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Wigan Athletic vs Stoke City
 2 - 0 
Date: 
Sat Mar 31 15:00:00 BST 2012
Venue: 
DW Stadium
Attendance: 
19786
Referee: 
Mark Clattenburg

STOKE CITY produced an out-of-sorts performance as they saw a chance to move closer to the 40-point mark slip away at relegation battlers Wigan Athletic.

After the heroics of their performance against Manchester City, they struggled against a Wigan side who boosted their hopes of survival thanks to Antolin Alcaraz and Victor Moses.

The Latics had already wasted a number of golden opportunities when Alcaraz popped early in the second half to firmly head home a left wing cross from Jean Beausejour.

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City created very few opportunities to take something from the game, although Cameron Jerome scooped a close range effort over the bar in the closing stages of the encounter.

But Moses broke clear in injury time to put the issue beyond all doubt to give Wigan only their second home victory of the season and leave the Potters on 38 points.

The triumph for Wigan, coming as it did after their marvellous triumph at Liverpool last weekend, gave them further hope of beating the drop as they did on the final day of last season.

Pulis made one change to the side which drew with title challengers Manchester City last weekend as Pennant was drafted in to replace Jerome on the right hand side.

As expected, Fuller returned on the bench after serving his three-match suspension following the red card at Stamford Bridge and it was Delap who made way for him.

There was a let off for the Potters inside the first minute as Wilkinson was caught out of position, allowing Di Santo to thread a pass through to Beausejour, but although the winger had time and space to deliver his cross, it got the delivery horribly wrong.

In an action-packed opening to the game, City forced a corner at the other end which Pennant whipped in to the near post where Shawcross flicked it goalbound, but Whelan's attempt to apply the finishing touch was thwarted by Al Habsi's block on the line.

Wilkinson's uneasy start to the game continued when his attempted clearance was charged down by Di Santo who broke clear, but Begovic raced off his line to close down the angle and the striker's shot from the edge of the box was pushed wide by the Bosnian.

Wigan were using the width of the pitch to good effect and the next threat came down their right hand side as Moses created the space to send over a cross to the far post which was met on the volley by Maloney whose effort was pushed away by Begovic.

There was another warning sign for the Potters when Beausejour picked out the advancing Boyce with his cross from the left to the far post, but fortunately Wilson intervened at the crucial moment after the full back had brought the ball under control.

Having weathered the early pressure from the home side, the Potters probed for an opening, although a couple of occasions their final ball let them down.

Back came Wigan though and once again Wilson was in the right place at the right time with a clearance to deny McCarthy following a cross from Maloney.

The home side were almost punished for a sliced clearance from Boyce after Crouch had flicked on a long ball forward from Shawcross, but when the ball dropped to Walters he hooked his shot past the post as Al Habsi scrambled across his line to cover.

City were fortunate to remain on level terms five minutes before the break when Moses sent over a low cross from the right which picked out Beausejour on the edge of the six yard box, but he completely mis-hit what seemed a simple tap-in.

With three minutes added on at the end of the first half, the Potters were awarded a free kick for a foul on Crouch and Pennant sent a menacing ball into the box which Shawcross headed over the bar, but the referee's whistle had already gone for an infringement.

Shortly after the restart, Pulis made his first change of the afternoon as Etherington, who had picked up a knock in the first half, was replaced by Jerome, a switch that meant Walters moved out onto the left hand side to take over from the winger.

As Wigan exerted plenty of pressure in the early stages of the second half, the diminutive Maloney was at the heart of their best moves.

And he played a major part in the opening goal of the game in the 54th minute, teeing up Beasejour for a left wing cross which found Alcaraz coming in to plant a firm header beyond the reach of the diving Begovic from close range.

City tried to lift their game and find a way back into the match, but they were up against a Wigan side determined to climb out of relegation trouble once again after being given so much heart by their excellent victory at Liverpool.

Therefore, Pulis resorted to making another two changes when Palacios and Fuller were sent on in place of Walters and Pennant.

City wasted the chance to put some pressure on Wigan when Whelan took a free kick quickly and caught Shawcross in an offside position.

At the other end, Wigan had a golden opportunity to stretch their lead when the freshly introduced Watson swung over a free kick to the far post to the unmarked Beausejour who once again made a mess of his finish much to Begovic's relief.

With Wigan bolstering their defence in an attempt to hold onto their slender lead, it invited City to push forward and from a free kick rolled down the line by Whelan, Wilkinson sent over a cross that was headed wide of the target by Shawcross.

As the game moved into its closing stages and the home side became increasingly nervous, Fuller exploited that by wriggling his way to the by-line and when his shot was blocked, Jerome scooped his effort over the bar.

As the Potters grew frustrated at their attempts to get back into the game and threw men forward, they were caught out deep into injury time as Moses broke clear of Wilkinson and rounded Begovic before slotting home.

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Peter Crouch shields the ball away from Antolin Alcaraz. ACTION IMAGES
Stoke City's hopes of edging closer to the 40 point mark are dashed at Wigan Athletic.
 Match Information
 
  Wigan Stoke
Goals : 2 0
Possession : 57% 43%
Shots On Target : 11 2
Shots Off Target : 2 4
Corners : 8 1
Fouls : 14 13
Most Fouls : McArthur (3) Huth (3)
Yellow Cards : 2 4
Red Cards : 0 0
 
Scorers :
Alcaraz 54
Moses 90 + 3
 
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