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Wigan going the right way ahead of Saints clash
10:52am Wednesday 30th January 2013 in Premier League
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was proud of the character his side showed last night at Stoke - but ultimately disappointed they could only come away from the contest with a point.
The Latics, who host Saints for the first time ever this weekend, scored two fine goals at the Britannia Stadium through James McArthur's clipped finish in the 50th minute and striker Franco Di Santo's volley in the 61st, although it only served as a fightback after the visitors had twice been punished for lapses at the back.
Ryan Shawcross had put Stoke in front in the 23rd minute, slotting in when Jean Beausejour's attempted clearance off a free-kick had struck team-mate James McCarthy and fallen into the Potters captain's path.
Peter Crouch then made it 2-0 in the 48th minute, tucking home the rebound when Ali Al Habsi parried Charlie Adam's shot.
Reflecting on the 2-2 draw - which moved Wigan out of the Premier League relegation zone, up from 19th to 17th, where they are now level on points with 18th-placed Aston Villa - Martinez said: "I feel we went into half-time with Stoke having too much to show for it (their efforts).
"The goal was from a free-kick where we were very unfortunate - we don't clear it, it hits James McCarthy on the back of his head and we are 1-0 down. That was the only shot on target they had.
"Then in the second half I thought we grew into the game and controlled it.
"One counter-attack gave them a two-goal lead and I don't think there are many teams at the Britannia Stadium that would be able to come back from that.
"But from that point on, you look at the way we kept the ball and the way we kept showing that character.
"There was a two-goal deficit but we kept playing the same way and you never saw a player losing their composure.
"We scored two goals which were as good as you are going to see in this league from open play, which was very difficult to do against this Stoke side.
"Then we restricted Stoke to no corners. That is down to the hard work of the players and at the end, if I'm honest with you, I think the players were very disappointed that we dropped two points today.
"But it is something we need to improve a little bit more - you can't be that dominant in the second half but concede two goals.
"That is something we need to address, because I do feel we played like a top team in the second half."