Moses impresses for Latics but can't conjure up a goalThere was nothing to separate Lancashire rivals Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic in an encounter that had everything except for goals, meaning a replay will decide who will be playing in the fifth round of this season’s FA Cup.
Both sides had good opportunities to win the game, with Victor Moses particularly impressing for the visitors following his return from injury but neither side was able to break the deadlock and the game finished goalless.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle made three changes from the side that lost against Chelsea on Monday, new signing David Wheater made his debut in place of Gary Cahill who dropped to the bench, Gretar Steinsson was rested so Sam Ricketts took his place at full-back and Mark Davies replaced Stuart Holden in central midfield, with the American dropping to the bench.
Wigan made six changes to the side that was beaten by Aston Villa earlier this week as Roberto Martinez looked to rest some of his stars for their relegation battle. Charles N’Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega were not included in the squad and Callum McManaman and Jordi Gomez took their places. Victor Moses was recalled for his first start since dislocating his shoulder against Arsenal in the League Cup in October and Mohamed Diame was also recalled into the center of midfield as Hendry Thomas and James McCarthy were given a rest. In defense Adrian Lopez replaced Steve Gohouri and Gary Caldwell replaced his brother Steven after returning from suspension. The final change was an enforced one as Ali Al Habsi was ineligible to play against his parent club so Mike Pollitt was in goal.
The game could have had a goal inside the first minute as Kevin Davies tackled Adrian Lopez on the edge of the Wigan penalty area after just 14 seconds, the loose ball rolled to Johan Elmander but he shot was deflected and looped just wide of the goal. From the resulting corner a goalmouth scramble ensued but Pollitt was able to grab the loose ball to calm the visitors' nerves.
The open start to the game continued and this time it was Bolton gifting an opportunity to Wigan in the sixth minute. Victor Moses raced onto a weak back pass from Matt Taylor, the youngster rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen but couldn’t hit the target from a narrow angle.
The game finally began to settle down and the next clear opportunity fell to the visitors in the 23rd minute. Botlon conceded a free-kick 25 yards out from goal, Jordi Gomez fired it through the wall but it was saved by Jaaskelainen and smothered at the second attempt. A minute later the visitors looked certain to score through McManaman after a great run by the dangerous Moses. The winger glided past Ricketts and played a ball into the young striker but his shot struck a defender and flew wide of the goal.
The visitors continued their assault on the Bolton goal with another chance seven minutes later, neat play by Watson and Figueroa found McArthur on the right side of the pitch. He played a ball into Gomez who mis-controlled the ball but the loose ball fell neatly for Diame, as he charged towards goal he was challenged but the ball fell back into the path of Gomez who fired a fierce drive from 20 yards but Jaaskelainen parried it away.
Bolton were not having much luck going forward with the Wigan defense extremely resolute but a minute after Gomez’s opportunity Martin Petrov had the home side’s best chance of the half. Mark Davies won the ball in midfield and passed the ball onto Elmander, the Swede then played Petrov in on the left side of the penalty area but he fired wildly over the bar from 15 yards.
Both sides began the second half in search of the all-important first goal but resolute defending from both teams made it difficult for the strikers to get their shots away. Ben Watson was the first to test a goalkeeper in the 55th minute from a free-kick 23 yards from goal. He managed to get his shot up and over the wall but Jaaskelainen was able to save well.
Owen Coyle made a double change after an hour as Rodrigo and Robbie Blake were introduced in place of Taylor and Petrov, both players had struggled to make much of an impact and the Bolton boss clearly thought fresh legs were needed to enable the home side to cause more problems for the visitors.
As the home side began to push forward with more urgency the visitors were able to break on the counter attack using the pace of Moses and McManaman. Not surprisingly it was the impressive Moses who caused further problems for the Bolton defenders but he was unable to find the finish to match his excellent build-up play.
Substitute Blake’s first real impact on the game came in the 74th minute after a foul by James McArthur on Rodrigo gave Bolton a free-kick 20 yards from goal. The experienced midfielder took the free-kick with his right foot but the ball sailed just wide of Pollitt’s right hand post.
After being introduced in the 75th minute Wigan substitute James McCarthy took seven minutes to test Jaaskelainen. On another Wigan counter attack he linked well with Watson before cutting inside his marker and firing a low shot towards goal but the Bolton keeper saved well down to his left.
Rodrigo was beginning to be a real threat down the Bolton left and in 85th minute he raced down the line and chipped a cross to the back post but Figueroa was able to head it behind before Blake could pounce. From the corner another goalmouth scrambled ensued and when the ball broke loose Wheater fired a shot inches wide of the post.
The final chance of the match fell to the visitors after Holden fouled McManaman right on the edge of the box, but from the free-kick Jaaskelainen punched away Gomez’s left footed effort to ensure the game ended goalless and the two sides must do it all again at the DW Stadium.
Follow Goal.com on to get the latest soccer news directly. Check out Goal.com's page; be part of the best soccer fan community in the world!