- Match reports
- Sat 01 Mar 2008, 12:00AM
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
City were unable to break down a Wigan side happy to soak up pressure and try their luck on the break. Benjani had the best chance in the second half but volleyed wide, while Joe Hart’s fine save from Palacios late on preserved the status quo.
Pre match news
Michael Johnson was back in the starting line and made his first appearance since December's Carling Cup defeat to Tottenham.
Elsewhere on the teamsheet Vedran Corluka replaced the injured Micah Richards and Elano came in for Hamann to make it three changes from Monday's home defeat to Everton.
After a bright start by both sides, Darius Vassell had the first chance of the game after six minutes, forcing Kirkland into a good save with a header from an excellent Michael Ball cross.
Palacios fluffed his lines on 14 minutes after fine work down the right flank by Valencia, the midfielder’s terrible first touch allowing Joe Hart to smother what should have been a shooting opportunity. A minute later Emmerson Boyce was free at a free kick but also could not make the most of his chance as City looked uncertain at the back.
City’s first corner came after 24 minutes, and from the second just afterwards a rebound fell to Stephen Ireland outside the box. With the crowd urging him to shoot, the Irishman bent his effort just past the corner of post and bar past a static Kirkland.
Michael Johnson’s shot at the end of a mazy run from near halfway on the half hour mark did not worry the Wigan keeper, but it roused the home support. Benjani burst through the middle seconds later and bore down on Kirkland, but the striker touched it too far in front of him and allowed the keeper to make a brave block, getting a boot into his chest the pair collided.
Former Blue Michael Brown earned the game’s first caution on 35 minutes for a foul on Elano. The Brazilian received treatment but was back in action soon after.
More controversy followed almost straight away. Edman made a mealof it after challenging Vassell, but with City preparing for their corner referee Bennett awarded a free kick to Wigan to general amazement, and the disgust of the City bench.
Benjani went close after two minutes of the second half following Elano’s slide-rule pass to Vassell. His low cross found the Zimbabwean b the six yard box, but Kirkland and his defence hustled him off the ball. Sadly that was Elano’s last contribution to the game, having not shaken off Brown’s challenge earlier he hobbled off to be replaced by Caicedo.
City’s best phase so far came next and it was rounded off by Benjani getting a snap-shot in despite the attentions of three Wigan players on the edge of their box, the ball flying straight at Kirkland.
A Richard Dunne clearance on the hour went straight to Marlon King, but the City skipper redeemed himself by making a crucial block on the former Watford striker’s drilled shot. Antoine Sibierski replaced King to a somewhat mixed reception from the home support a few minutes later.
Benjani spurned a golden opportunity as we hit 70 minutes; Vassell sent over the perfect cross from the left but Benjani’s volley flew a long way wide when dead straight would surely have opened the scoring.
Heskey’s run to the by-line on 75 saw him find Sibierski, whose weak shot rolled wide of Hart’s right post.
The visitors had been content to sit back and hit on the break for the whole match, with the tactic nearly working on 81 minutes. Heskey again powered into the box and fed Palacios, whose first time shot brought a superb save from Hart, low down to his left. Palacios’ volley from the rebound flew a long way over the bar with the City keeper still on the floor.
Just two minutes were added on and the game ended with Wigan much happier than City with their point.