Spurs keep Wigan at bay

Wigan Athletic manager Paul Jewell was left with a tough selection process ahead of next week’s Carling Cup final against Manchester United after seeing his side twice take the lead against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday—only for Spurs to reply with an equal number of strikes.

Wigan’s goals came from Andreas Johansson, and Spurs’ from Mido and Jermain Defoe, leading to a 2-2 draw.

Spurs are losing vital points as they try to hold on to fourth place in the Premiership and gain entry to next season’s Champions League, but they continue to make life hard for themselves.

They fell behind on nine minutes, when Paul Scharner’s pass found Johansson unmarked, and although Henri Camara was in an offside position, the Wigan goal stood as Johansson went past Ledley King and saw his effort deflected off the hand of Paul Robinson as the Spurs goalkeeper could only help the ball into the net.

But Tottenham struck back on 22 minutes when Paul Stalteri’s low cross from the right flank was met by Mido’s delicate touch, which helped the ball gain pace and fly past Wigan goalkeeper Mike Pollitt into the bottom right corner.

The Latics regained their lead on 66 minutes when Camara’s reverse pass to Johansson gave the Wigan striker his second goal as he fired a fierce shot past Robinson, but the advantage lasted less than 60 seconds. Spurs came back when Michael Carrick delivered a long cross from the centre of midfield, which Mido headed through to Defoe, who craftily chipped the ball over Pollitt’s advancing body to bring the match back to level pegging.

With points shared, Wigan manager Paul Jewell still expected more from his team’s first league fixture at Tottenham.

He commented: “The dressing room is a tad disappointed, really, that we only got one point out of it. I thought we were excellent, but we gave two daft goals away. The first one was from a throw-in, really, a cheap goal, and the second one was a mistake, which happens to everybody ... we just scored the second goal, a great goal as well, and within a minute or 30 seconds, it’s wiped out.”

But Wigan’s first successful season in top-flight football is there for all to see.

“The Wigan story, without being sentimental about it, gives football hope,” said Jewell. “People that come up from the Championship, people that maybe are in the second division at the moment, think, well, if Wigan can do it, maybe they can do it.”

“And don’t forget, I know we all call it big-spending Wigan, it only cost us ... £2,9-million to get from the second division to sixth or seventh in the Premiership, so it can be done—and obviously you have to have a chairman who’s prepared to put his hand in his pocket.”

Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol was left to reflect on his team salvaging a point.

“We came back today twice and that was probably a positive thing,” he said. “I think the first 15 matches, we had a couple of situations like this as well; we came back, everybody said, ‘That is great, Tottenham can bounce back again.’ We did that, and I think we did that today.

“I still have a bad taste about the first goal, but I can’t say anything, because everybody was saying it’s a new rule, and I don’t believe that.”

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