Wigan 2-2 Aston Villa

Emmerson Boyce Joe Bennett

Wigan signed off their eight-year stay in the Premier League with a spirited draw against Aston Villa in an entertaining clash at the DW Stadium.

Darren Bent opened the scoring for Villa early on with a smart finish but Roberto Martinez's side fought back.

Emmerson Boyce equalised with a powerful header and Wigan took the lead when Nathan Baker scored an own goal.

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Lambert not expecting Villa exodus

But Wigan were denied all three points when Ron Vlaar levelled after the break with a spectacular half-volley.

Whether the match will be Martinez's last as Wigan manager remains to be seen with the Spaniard one of the frontrunners to replace Manchester United-bound David Moyes at Everton.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan said he would not stand in the way of Martinez if he wanted to leave but remained optimistic he would stay with the FA Cup winners despite their relegation to the Championship.

Buoyed by a vocal away support, many of whom were wearing masks bearing the face of club captain Stiliyan Petrov, who recently announced his retirement from football after a battle with acute leukaemia, Villa took an early lead.

Gabby Agbonlahor's slick through ball found Bent and Villa's record signing cut back inside on to his right foot before he struck a low shot from just inside the area which went in off the post.

The goal was Bent's first in the Premier League since he netted in Villa's 1-1 draw with West Brom on 30 September.

Wigan almost equalised straight away when Arouna Kone found space inside the area only to be denied by a last-ditch block by Villa defender Baker.

The hosts levelled soon after though when Roger Espinoza's high cross found Boyce in the six-yard box.

Boyce held off the attentions of Villa left-back Joe Bennett and gave goalkeeper Brad Guzan no chance with a powerful header into the top-right corner of the net.

Wigan almost caught Villa on the counter attack when Kone broke clear but with the visitors' defence outnumbered he over-hit a pass intended for James McCarthy.

Former Villa midfielder Shaun Maloney had a relatively quiet game against his old club although he tested the reflexes of Guzan with a dipping free-kick.

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'Bright future' for Wigan - Martinez

And it was from Maloney's corner on the stroke of half-time that Wigan went ahead after a scramble inside the six-yard box.

Ben Watson's shot was cleared off the line by Ashley Westwood but the ball rebounded off Baker's left boot and into the net.

Boyce continued to be a menace in the Villa penalty box after the interval and saw a close-range shot glance the top of the crossbar.

But Villa equalised with a spectacular goal from captain Vlaar who controlled a high free-kick into the area from Bennett then hooked a brilliant half-volley into the top-left corner of the net.

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez: "I will have a full week to sit down with the chairman to talk about things. Whatever happens I think Wigan has a bright future.

"It's a day of mixed feelings but the fans understand the magnitude of winning the FA Cup. The first team to win it and get relegated shows you how difficult it is to win the FA Cup.

"Now is also the time to look back at all the great games we have played in the Premier League over the years."

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "It's been a hard season but I've loved it. It's a huge pressure and we are in transition at the moment.

"The last four or five months we have been terrific which bodes well for the future. It's an exciting time and you can see the crowd are right behind us.

"The fans never once got on our back and they can see what is happening at the football club. We will think now about the areas we can to improve and help the club to progress."