Premier League - Wigan and Stoke share the spoils

Wigan were pegged back twice by Stoke in an entertaining 2-2 Premier League draw at the DW Stadium.

Premier League - Sunderland edge Wigan in thriller

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Franco Di Santo, Wigan Athletic

Shaun Maloney's fifth-minute penalty was cancelled out shortly before the interval by Jonathan Walters' own spot kick, before Peter Crouch's header levelled the contest once more after Franco Di Santo's neat finish put the hosts back into the lead early in the second half.

While Wigan controlled the bulk of the possession and threatened on the breakaway, the Potters were a consistent threat with deep crosses from the flanks and were denied a winner five minutes from time by a save of the season contender from Ali Al Habsi to deny debutant Charlie Adam a deflected first Stoke goal.

Tony Pulis's men have now drawn all three of their opening games in the 2012-13 league campaign, while Roberto Martinez and his side sit a point above them in the table with one win, one loss and now a draw to their name.

Higher on confidence than their guests despite seeing Victor Moses finally complete his £9million move to Chelsea, Wigan wasted little time in establishing themselves in the contest – though it was a foolish reaction from Robert Huth which led to them taking the lead.

The German centre-back inexplicably raised his hand when a tame effort from James McCarthy was set up by Shaun Maloney, with the Scottish winger stepping up to convert the opener from 12 yards with just five minutes on the clock.

The hosts continued to boss the flow of the game and threatened time and time again on the break, but lost Chile international Jean Beausejour to injury with less than half an hour played.

Tony Pulis soon made a first-half switch of his own, albeit a tactical one which saw Andy Wilkinson, terrorised by Maloney and co on the flank, replaced by deadline day signing Charlie Adam in his club bow.

The visitors would finally come to life from there, with a spell of dominance sparked initially by a cunning low Adam free-kick which had to be blocked by Latics skipper Gary Caldwell after 38 minutes.

Mere moments later, Crouch’s attempt to play the ball over Maynor Figueroa inside the box led to another ill-advised arm reflex which saw another clear handball and another penalty awarded by referee Martin Atkinson.

Walters, like Maloney before him, went low to the goalkeeper’s left to level the score and Stoke came close on two occasions to turning it on its head completely, both chances coming via Marc Wilson.

It appeared that Stoke would continue to pepper their opponents with set pieces and wide deliveries as the second half got under way, but after one particularly decent ball was almost turned into a chance at goal by Crouch’s headed knock-down, Wigan again broke immediately and regained their lead.

With Arouna Kone once again the sole blue and white shirt in the Stoke half to begin with, he took control of the clearance and made it into the penalty area where, with two defenders blocking his path to goal, the Ivorian squared to Di Santo for a splendid first-time finish beyond Asmir Begovic.

The Kone-Di Santo partnership created numerous tasks for the visiting back line and could well prove a force to be reckoned with as the season wears on, but their failure to make good on numerous chances created for themselves and for the likes of Emmerson Boyce and David Jones would prove costly.

With 14 minutes remaining, Cameron Jerome headed a throw into the path of Walters just a minute into his substitute cameo, and the scorer of Stoke’s first provided a perfect scooped cross from the right for strike partner Crouch to again restore parity at the far post.

Jerome found himself one-on-one with Al Habsi with seven to go but was denied by the goalkeeper before Crouch’s attempted follow-up was scuppered by the excellent Caldwell.

Ryan Shawcross produced a similarly-brilliant challenge to deny sub Ryo Miyaichi in the dying embers, moments after Adam’s 30-yard free-kick took a wild deflection off an unsuspecting Caldwell and forced Al Habsi to produce a seemingly-impossible one-handed stop on the goal line after changing direction at the last second.

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