The Allgates dark mild did not disappoint in the splendid Anvil brewhouse, which made for a convivial walk along the canal in the winter sun to the DW stadium.
Cherries came into this game on the back of four games undefeated and a decent Christmas playing good football. Wigan were also inform following the appointment of Uwe Rosler and were able to include a number of premiership and cup final stars such as James McArthur, Callum McManaman and Ben Watson as well as the former Crewe prodigy Nick Powell signed for £8m by the Salford team and loaned out to Wigan.
Cherries lined out in the now familiar 4-1-4-1 with Ritchie and Fraser starting on the wings with Pugh, Pitman and Rantie on the bench. Still no Cook at the back so Ward and Elphick continued in the centre of defence. The atmosphere was subdued compared to the FA Cup game last season with only 272 Cherries fans making the trip. A bit different to the almost 4,000 at the cup tie.
From the first whistle Cherries seemed to be a bit lethargic, perhaps some Christmas hangovers, with sloppy passing, mis-control and lack of pace. By contrast Wigan came out of the blocks with fast, purposeful and incisive passing, recognising a weakness on the right side of Cherries defence. This proved our undoing after only four minutes when Fortune on the turn at the corner of the box lashed the ball over Camp into the net. Elphick and Francis were both culpable for the goal. The game continued with Wigan in the ascendency with Nick Powell pulling the strings with quick feet and ghostly movement similar to Martin Peters. This led to Camp being tested a number of times with a series of shots that he all saved with safe hands, notably a 25 yard dipping drive by Powell. Cherries could not get going or keep the ball and it was 25mins before Richtie produced the first shot at goal.
At this stage from our position high above the goal Cherries play resembled rugby league with the ball being passed sideways from left to right and back again with no yards gained and the aim of playing our wingers in behind the defence being thwarted by Wigan taking the ball from Ritchie or pushing Fraser to the ground. Grabban toiled bravely on his own up front, running up and down the channels. Camp then made two more good saves from McArthur and a 25 yard free kick by Watson as Wigan continued to dominate. Half time 0-1 and a lack-lustre Cherries performance. Time for the Eddie team talk!
The Cherries began the second half with a greater sense of urgency taking the game to Wigan with Arter finding Ritchie and Grabban in dangerous positions that suggested an equalising goal was not far away. Sadly against the run of play, Wigan made it 2-0 on the hour with a soft own goal deflected into the net by Elliot Ward with Camp wrong-footed and having no chance to save. Pity as Cherries were playing their best football of the game. Time for subs with Pugh on for the ineffective Fraser followed by Rantie for Arter. Within 10 mins Pitman was also on for Ritchie with Cherries going 4-4-2 with Grabban taking Ritchie's place on the right as he had done do well at Burnley. Cherries now looked more threatening with the Pugh-Daniels combo restored on the left with Grabban moving into dangerous crossing positions on the right wing. This created space and late chances for Rantie who shot wide from a cross and was then in the clear in the middle of the goal after a lovely dummy by Pitman but he shot straight at Al Habsi in the Wigan goal.
Great strikers such as Aguero and Van Persie always seem to have time and find the corner of the goals. For all his pace and close control Rantie does not look like an accomplished finisher, which is worry given his price tag. Pugh was also guilty of shooting straight at Al Habsi when in a good position. Wigan then produced s stunning late goal, a stunning 25 yarder from Gomez in stoppage time that sealed the game at 3-0 with nothing Camp could do.
Cherries were well beaten in the end by classy opponents and hopefully this wad just a bad day at the office rather than an indication of a wider malaise. As the managers say wr need to take the postives and move on! Camp was clearly a man of the match vontender with half a dozen good saves and although he was not at fault with any of Wigan's goals, something in me cannot give a man of the match to a goalie who has been beaten three times so I'm going for Lewis Grabban who worked tirelessly for the cause putting in an impressive shift.
AFCB: Camp, Francis, Elphick, Ward, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, O'Kane, Surman, Fraser, Grabban
Subs: Allsop, Cook, Harte, Hughes, Pugh (for Fraser, 58 mins), Rantie (for Arter, 64 mins), Pitman (for Ritchie, 73 mins)
Jack Parker, Didsbury