Wigan Athletic comfortably defeated a mid table Southend United yesterday in a game which was all but over before half time, leaving only a mathematical meltdown capable of preventing the Latics from being promoted.
WIgan made three changes to the starting line up with recalls from the bench for Daniels and Wildschut and a welcome recall from suspension for key man David Perkins with Wabara, Morsy and McAleny the players to make way.
Wigan showed their intent to attack from the very first minute when Warnock who has been a revelation since joining the Latics bursting out of defence and his powerful shot could only be palmed out be debutant keeper Smith to Jacobs, who with an open goal, could only head over the bar.
Wigan weren’t put off their stride by this and with Power and Perkins pulling the strings in a dominant midfield performance feeding the mercurial attacking talents of Jacobs and Wildschut , the Shrimper’s defence was pulled apart time and again with star striker Grigg looking dangerous every time he touched the ball.
Wigan continued to attack with aplomb and it was no surprise that within ten minutes of the kick off that they scored. Once again Jacobs was the key, feeding the ball through to the rampaging McCann whose low hard shot beat Smith to ease any nerves following gaining only one point out of the last six
One nearly became two for McCann when his powerful shot rebounded off the post to be scrambled clear but the respite for Southend was only temporarily when this time it was the turn of Wildschut to hit the post with a shot, the rebound fell nicely to Grigg, who was left with an easy tap in and Wigan were in complete control.
It was one way traffic with Jacobs and Wildschut both going close and Grigg effectively ended the game by scoring his second goal when a fantastic through ball from Jacobs found the run of Grigg and he showed composure to finish in front of the increasingly distraught travelling away fans in the North Stand.
Jacobs nearly made it four from a corner when his shot from a short corner just narrowly went over the bar.
Half time saw the Latics troop off to a standing ovation from the ten thousandish home fans within the home stands.
Latics dominance continued in the second half, with the visitors pinned in their own half for long spells of the contest.
Any hopes within the away fans ranks that their heroes could spark a second half recovery were quickly dispelled within five minutes when from deep within their own half , Jacobs fed the rampaging Dutchman Wildschut, he ran down the flank, cut along the deadball line before returning the ball to the supporting Jacobs who made no mistake scoring Latics’ fourth.
Grigg was looking for his hat trick and nearly made it when his sharp anticipation saw him beat the offside trap and the keeper but unfortunately also the far post as the ball went narrowly wide.
Minutes later Grigg wheeled away in celebration of his third only to see it chalked off for offside. McCann had broken down the left and his pass found Warnock whose low powerful shot was stopped one handed by Smith. The loose ball fell to Grigg but as soon as he became active the assistant referee raised his flag.
Wigan then opted to rest key players, the first to leave the field Jacobs to be replaced by McAleny, Wigan sat back then, inviting Southend to attack but Wigan’s defence seemed to be in total control and a clean sheet in the offing when a cross going to no-one was deflected into his own goal by Wigan skipper Morgan.
Wigan then opted to rest Power and Grigg , bringing on Morsy and Vuckic and the Latics comfortably saw the game out without any further problems leaving the Latics needing only a point at Blackpool next week to seal promotion.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
Jaaskelainen …….6, could have sat in a deckchair and read the programme
Daniels……………..6, fine skill for such a big man
Pearce………………6, competent and effective
Morgan……………..6, unlucky to mar a fine performance with an own goal
Warnock……………9,MOM, sign him up now
McCann…………….8, irrepressible, a fine performance
Power………………..7, back to his best, withdrawn
Perkins………………8, why isn’t he in the PFA team of the year
Wildschut……………7, attacked with gusto
Jacobs……………….8.5, a key player for Wigan, withdrawn
Grigg………………….8, unlucky not to leave the DW with 5 goals to his credit, withdrawn
McAleny for Jacobs …..6, did ok,
Morsy for Power……….6, solid
Vuckic for Grigg………. 6, innovative
Entertainment rating………8/10, a one-sided game but you can only play whats in front of you