For the second week running, Wigan clawed back a two nil score line and for the second week running victory was sealed in injury time, unfortunately for the Latics and their raucous travelling support this time the victory went to the opposition as man mountain Ikpeazu bundled the ball home after a goal mouth scramble to sink ten men Wigan.
Gary Caldwell made two changes from the side which performed late heroics at Chesterfield last weekend, Kenny returning to right wing back to replace Power and McCann earning a start for the injured Murray.
But after Barnett was shown a red card for bringing down last man Enoch Andoh, Latics just fell short despite giving it everything to get back into what turned out to be a real thrill.
Vale tore into Wigan from the off and with pacy wide man giving Kenny an afternoon that he will have nightmares about and Grant dominating centre midfield , looking to release Ikpeazu , Wigan were on the back foot. They didn’t help themselves by standing off the Vale midfield, allowing them to encroach well into the Wigan half before attempting a tackle. This coupled with the daft tactic of the keeper to play the ball to his defence before receiving it back allowed the Vale to exert dominance in terms of possession and Wigan had a narrow escape when a cross from the right found Ikpeazu completely unmarked but his header merely sent the ball away from goal towards the touchline when it seemed easier to score.
Wigan were not completely out of the game and Jacobs had a good chance which he failed to take and McCann was inches short of getting on the end of a good cross by Davies.
Vale continued to pile on the pressure and it eventually told when a good interception by McCann was undone by a poor pass from the Irishman went straight to Grant in an attacking midfield position and his powerful shot beat the dive of O’Donnell ending up in the top corner of the net. 1-0.
Wigan were stung into action when a Davies shot wasn’t dealt with and Perkins ghosted across the edge of the post but his eventually show went over the bar.
Vuckic was injured in the move and limped off to be replaced by Hiwula with Caldwell seizing the opportunity to re-jig his defence with Daniels being withdrawn and Kellett sent on to set up a 4-4-2 line up instead of the starting 3-5-1-1.
Wigan looked more comfortable going forwards with two forwards and Davies had a powerful shot blocked just before half time following good work by Hiwula.
Vale started the second half again on the front foot with Wigan producing some desperate blocks to try and nullify the goal scoring attempts of Foley and Ikpeazu. Vale continued to ramp up the pressure with several corners won as Wigan struggled to clear their lines. From one such corner the ball fell in the area to Dodd’s and his powerful shot was blasted through a morass of bodies into the net and for the fourth time this season Latics had conceded two goals in an away match. 2-0.
As with last week this galvanised Wigan into action, the introduction of Grigg into the fray coupled with yet another defensive re-organisation following the withdrawal of James so Wigan pour forwards searching for a way back into the game. Grigg wasted a good chance when he failed to control the ball when only two yards from goal. Man of the match Davies showed the others how to do it when he managed to win a ball down by the dead ball line and his bullocking run saw him put the ball across the area and McCann made no mistake firing Wigan back into the game. 2-1.
Wigan continued to push for the great escape with Kellett looking like a real find with his pushing down the left and Jacobs moving around in search of an opening. Davies forced Alnwick into a fine save and then turned provider to McCann who was thwarted by Alnwick. Grigg went down in the penalty area but a penalty would have been a harsh call but Wigan kept pushing and were rewarded when following a flurry of corners, Barnett rose to meet Jacobs set piece and headed unchallenged into the net. 2-2.
Wigan continued to push for the win but perhaps displaying a tactical naivety allowed Vale to break and with Andoh seemingly through on goal, Barnett’s clumsy challenged felled the Ghanaian resulting in a red card for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. The free kick came to nothing but very soon after the ball was punted back into the area and with Latics failing to convincingly clear the ball, Ikpeazu blasted the ball home for the winner.
Wigan had little chance to claw back the deficit and the full time whistle left the Wigan fans wondering just how good their team could be if they started playing positively from the off?
Team line up and Ratings (3-5-1-1 then 4-4-2)
O’Donnell……6, a few fine saves
Kenny………..4, a ‘mare of a game
James………..5, kept busy, withdrawn
Daniels………5, competent, withdrawn.
Barnett………7, excellent performance until his justified sending off.
Pearce………7, some telling blocks
McCann……6, redeemed his error for the first goal by scoring one of his own
Perkins……..7, not only had to dice with Grant, he had to cover for Kenny.
Jacobs……..6, lacked his usual attacking prowess.
Vuckic………5, little chance to shine, withdrawn.
Davies………, MOM an inspiration to the rest
Hiwula for Vuckic…..6, lively without penetrating the opposition defence.
Kellett for Daniels…..6, showed some good attacking flair
Grigg for James……..5, didn’t influence the game as hoped.
Entertainment rating 10/10, not dull watching Latics
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