Stoke remain unbeaten


WIGAN, February 10 – Stoke City held on to their unbeaten record this year against relegation-threatened Wigan at home on Tuesday after the Latics blew the lead to draw 1-1.Roberto Martinez’s men badly needed a win after going into the game hovering two places above the drop zone and having picked up a meagre six points from their previous nine games.

Stoke, meanwhile, stretched their unbeaten run to five and are still to be defeated in 2010 following their 3-0 demolition of Blackburn Rovers at the weekend.

Latics’ new teenage sensation Victor Moses had to make do with a place on the bench, while Stoke were still without skipper Abdoulaye Faye after he failed to recover from the back spasm that forced him to miss Saturday’s game.

Wigan started the match brightly with winger Charles N’Zogbia at the centre of much of his side’s attacking play.

Stoke’s Matthew Etherington fouled the former Newcastle man on 13 minutes and N’Zogbia took the resulting free kick to dispatch an inch-perfect cross for Austrian international defender Paul Scharner to head past Thomas Sorensen for the opening goal.

Both sides pressed hard but their combative midfield tactics cancelled each other out in the first half.

Wigan’s James McCarthy was left hurting after a tussle with Stoke’s Irish midfielder Glenn Whelan on 52 minutes, limping from the field two minutes later to be replaced by Hendry Thomas.

Tony Pulis’ men’s industrious performance finally paid off after 70 mins when Ricardo Fuller – who was playing despite having been arrested on suspicion of assault last weekend – centred from the right.

The Wigan defence managed to clear his effort but only as far as Stoke wide man Etherington, who crossed for Turkish international Tuncay Sanli to head home.

Former England striker James Beattie, on as a late substitute for Stoke, could have snatched victory right at the death when Etherington skipped past Gary Caldwell and whipped in a pinpoint cross.

But Beattie’s drive from the edge of the box was parried by Wigan stopper Chris Kirkland, who dived to his left and pushed the ball away to safety.

The draw moves Wigan up to 14th in the Premier League while Stoke remain in 11th.