Gomez stops Wigan flirting with disaster
Wigan 1-1 Bournemouth
JORDI Gomez's second-half equaliser denied League Two AFC Bournemouth a shock FA Cup win at Wigan.
Instead, the Cherries' battling display after Eunan O'Kane had netted a superb opener earned them a replay at Dean Court and a place in tomorrow's fourth round draw.
Wigan's second-half performance was enough to merit a share of the spoils, with new-boy Angelo Henriquez heading against the bar within minutes of his introduction at the break.
Although the romance of the FA Cup does not come from half-empty stadiums and severely weakened teams, the competition remains capable of conjuring up stories from even the least promising of circumstances.
A large number of Bournemouth supporters had already made their presence felt when O'Kane let fly from 20 yards four minutes before the break.
The 22-year-old from Derry, who by dint of birth is one of those who appeared for both Northern Ireland and the Republic at Under-21 level, had been existing in relative obscurity.
That changed when the former Coleraine and Torquay man advanced a couple of strides and drove a shot like an arrow into the top corner of Mike Pollitt's goal.
At 40 years and 11 months, Pollitt was becoming the second oldest player in Wigan history, behind Dave Beasant.
His failure to keep out O'Kane's strike had nothing to do with age though. The credit was all the Bournemouth's man, who raced away to celebrate, pursued by understandably ecstatic team-mates.
The visitors, unbeaten in their previous 16 games under Ernie Howe, could claim to deserve their interval lead too.
Although clear cut chances were at a premium, they had largely succeeded in shutting down a lacklustre Wigan attack, with even Maynor Figueroa - one of only two men remaining from the team that started against Manchester United on New Years' Day - failing to threaten with a couple of trademark piledrivers.
Marc Pugh was a useful attacking outlet for a Bournemouth side lacking both David James and star man Brett Pitman.
And the winger thought he had won a penalty when he went down under the lunge of Wigan debutant Roman Golobart.
Much to Pugh's chagrin, referee Robert Madley did not agree, instead booking him for diving.
Roberto Martinez was suitably unimpressed and introduced Henriquez at the break.
The 18-year-old is already a full Chile international and the excellent progress of Tom Cleverley during his loan spell with the Latics led Sir Alex Ferguson to believe Henriquez's talent could be developed under Martinez as well.
And within eight minutes, the young striker had hit the bar, ghosting to the near post where he met David Jones' free-kick with a firm contact that flicked over off the woodwork.
The Bournemouth crossbar was rattling again when Figueroa unleashed another brutal effort from 30 yards which Shwan Jalal could get nowhere near.
Having taken command, the hosts still required another controversial intervention by Madley to drag themselves level.
Madley was in no doubt Simon Francis hauled Figueroa over inside the six-yard box. TV replays showed he was correct.
But, yet again, Bournemouth were unanimous in their disagreement.
Gomez kept his cool throughout the rancour and was alert enough to tap the rebound into an empty net after Jalal had saved the midfielder's initial spot-kick.