Blues fight back for points

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A resurgent Birmingham produced a rousing second-half comeback to earn a 3-2 win and leave frustrated Wigan boss Roberto Martinez to contemplate another wretchedly inconsistent afternoon.

It is now six matches without defeat for Alex McLeish's side, who find themselves riding high in an unaccustomed eighth position in the Barclays Premier League and comfortably on course for survival.

Two free-kicks from Sebastian Larsson sandwiched a second goal of the season for Christian Benitez, all in the space of 11 maddening minutes for Martinez, whose side had easily led 1-0 at the break via a stunning effort from Charles N'Zogbia.

That should have been the platform for back-to-back wins for the Latics for the first time this season following last weekend's 1-0 win over Sunderland.

Yet for some reason Martinez is unable to fathom, they are unable to string two results and performances together, leaving them hovering precariously over the relegation zone.

No wonder Martinez is desperately seeking two or three players in the transfer window to strengthen his squad in a bid to stay up.

City's fightback will undoubtedly have been sparked by strong words from McLeish at half-time as they were surprisingly lethargic during a tame 45 minutes.

The only spark was provided by Roger Johnson, and that in a far from appropriate fashion, as he reacted with fury to being accidentally caught by a flailing arm from Hugo Rodallega in the 14th minute.

The midfielder had to be restrained by one of his team-mates from confronting Rodallega, who was also protected by referee Lee Probert.

A pleading Rodallega was eventually cautioned by Probert, who then had to issue Johnson with a stern talking to minutes later as he felled Paul Scharner.

Benitez managed one fierce shot on 24 minutes but Mike Pollitt, who had replaced the injury-prone Chris Kirkland a minute earlier as the Latics number one sustained a back problem, showed fine reactions in beating away the shot.

Beyond that Wigan then dominated a half they had started brightly when Scharner ran onto an incisive through ball from Mohamed Diame, only to send a stretched toe-poke wide after rounding Joe Hart.

Former Blues defender Mario Melchiot, booed with every touch by the City fans, Diame and N'Zogbia later combined just before the half hour to tee up Rodallega.

Last week's matchwinner against Sunderland, however, could only sidefoot his first-time shot from 15 yards over the bar.

Wigan's disappointment was shortlived, however, as N'Zogbia then scored a peach of a strike in the 33rd minute.

Jason Scotland did all the early donkey work, keeping in play a punted pass before holding the ball up and playing it back to the awaiting N'Zogbia just outside the area.

Approaching the right-hand corner of the area, N'Zogbia attacked Liam Ridgewell before curling a fine left-foot shot beyond Hart from 17 yards into the far corner.

Wigan should have headed into the break with a two-goal cushion, only for Diame to stroke one long-range effort narrowly wide and Hart to deny Scharner and Rodallega with instinctive saves low down to his right.

After the break it was all change, with Pollitt showing brilliant reactions again in the 49th minute in tipping aside a downward header from Benitez.

Scotland and N'Zogbia could perhaps have put Wigan out of sight before Pollitt undid his fine work in the 62nd minute by allowing a 35-yard free-kick from Larsson to float past him.

Five minutes later Benitez's run onto a through ball from Lee Bowyer concluded with a flicked effort that trickled over the line after catching Pollitt's outstretched right foot.

Another six minutes later and it was game over, this time Larsson curling beyond Pollitt a more direct free-kick from 20 yards.

Jordi Gomez, a 76th-minute substitute for Emmerson Boyce, at least made the closing stages interesting by curling home a 22-yard free-kick in the 89th minute.

That was his first goal for the club following a #1.7million move from Espanyol in the summer, but ultimately there was no late reprieve for Wigan and Martinez.


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Roger Johnson
Chris Kirkland
Emmerson Boyce
Joe Hart
Lee Bowyer
Liam Ridgewell
Mike Pollitt
Hugo Rodallega
Premier League
Christian Benitez
Paul Scharner
Wigan Athletic
Charles N'Zogbia
Jason Scotland
Sebastian Larsson
Jordi Gomez
Mohamed Diame

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