Wigan grab a precious point

Aston Villa 1 Wigan 1

Aston Villa 1 Wigan 1

Ten-man Wigan survived a second-half battering to claim a precious point in their battle to stay in the Barclays Premiership.

Emile Heskey had given the Latics an early lead before Antonio Valencia was sent off in the 34th minute for a two-footed lunge on Wilfred Bouma.

But for all their dominance all Villa could manage in reply was a third goal in as many games from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

The visitors were indebted to a fine display from goalkeeper John Filan who made several fine saves while skipper and defender Matt Jackson was also impressive.

Villa camped in the Wigan half for long periods and Patrik Berger was again impressive in midfield where he has provided a creative spark.

Some less than deadly finishing and Filan’s excellence denied them a second win in 48 hours although five points from the last three games have taken them clear of the bottom three.

Villa started in a more purposeful vein than recent home games with Agbonlahor’s pace causing problems.

Bouma was only just too high with a fierce drive from the edge of the box and Filan was forced to turn a dipping 20-yarder around the post from Patrik Berger.

Agbonlahor raced clear of the Wigan defence after an electrifying turn of pace and it needed a good block by Filan to deny him the opening goal after 17 minutes.

But three minutes later the Latics went ahead in controversial fashion through Heskey.

Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen claimed he was impeded by Jackson as he attempted to claim Denny Landzaat’s inswinging corner but the ball was headed back across goal for Heskey to hook home from close range.

The goal took the wind out of Villa’s sails after their bright opening and Stiliyan Petrov became the first player to be yellow carded after 29 minutes for bringing down Kevin Kilbane just outside the box.

Wigan were reduced to 10 men after 34 minutes when Valencia was shown a red card after launching a two-footed challenge at Bouma.

Latics boss Paul Jewell was initially incensed with the decision but television replays suggested referee Mark Halsey was spot on.

Bouma attempted to continue after treatment but he limped out of the action to be replaced by Ashley Young four minutes later.

It prompted a tactical reshuffle with skipper Gareth Barry switching to left-back and Craig Gardner moving into central midfield to accommodate Young on the right flank.

Martin Laursen had a chance to put Villa on level terms but he headed over when well placed from Berger’s corner before Olof Mellberg was yellow-carded for blocking off Kilbane’s run with a body check.

Jewell brought on Ryan Taylor for Unsworth at half-time and his side found themselves under the cosh immediately from the restart.

Filan produced a superb save away to his right to keep out Young’s downward header from Petrov’s cross.

Villa got back on level terms after 50 minutes through Agbonlahor’s third goal in the last three games.

Barry picked out the run of Berger whose cross cum shot was flicked home by Agbonlahor and the ball had crossed the line before Baines’ attempted clearance.

It was the ninth goal of the campaign for Agbonlahor who last week signed a new three-year contract.

Baines was booked for arguing with the linesman in the aftermath of the goal and Jewell instantly replaced Hall with Josip Skoko.

Villa were now dominating without carving out many clear-cut openings although Skoko did well to block a fierce shot from Berger.

Filan again did well to turn a header from Olof Mellberg onto the post from Berger’s cross and replays were inconclusive as to whether the ball had fully crossed the line before being cleared away.

Filan was booked in the 81st minute for time-wasting but Wigan held on for a vital point although Barry and Berger were not far off target with dipping efforts.

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