The FA Cup dream continued and important Premier League points were picked up.
March and April were big months for Wigan Athletic in the 2012/13 season as Latics progressed through the rounds to their first ever FA Cup final (semi-final celebrations pictured) and set up an exciting May on both cup and league fronts with wins against Newcastle United and Norwich City as Premier League survival hung in the balance.
Despite ending March with back-to-back victories and a trip to Wembley Stadium to look forward to, it wasn’t an easy start to the month as Latics hosted Liverpool at the DW Stadium.
Coming off the back of a 3-0 away win against Reading in February, Latics were looking to build on their league form ahead of the FA Cup quarter final trip to the Reds’ Merseyside rivals Everton.
It wasn’t ideal preparation for Roberto Martinez’s men but the defeat’s 4-0 score line proved harsh on a Latics side that had no fewer than 11 shots on target but were held at bay by a solid Jose Reina performance as Luis Suarez netted a hat-trick.
With Latics feeling blue, it was time to face the blue half of Merseyside in the club’s first FA Cup quarter final since 1987, a game that would propel the club into its first ever semi-final in the competition.
Maynor Figueroa, Callum McManaman (pictured) and Jordi Gomez scored a goal each in a spell of three first half minutes as Figueroa’s back post header marked the start on 30 minutes and Gomez’s delicate stroking finish rounded it off on 33.
It was Latics’ first win at Goodison Park since Damien Francis scored in a 1-0 victory in 2005.
The victory not only set up a trip to Wembley Stadium but it gave Latics grounds to build on when they returned to Premier League action a week later against Newcastle United with a 2-1 win.
A set of firsts were marked that afternoon at the DW Stadium as Callum McManaman started a Premier League game for the first time, Jean Beausejour scored his first ever goal for the club and Arouna Kone (pictured scoring winner) became the first Latics player to make it into double figures in the Premier League in 2012/13.
Kone netted right at the death in a game that Latics looked destined to win but were pegged back in with 18 minutes remaining
Beausejour put his side in front inside 20 minutes as he swept the ball underneath Newcastle’s Rob Elliot but Latics couldn’t find a second, leaving the visitors to pull level through Davide Santon.
It was the right place at the right time for Ivorian striker Kone against the Magpies and it proved to be the same case two weeks later against Norwich City as he scored the only goal of the game to seal another vital three points just nine minutes from the end.
With the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium just around the corner in April, Latics were looking to make it three wins from three in the Premier League but were made to sweat for a point against Queens Park Rangers when Shaun Maloney (pictured) scored a stoppage time free kick after Loic Remy gave QPR a 1-0 lead.
Maloney’s goal sent Latics to Wembley to face Millwall with a four game unbeaten run behind them and it certainly created some momentum for the 11 players that stepped onto the Wembley turf.
Latics’ last semi-final in a competition provided high drama with a late goal from Jason Roberts at Highbury sealing a place in the 2006 League Cup final on away goals, this time it was a little straighter forward.
Latics’ attacking threats were too much for the Lions and after 25 minutes patience paid off when Kone’s cross was turned in by Maloney to start the ball rolling.
Millwall had a short spell of pressure in the second half which forced Ali Al Habsi to remain on his toes but other than that it was destined to be Latics’ day and with 12 minutes remaining McManaman’s skill took him beyond goalkeeper David Forde to seal the club’s place in the FA Cup final.
Celebrations from the fans behind the goal were wild; as were those of the players on the pitch but once they stepped out of Wembley the serious business of the Premier League had to resume.
Four days after their triumph against Millwall, Latics faced their future cup final opponents Manchester City in the Premier League.
Despite dominating the game for long spells, the breakthrough didn’t come and seven minutes from time Man City dealt a cruel blow when a moment of individualism from Carlos Tevez made it 1-0.
Three days after the narrow defeat, Latics were back in the capital for the third time in 13 days but were beaten 2-0 at Upton Park against West Ham United.
And so onto the final game of April, a match that would set up the joys and pains of the month to come as Tottenham Hotspur visited the DW.
Latics were dealt a cruel blow in the last minute of normal time when Emmerson Boyce, who had headed his side level in the first half (pictured), was the unfortunate one on the end of a Tom Huddlestone free kick as the ball deflected off him and trickled into the net to make it 2-2 following McManaman’s thunderbolt that had his side ahead.
The end of April saw Latics 18th just two points behind Aston Villa and with an FA Cup final on the horizon, an exciting challenge lay ahead.
A glimpse of what is to come in May (below).
A glimpse of what is to come in May (below).