SCOTLAND winger Shaun Maloney felt he owed Wigan his last-gasp equaliser in Sunday’s dramatic 1-1 draw with QPR, which could yet prove instrumental to their Barclays Premier League survival.
Maloney rifled home a free-kick deep into injury time after toiling against ten men for 70 minutes to secure a point, which was insufficient to lift them out of the bottom three
It was his fifth goal of the season and the 30-year-old former Celtic forward was pleased to have delivered after producing what he considered to be a sub-standard display at Loftus Road.
“It was needed because it was one of my poorer performances for the club, so I needed to do something to try and rescue the match. Fortunately, the free-kick went in,” he said.
Maloney was hardly alone in his frustration as most of Wigan’s players struggled alarmingly as they failed to take advantage of Bobby Zamora’s 21st-minute dismissal for kicking Jordi Gomez in the head.
“After the game, we realised that for 85 minutes or so it was a disappointing performance from us. Our manager told us that at half-time,” Maloney said. “It wasn’t quite good enough from us for large parts of the game. It wasn’t because of nerves.
“When they went down to ten men, they shifted into two banks of four with the lone threat up front. It probably had the opposite effect on us, we took our foot off the gas. We didn’t want to, it’s just something that spread throughout the team, particularly the forward players, myself included.”
Wigan’s bid to spend another season in the Premier League is interrupted on Saturday by their FA Cup semi-final against Millwall at Wembley.
Maloney hopes Sunday’s disappointment against QPR will offer a reminder of what will be required against the Championship side if the Latics are to reach the final. “It would be great if we can get back to the type of performance we showed against Norwich and Newcastle. If we do that, we’ll have a better chance of winning,” he said.
“Millwall are in the division below so people will make us favourites. That’s just something we have to embrace. We need to match the work rate of Millwall, which is something we didn’t do against QPR.
“The cup is very important, but it hasn’t been mentioned too much at the club until this week. It will be a big occasion. The main priority of our season is to stay in the Premier League, but, as you get further in the cup, each round becomes more important.”
It was a sickening climax for QPR manager Harry Redknapp, who now has only six matches to bridge the seven-point gap to safety with three of those games to be played without the suspended Zamora.