Tim Chow making his home debut showed great anticipation to find space in the penalty area yesterday and head home the opening goal coupled with a fine performance which went a long way to securing Wigan’s first home win in seven and a half months.
Gary Caldwell made two changes to the starting eleven which lost to Millwall in midweek with Chow and Cowie coming into the side with Fortune and Boyce dropping to the bench. There was one further change with striker McKay replacing the suspended Waghorn on the bench.
In the reverse game in Brighton, Wigan were behind in the first minute and it was very nearly deja vu when a Mackail-Smith shot forced Carson to save smartly at his near post, the ball going out for a corner.
Despite the pressure on Wigan to gain the three points in a last ditch battle for survival the games first stanza was very low key with both sides feeling each other out, appearing to be frightened of making any errors which could cost them a goal.
Wigan were totally dominant in midfield for the first forty five minuteswith Chow, Kim and Kvist out passing and out tackling their opponents, espousing a more fluent passing game than had been seen of late but as so often this season clear cut chances were few and far between
Wigan’s best early chance fell to Pennant following good work by Bong down the left, his low cross to the edge of the area around the winger unmarked but he struggled to curl his foot around the ball which went well wide of the post.
Brighton’s main outlet was long balls through to Mackail-Smith but the high balls to the Brighton striker were comfortably dealt with by Maguire who was so dominant over his opponent that the Brighton striker was withdrawn at half time.
Wigan’s persistence finally bore fruit when a fine run down the right by Pennant produced a wonderful cross and Chow anticipated the ball running onto it late and heading home his first goal for Wigan Athletic.
Within a minute Brighton were almost level when good work by Calderon found Kayal and his shot was well saved by Carson.
Wigan continued to push forwards and a long range shot by Kvist tested Stockdale in the Brighton goal.
Wigan had a fantastic chance to double their lead when an error by the Brighton defence saw Pennant put McClean through on goal but with only the keeper to beat the Irishman’s shot was well saved by the keeper and the chance went begging.
Latics went off the pitch to a enthusiastic round of applause from a crowd appreciative at the energy commitment and skill they had just witnessed.
Brighton began the second half with more drive and purpose and gradually began to match Wigan in midfield which enabled them to find the willing runs of LuaLua and O’Grady. This persistence finally found its reward when following a corner conceded by Cowie reacting well to an attack by the skilful Bruno, the ball came into the Wigan penalty area and Stephens who was totally unmarked fired a low powerful shot past Carson.
Lualua was a constant threat in the second half and almost made it twowhen a powerful run down the left and shot which narrowly passed the outside of the post thanks to the out stretched hand of Carson.
Brighton continued to up the ante and Wigan had to dig deep into their mental reserves to keep the score lien level. Manager Gary Caldwell opted to make a double substitution for Wigan, withdrawing Kvist and Cowie and replacing them with Fortune and Boyce.
The game then became one of attack and counter attack as Wigan mindful of the fact that one point would probably be not enough to keep them up come May and Brighton seemingly determined to reward their noisy away following with a win.
Fortune very quickly settled into his supporting role up front, laying off some quality balls and when he went down in the area the referee MrHill surprisingly waved away what seemed a strong shout for a penalty
Once again Kim was Wigan’s most dangerous player and his shot hit the side netting. Eventually Wigan made their adventurous play tell when Fortune got to the byline, his cross was deflected towards the goal but Perch made sure blasting the ball over the line from close range.
Wigan continued to try and increase the lead and Fortune was guilty of a glaring miss only managing to scuff the ball when it seemed easier to score.
The final whistle brought to an end a very long winless run at home and the players left the pitch to a deserved standing ovation from the long suffering faithful who carry the hope of a great escape into their final home game of the season against Wolves.
Team Line up and Player ratings
Carson…….8, pulled off some superb saves.
Perch………7, cool and confident under pressure.
Bong……….6, attacked with gusto.
Pearce…….7, another solid performance.
Maguire……8, totally dominant over the Brighton strikeforce
Pennant…..7, some fine silky skills, withdrawn.
Kvist……….7, a fine performance as a sweeper, withdrawn.
Kim……….8.5, Sharp, skillful,
Chow…….7, worked hard and scored a fine goal.
Cowie……6, no frills but worked hard, withdrawn
McClean…7, another committed no nonsense performance.
Fortune…….6, worked hard.
Boyce……….6, defended well
Attendance ………… 11,100
Entertainment rating 6/10…. lot of nerves on show but a deserved win
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