REPORT: WEST BROM 2 LATICS 3
Wigan Athletic secured a huge three points in the battle for survival, coming from behind twice to beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 at the Hawthorns, with Callum McManaman scoring the crucial goal 10 minutes from time.
Latics fell behind initially to a Shane Long goal in the first half, before equalising with an Arouna Kone header. The Baggies then took the lead again after the half time restart through Gareth McAuley, before substitute James McArthur equalised again and then McManaman turned game-winner for Roberto Martinez's men.
Martinez made two changes to the team that started last weekend in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, one being Ronnie Stam for the injured Maynor Figueroa with the other seeing Ben Watson return to the starting XI for the first time since his leg break against Liverpool in November.
The hosts came out of the blocks quickly with a front three of Markus Rosenberg, Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long looking to put the pressure on Latics' defence.
Genuine chances were hard to come by but West Brom continued to press in the first 20 minutes, only testing Joel Robles with a low free kick from Graham Dorrans.
The Baggies' goal came just before the half an hour mark when their former defender Paul Scharner lost possession for Latics on the half way line, putting Watson and Rosenberg into a foot race down the right wing.
Rosenberg had the legs and when he cut the ball back into the danger zone Long was there to pounce and place the ball past a sprawling Robles.
Two minutes after the opener Latics almost levelled when Ronnie Stam's low cross at the front post was almost turned into Garath McAuley's own net under pressure from Kone at the front post.
Latics' pressure was mounting and the surge of belief from behind Robles' goal from the 1000 plus travelling fans was pushing them on.
Shaun Maloney sent out a warning shot from a 25-yard free kick that was curled inches wide of the post.
Then came the equaliser, as Maloney lay flat out from a late Billy Jones foul, Jean Beausejour played on down the left side, whipping in a pin-point cross for Arouna Kone who leaped above his marker to plant his header into the back of Ben Foster's goal and sending Latics fans into raptures.
Jones was called back and booked for the foul on Maloney, meaning that both full backs (Jones and Ridgewell) were cautioned.
Latics went close on the stroke of half time when a clever inside run from McManaman opened up space, only for the impressive 22-year-old to see his left footed effort deflect wide for corner.
The non-stop action was taken up a notch in the second half and after just five minutes it was the hosts ahead again.
A foul by Scharner on Long out wide on the right resulted in an out-swinging free kick from which McAuley rose the highest to power in for 2-1.
Eight minutes and a double substitution later, super subs James McArthur levelled at 2-2 with a diving header at the back post.
The un-playable Shaun Maloney provided a first of two tremendous assists as he twisted and turned inside the left of West Brom's penalty box before playing in a left footed cross for McArthur to head home.
The supporters behind the goal were once again surging Latics onto another historic performance as their voice echoed around the ground.
Joel Robles was one of the stand out performers during the afternoon and his heroics between the sticks saved Latics on a number of occasions, first on 72 minutes when Latics opened up and allowed Jones to attack down the right, only for Robles to save low with his feet.
Another eight minutes went by and another piece of Maloney magic was about to happen.
His dribbling ability invited clumsy challenges but he skipped around defenders to the by-line, cutting the ball back for McManaman who lifted the roof off the stand behind the goal as he made it 3-2.
The passion from the goal scorer and his team mates was clear to see as the winger ran straight towards the travelling fans to celebrate.
Heroics at one end were to be followed by an outstanding show of graft at the other as inside the final five minutes, Robles was forced to punch a top corner effort from Dorrans behind for a corner, before clawing the resulting corner behind again.
In the last minute of the five added on it was McArthur who saved a repeat of last weekend as he cleared off the line from a looping header as West Brom had a late free kick.
Robles held onto the ball from the header and his resulting clearance signalled the full time whistle to which the whole 11 ran towards the fans to show their appreciation.