There was late drama at the DW Stadium as Southampton recorded a draw on their first ever visit to Wigan.
A dominant performance from the visitors was not reflected by the half time scoreline as Mauricio Pochettino’s side trailed 1-0 at the interval to a goal against the run of play from Latics captain Gary Caldwell, who powered home a header from Jean Beausejour’s corner with 25 minutes gone.
In the second 45 Saints were rampant, and they hit back with an equaliser from Rickie Lambert, as the striker notched his eleventh goal of the season with a close range header, but had to wait until the 85th minute to get themselves in front when Morgan Schneiderlin tapped home Rodriguez’s cross for what looked like a late winner.
But a last minute intervention from Wigan arrived from a corner which found its way to Shaun Maloney at the far post, with the midfielder keeping his cool to tap home at the far post for a heart-breaking leveller.
As was the case in the reverse fixture, clinical finishing played its part, but it doesn’t disguise the fact that Saints have thrown away more points from a winning position than any other top-flight team this season, which is something Pochettino will be keen to address.
Wigan: Al-Habsi, McCarthy (Henriquez 90), Caldwell, Figueroa, Stam (Gomez 56), Beausejour, Maloney, Espinoza (McManaman 74), Scharner, McArthur, Di Santo. Subs (not used): Robles, Jones, Golobart, Campabadal.
Saints: Boruc, Clyne (Lallana 60), Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw, Puncheon (Ward-Prowse 80), Schneiderlin, Cork, Ramirez (S. Davis 46), Rodriguez, Lambert. Subs (not used): K. Davis, Fox, Lee, Richardson.
Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 18, 598
There was just one change to the starting line up from Wednesday’s narrow defeat at Old Trafford with Luke Shaw coming back into the side, with Danny Fox dropping back to the bench.
James Ward-Prowse returned to the squad at the expense of Richard Chaplow.
Hosts Wigan got the match underway with Southampton defending the end housing the 3,000 strong travelling support, on a clear and chilly afternoon in Lancashire.
There was plenty of early invention shown from the visitors, who displayed some slick attacking movement in the opening exchanges as they took the game to their opponents.
Following early efforts from Ramirez and Schneiderlin, the latter of which clearing the bar, both teams were keen to utilise their ability to keep possession with the ball remaining in play for long spells.
The endeavour from the visitors forced Wigan onto the backfoot as the Latics struggled to contain the movement from their opponents, and relying on the counter-attack.
The tactic almost paid off for the home side in the 13th minute when Franco Di Santo poked a cross from Jean Beausejour towards goal, but Artur Boruc sprung across to keep the shot out to his left.
Saints almost found a breakthrough on 16 when Lambert’s perfectly measured cross from deep into the area found Ramirez, who had beaten the offside trap with a perfectly timed run, but the Uruguayan blazed a volley over the top of Al-Habsi’s goal from eight yards out.
Time and time again, Saints won the ball from the hosts, who defended in great number, but they were undone at the other end on 25 minutes. A corner from Beausejour was powerfully headed into the bottom left of Boruc’s goal by Latics captain Gary CALDWELL whose firm effort was unstoppable.
Saints almost responded immediately to the setback when James McCarthy’s clearance eon the edge of his own area, bounced off Morgan Schneiderlin and looped towards goal, forcing Ali Al-Habsi to clamber across and tip the ball behind for a corner.
The goal didn’t completely knock the stuffing out of Saints, but Rodriguez was adjudged to have done so when he challenged Beausejour on the left, resulting in a booking for the frontman as play ticked over the half hour.
The mistakes were still being forced onto Wigan with Ramirez charging down a Caldwell clearance which again made Al-Habsi work, and the resulting kick out from the ‘keeper was sliced out of play.
On 38 Jos Hooiveld went within a whisker of levelling the scores when he glanced a header from Schneiderlin’s corner on the right, narrowly wide of the far post.
Shaun Maloney struck wide at the other end before Saints went back on the offensive and were unfortunate not to make more of Shaw’s left wing cross which bounced up inside the box, but neither Lambert nor Rodriguez could direct it towards goal.
Saints ended the half firmly in the ascendancy in terms of possession, and were unfortunate not to equalise when Rodriguez’s header back across goal, but despite the domination from Pochettino’s men, they trailed at the break.
Half Time: Wigan 1-0 Saints
The visitors made a substitution at the start of the second period, with Steven Davis replacing Ramirez, who had taken a knock late on in the first half.
Normal service resumed three minutes into the second 45 with another slick move forward from the visitors resulted in Cork crossing towards Lambert, who went to meet it with a diving header, but was beaten to it by a last ditch nod away by Paul Scharner.
Jack Cork became the second Saint to go into the book for a late challenge on Roger Espinoza, but the midfielder picked himself up to win a corner with a teasing cross that Al-Habsi had to scramble across to put out of play.
Wigan made their first change on 56 minutes with Jordi Gomez replacing Ronnie Stam, but still Saints pushed forward for a leveller. A break from Lambert down the left side, saw him cross towards Rodriguez who mis-hit the ball, but the ball ended up in the path of Puncheon who was unable to tidy up from close range.
Adam Lallana was introduced to the action on the hour mark in place of Clyne, with Jack Cork switching to right back as the visitors freshened up their attacking options.
The pressure finally paid off when Cork’s cross into the six yard box was flicked on by Rodriguez to the waiting LAMBERT at the far post, whose bravery to squeeze a close range header in brought it to 1-1 in the 64th minute.
The contest sprang back into life on the back of the equaliser, but still it was Saints, pressing hardest. Puncheon forced a corner with a cutback into the middle, before Lallana struck the inside of the post after latching onto a Steven Davis assist from the edge of the box.
In the 72nd minute, Shaw burst away down the left flank to good effect once more, and this time, his cross found Lambert at the far post, but his volley back across goal flashed inches wide of the post with Al-Habsi beaten.
Wigan introduced striker Callum McManaman in place of Espinoza on 74 with the game set for a tense finale despite the efforts of the visitors who continued to open up their opponents across the park.
Saints’ final change saw James Ward-Prowse come on for Puncheon with ten minutes to play, and in the 85th minute, Pochettino’s side completed their turnaround on the back of a terrific break down the left.
It started from deep where Ward-Prowse set Rodriguez away, and the frontman kept his nerve to take the ball all the way to the byline before picking out the run of SCHNEIDERLIN inside the six yard box to gleefully stroke home what looked as though would be the winner.
But there would be a late twist in the 89th minute when a corner on the left was headed back across the box by Scharner to MALONEY who made no mistake from close range to make it 2-2.
Wigan withdrew McCarthy in favour of Angelo Henriquez as the clock ticked over to 90, but in the end it was honours even as Saints left the DW with a point.
Full Time: Wigan 2-2 Saints