Scottish Premier League

Extra assistants for cup final

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Tue, 07 May 2013 19:51:00

Dwight Tiendalli pushed Wigan closer to relegation from the Premier League as Swansea triumphed 3-2 in a five-goal thriller at the DW Stadium.

The Latics, who tackle Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday, twice led against the Capital One Cup winners but were made to pay a heavy price from some woeful defending which leaves them three points from safety with just two games left to play.

Roger Espinoza and James McCarthy found the net for the hosts, but Roberto Martinez's former club responded on each occasion to level through Angel Rangel and Itay Schechter, before Tiendalli opened his account for the Swans with the crucial winner 14 minutes from time.

Wigan could have found themselves a goal down with just three minutes gone when stand-in left-back Espinoza's attempted pass to Paul Scharner only succeeded in releasing Wayne Routledge, who forced goalkeeper Joel to push his near-post drive behind.

Swansea were presented with another opportunity when Joel inexplicably picked up Gary Caldwell's back-pass, but Ashley Williams blazed the resulting free-kick hopelessly high over the bar, much to the amusement of the home supporters.

The deadlock was broken just before the interval as Vorm could only fist away a hanging high cross and Espinoza volleyed home from inside the box, threading his shot beyond Garry Monk, Williams and the keeper.

Wigan's lead lasted just five minutes into the second period as Swansea started strongly and deservedly drew level when Rangel volleyed home with aplomb via the base of the post after Routledge's neat ball into the box.

The home side responded immediately and in style, as Caldwell's neat through-ball released McCarthy, who burst beyond the Swansea defence to fire confidently beyond Vorm, with James McArthur then passing up a glorious chance to make it 3-1 when he failed to get a clean contact to Arouna Kone's cross six yards out.

But Caldwell was guilty of squandering possession in his own half, as Schecter was allowed two bites of the cherry and his eventual shot found the back of Joel's net after deflecting off Emmerson Boyce and clipping the inside of the post in the 59th minute.

Vorm produced an outstanding save to keep the scores level, plunging to his left to push away Caldwell's powerful close-range header after Maloney's corner, with Wigan then culpable in their own downfall 14 minutes from time.

Tiendalli was gifted the opportunity to put his side ahead as McArthur and Maloney both failed to deal with Pablo Hernandez's cross to the far post and the Dutch defender slotted beyond Joel from close range.

Swansea goalkeeper Vorm was stretchered off in a neck brace five minutes from time after a sickening collision with Ben Davies, as Wigan were unable to find a leveller despite nine minutes of added time.

Wigan boss Martinez, who revealed after the match that he feared Ronnie Stam had suffered a broken leg, admitted they paid the price for errors in defence.

He told Sky Sports: "We have so many injuries at the back and today that showed too much. We conceded sloppy goals with bad decisions. That is very unfortunate because you could see the effort of the players and the commitment and desire in wanting to win the game."

Swansea counterpart Michael Laudrup saluted the resilience of his side as they twice came from behind to take all three points.

He added on Sky Sports: "It wasn't a great football game, technically speaking, because there was too much at stake for Wigan. I think coming back twice in an away game to Wigan like this, I can be very, very pleased."

The 30-year-old has been without a club since his Sunderland contract expired last summer and has recently been coaching at First Division side Dumbarton.

Gordon only played one game last season but he has denied rumours he has already retired from football.

The Scotland international told STV: "People can say what they like to say but I'll continue to try and rehabilitate my knee and get myself in the best possible state.

"If that means I can get back to playing football then I'd be delighted.

"I've been round people in Europe and back home getting as many opinions as possible to find the one thing that will help."

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale scooped both the main award and young player honour last month, before adding the Football Writers' prize as well.

For the prestigious FWA honour, members could vote virtually until the result was confirmed.

Yet the players have to vote much earlier, which Ferdinand feels leads to an inadequate conclusion.

"The problem with the PFA awards is that the voting system is flawed," Ferdinand told Manchester United's oficial website.

"There's so much technology at hand that you could do it over an iPad and just say 'bang, bang, bang' at the end of the season.

"I am not just being biased but if it was voted for today Robin van Persie would win it by a country mile.

"But it was voted for by the players in late February or March.

"Gareth Bale is a worthy winner, but for me it isn't a true reflection of the season."

Both United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester City counterpart Roberto Mancini are in agreement that Van Persie's Old Trafford arrival from Arsenal made the significant difference this term.

The question now is who Ferguson will add to his squad this summer.

Not that the entire position around the United manager is straightforward.

Whilst it has been confirmed the United manager will have hip surgery in the summer, no explanation has been put forward why the 71-year-old's operation will take place after the club's summer tour to Australia and the Far East rather than immediately, when it would have no impact on any club business.

There is also the strange matter of a massive gamble on David Moyes to become next United manager amid reports that he will be announced as Ferguson's assistant in the summer.

Moyes is out of contract at Everton in the summer and has been cagey about revealing his plans.

Yet within this uncertainty, there were Ferguson's programmes notes ahead of Sunday's defeat to Chelsea, when he stressed he was going nowhere.

"This team of champions is not going away - we are here for the long ride," Ferguson told United Review.

"We will get better and if we apply ourselves in our normal fashion I see our 20th league title as nothing but the start of another decade of success.

"Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen, but I certainly don't have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see."

Ferguson has been around for so long, it is hard to imagine United existing without him, although that day must come soon, even if it is not in his immediate plans.

Certainly, veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs anticipates the Scot further strengthening his squad this summer, rather than considering his future.

"I don't expect many changes but the manager looks to strengthen where he can, whether we have lost a league or won it," Giggs told SiriusXM FC.

"He never stands still. He always wants to better the team.

"If that is bringing in one player, or bringing in two or three, he will assess with his staff.

"One of the manager's skills is that we tend to be one step ahead. He always looks to the next challenge.

"I am sure there will be a couple of players at least coming in.

"But we already have a good, young squad and a mix of experience and young players."

Play was halted on Sunday as a mark of respect after a 48-year-old Killie fan was taken fatally ill during the game.

Hibs followed Kilmarnock in paying tribute to the supporter.

A statement read: "The club would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Kilmarnock supporter, Jim Haswell, who tragically passed away after becoming seriously ill during Sunday's match."

Collum, in charge of his first Scottish Cup final on May 26, will be assisted by linesmen Willie Conquer and Martin Cryans, with Bobby Madden and John Beaton providing extra pairs of eyes behind the goals.

John Fleming, the SFA's head of referee operations, said: "The use of additional assistant referees has been successfully operated in a number of high-profile European competitions in recent years and is also in use in several domestic leagues across Europe.

"I believe this is a good opportunity to introduce the system to Scottish football, starting at this season's Scottish Cup final and, from next season onwards, also making use of the officials at the semi-final stage."

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