FA Cup Final 2013: Manchester City 0 Wigan Athletic 1

posted 11 May 2013, 11:20 by Richard Brook   [ updated 15 May 2013, 14:38 ]

This "on the whistle" match report was written to a common industry deadline, for the current "digital first" ethos of sports journalism, of full-time in the match being reported. It was originally published on, and tweeted by, rjb81media in and amongst the publishing and tweeting of similar digital content by the national newspapers.

Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup at Wembley today, the first major trophy in their 81 year history, thanks to a last minute winner from substitute Ben Watson. Watson's towering header came immediately after a penalty claim, for a challenge on Callum McManaman, was turned down in favour of a corner. The final was always going to be a special occasion for Wigan Chairman who built his business empire out of the compensation he received after his own playing career was effectively ended at Wembley. 'Crunch' Whelan was a tough tackling 23 year old full-back for Blackburn Rovers when he played in the 1960 FA Cup Final at Wembley. During the game Whelan went in for a challenge against Wolverhampton Wanderers Norman Deeley. Whelan broke his leg, and without substitutes Rovers went on to lose 3-0. Whelan fought to continue playing, but it was 18 months before he returned to training. During his come back in a reserve game, against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, Whelan cracked his leg again in the same place, and his career came to an end.

The early exchanges were characterised by good spells of possession by City and tough, resolute defending by Wigan. The opening chance came as Emerson Boyce chopped down Sergio Aguero right on the edge of the penalty area, just to the left of centre but Carlos Tevez shot hit a jumping wall. The ball fell to Yaya Toure who saw his low shot firmly palmed away as Joel dived to his left, in the Wigan goal.

Wigan wasted a glorious chance after eight minutes as Arouna Kone fed Callum McManaman, breaking into the right hand side of the box, with a stunning, weighted through ball that would grace any game. McManaman ducked back onto his left foot, when a first time effort on his right looked a better option, and curled his effort well wide of the far post, as City's Matija Nastasic recovered well to cover the angle.

The Latics began to get a foothold and started to enjoy more possession in advanced positions but failed to test Joe Hart despite winning a couple of set pieces in advanced positions. Shaun Maloney saw an improvised volley hit Nastasic after good work by Roger Espinoza. Though at the other end Aguero almost connected, in behind the Wigan back line, as he raced on to meet David Silva's mis-hit shot.

The first serious save came about in 28th minute as Vincent Kompany's raking long pass found Samir Nasri on the left, Nasri passed to Aguero, at the near post, who laid it off to Tevez in the centre of the area. The Argentinian hit the ball back across Joel who managed to execute a brilliant improvised a save, flicking the ball over the cross bar, with a trailing boot. Thereafter the game sprung to life, with a series of end to end attacks.

Wigan were denied a penalty, shortly after, as Espinoza fell in the Manchester City penalty area under a challenge by Paulo Zabaleta but referee Andre Marriner waved away the appeals, and in truth it looked a good decision. Moments later McManaman broke athletically into the box beyond Nastasic. McManaman got the the goal-line, Hart went to ground and failed to get the ball, but the covering City defenders forced him to check back and the chance was gone.

At the other end Tevez played Zabaleta neatly into the box but the resulting shot was well blocked. The rebound fell nicely for Gareth Barry whose own effort was caught, somewhat uncertainly, by Joel. City reasserted themselves with a spell of tidy possession football, deep in Wigan territory and eventually Nasri hit a stinging shot the was comfortably saved by Joel to ensure the sides went in level at half-time.

City began to dominate, the early stages of the second half as Tevez danced into the right hand side of Wigan's box, past Paul Scharner, and found Aguero at the near post but Boyce was on hand to ensure the move ended with the ball going behind for a corner. After 53 minutes Silva's chipped delivery was aimed at Tevez who attempted a spectacular overhead kick but he failed to make contact. Moments later City's own penalty appeals were turned down, as Scharner went in on Aguero and again the referee appeared correct in his decision.

Wigan's main threat was McManaman who repeatedly had Gael Clichy in trouble with his pace and directness, and it was McManaman who twisted and turned into the penalty area before blasting a shot which was charged down by the imperious Kompany, whose performance was notable for a number of first rate interceptions to break up Wigan's play.

In the 72 minute Milner was brought down outside the right hand edge of the box. The resulting free-kick was headed goalwards by substitute Jack Rodwell but the header was well held by a diving Joel. Mere minutes later McManaman was felled in a similar position for Wigan. Maloney whipped in the free-kick, as a cross which was over hit but came down on the top of Hart's cross bar.

With seven minutes remaining Zabaleta was sent off for a desperate lunge, as the last man, to stop McManaman who was clean through. Maloney's shot direct from the free-kick, but it cleared the right hand top corner of the City goal with Hart unconcerned. Barry conceded a free-kick for a tired challenge on Maloney within minutes. This time Ben Watson blasted an effort but City's wall held.

In the last minute Ben Watson, won the cup for Wigan rising highest to power a whipped corner across Hart. Maloney's corner was pin-point to the near post and Watson's header left Hart with no chance as it flew in at the back stick, to send the Wigan fans into raptures and to win the FA Cup.