to win the game, despite having enough opportunities.
“It was a very disappointing result for us and we didn’t start well,” he said.“We weren’t bright enough for the first 20 to 25 minutes.
“Wigan are a good side, they’re Cup holders and they play good football. They’ve probably more Premier League experience than we have.
“But if you don’t take chances you don’t win games. It was a poor first goal to concede and it was a wonder strike for the second goal – you can’t blame David Marshall for either.
“We thought we had a chance. We were at home in the FA Cup for the first time in three years.
“We now have to work hard to ensure Premier League survival, not feel sorry for ourselves and carry on.
“We have to pick ourselves up and go out in our remaining games and play with no fear.”
HANDY: Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi saves from Cardiff’s Juan Cala
ELEMENTARY: Ben Watson celebrates his goal
STAR MAN CHRIS MCCAN N Wigan