A hard fought victory saw Wigan maintain their unbeaten run, continuing their push towards automatic promotion but they were made to fight all the away by a spirited Rochdale side who had to play for more than half a game following the first half sending off of Henderson
Wigan made two changes to the side which triumphed at Swindon Town on Good Friday, Pearce and Colclough starting in place of Daniels and McCann with McAleny returning to the bench.
Rochdale started the better and dominated the first five minutes attacking with pace causing no little trouble for the Wigan defence with the pace of Allen in midfield allied to the power and skill of Mendes-Laing the main causes of the Latics angst.
Wigan are no pushovers however and with Morsy, Power and Perkins in midfield stemming the flow of Rochdale’s attacks and the pace and power of Wildschut on the left wing, the Latics quickly hit their stride. Wigan’s first real chance was a penalty shout, the first of several during the course of the game for both sides when a Wildschut shot hit the hand of McNulty but the referee waved away the Latics claims.
Rochdale arrived in good form and this confidence showed throughout the game and Mendez-Laing got passed Pearce who recovered well and got back to make a vital challenge just as the Rochdale man was about to shoot.
The key moment of the game was the sending off of Henderson. A foul by Pearce on the Rochdale saw Henderson appear to react by kicking out at the Wigan vice captain sparking a minor melee. The referee spent what seemed an eternity discussing the incident with his fourth official before producing the red card and Rochdale were down to ten men much to the chagrin of Rochdale manager Keith Hill
Wigan kept their calm and didn’t try and force the game despite having a man advantage and yet again their best chance was another penalty claim for handball, the claims again waved away by the referee.
Just before half time Grigg showed great anticipation to follow a wonderful break by Perkins but the Wigan strikers lunge at the midfielders cross came up just short and the chance went begging.
Manager Caldwell opted to shake things up at half time introducing of McAleny for Colclough. and the young loanee immediately injected pace into the Wigan side as Rochdale defended deeper and deeper trying to stem the waves of Wigan attacks. For all Wigan’s efforts clear cut chances were few and far between and Caldwell opted to up the ante by withdrawing defender Pearce to replace him with attacking midfielder Vuckic and neat skill by the latter fed the ball to Power whose shot was well saved by Lillis in the Rochdale goal
Wigan heaped pressure on the Rochdale goal which seemed to lead a charmed life but eventually the pressure told when a break by Wildschut saw his shot come back into play off the crossbar, the scramble that followed saw Grigg and Vuckic challenge for the ball with the Rochdale defence and keeper the ball eventually squirming past them all to the foot of McAleny who banged the ball over from close range to the relief of the players and supporters.
Rochdale were stung into action and opted to introduce former Latics’ player Grant Holt whose reception from the Wigan faithful was mixed to say the least. The ex Wigan player showed some neat lay offs most notably to fellow substitute Vincenti but thankfully for Wigan these chances came to naught.
Power broke through for Wigan but his smart shot was saved well by the legs of Lillis. Rochdale continued to push for an equaliser but Wigan held firm for a hard fought win to increase the pressure on the league leaders Burton Albion
Jaaskelainen …….6, a quiet afternoon.
Wabara……………..6, defended well
Pearce……………..7, solid at the back, looked to push forwards, withdrawn
Morgan……………..6, a composed performance
Warnock……………8, MOM , a vital cog in the Latics promotion wheel
Morsy……………….7, controlled the midfield, withdrawn
Power……………….7, buzzed around like an angry bee
Perkins………………7.5, covered the length of the pitch time and again, irrepressible.
Wildschut…………..7, looked dangerous every time he touched the ball.
Colclough…………..6, struggled to play his normal game, withdrawn
Grigg…………………6, missed a couple of chances
McAleny for Colclough…..7, lifted the game
Vuckic for Pearce………. 6.5, provided the classy touches
McCann for Morsy……….6.5, solid and competant
Entertainment Rating……….9/10, what’s not to like?
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