‘Five teams’ - Bristol City boss gives Wigan Athletic relegation verdict
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The Robins unbeaten run extended to ten games, but they were made to work hard for their point. Rob Atkinson opened the scoring after being unchallenged from Anis Mehmeti's cross, but Ashley Fletcher equalised after the hour mark, scoring from close range.
Wigan themselves are on an unbeaten run, and have yet to taste defeat under their new manager Shaun Maloney. Maloney succeeded Kolo Toure after a short reign, and they are unbeaten in his first three games. They earned a draw at play-off chasing Blackburn Rovers, and claimed an important win over relegation rivals Huddersfield Town.
From their draw with City, Wigan remain in the drop zone but are two points from safety, and have a game in hand over 21st-placed Cardiff City, who beat Birmingham City 2-0 at St Andrews on Tuesday night. The Lactics have 15 matches left, which is 45 points on offer, and Pearson, who has been involved in relegation battles himself, believes that Wigan are not the worst side involved in the relegation battle.
"Yeah, they will be fine," said Pearson when asked if Wigan can survive. "They will be fine. There are five teams that are worse than them. They are a decent side and a decent squad as well, they will be fine."
Blackpool are currently rock bottom of the division despite changing manager from Michael Appleton to the veteran Mick McCarthy, whilst Huddersfield have looked to Neil Warnock, but he was not in the dugout in their defeat to Stoke City, as he begins on the weekend. Wigan are three points away from Rotherham United, and then Stoke City are seven points ahead of them, with the table so close.
The unexpected win over Norwich City last weekend was a result that many may not have seen, and that put expectation on City to win against Wigan, given their lowly position. Four points from their last two matches however they picked them up is a continued step however into City's ascension up the table, and hopefully an improvement on last season's finish of 17th.
In terms of the match, City had more of the ball with 54% possession in their favour but Wigan carved more opportunities with 10 shots and two landing on target to the home sides five attempts and one on target, which was ultimately Atkinson's goal. Wigan did hit the crossbar from distance through Christ Tiehi, but Pearson believed his side were the better team.
He added: "I think everybody knew what today’s game was going to be like, I don’t think anyone thought it was going to be open and free-flowing, but we tried to make it as much like the type of game we wanted as possible.
"We tried to keep the tempo high, and we did do that for a lot of the time and the second half and even towards the end had we have won the game I think everyone would be saying what a great result, but we haven’t.
"That’s the key thing to it. Having conceded a poor goal, it’s a poor goal to concede but after that, we were the team who were going to win it. I have to give our players a bit of credit for that because that’s a big improvement from what we’ve been in the past.
"Tonight's game wasn't particularly a good game in terms of excitement. It was quite dour. They were here to make it difficult for us and they did."