Wigan lose captain as Reading cling on

26 April 2008
Steve Bruce believes Wigan Athletic will have to battle for their Premier League survival without Mario Melchiot after the club captain limped off in the first half of their goalless draw with fellow strugglers Reading, who were happy with a desperate point.Melchiot has a hip problem and was replaced by Ryan Taylor in the 26th minute. Bruce says the Dutchman's season is all but finished. The Wigan manager said: "I would think that would be him for the rest of the season, even if it is just a small abductor tear. He has hurt himself and I can't see him playing in the last two games."

The match was a terrible exhibition of top-flight football as the significance of the game seemed to affect both sides. Wigan knew a win would make them safe and Reading knew a loss would almost certainly condemn them to Championship football next season.

Players from both sides were visibly riddled with nerves and a goalless draw was all both teams deserved. Bruce admitted as much when he added: "They were two nervous and anxious teams fighting for their lives.The occasion and the magnitude got to them and they forgot to play the game of football.

"It was nervous and tense and sometimes it easier than away from home but who knows it could be the point that takes us over the line.

Reading manager Steve Coppell agreed with his counterpart about the lack of quality on display and he claimed his side's lack of clear cut scoring chances was something they would have to work on.

Coppell said: "It wasn't a feast on the eyes but any day in the Premiership is a good day and I am happy to have got a point and I would have taken that beforehand.

"We didn't play for a point and I want to make that clear. We only play one way, we are not good enough to adapt to playing different ways.

"We just have to play now, we have to go flat out for 180 minutes and we have 15 days to prepare for two games and no-one can complain about that.

"We have always been quite fluent in front of goal so it is something we will work on and try and get sharper and better at.

"We got bogged down on 22 points and then we were looking like getting bogged down on 32 so I am just pleased to have that monkey off my back."