An early debut goal from attacking midfielder Michael Jacobs was enough to see Wigan secure the three points against a technically skilful but shot shy Crewe side to maintain Wigan’s unbeaten home record this season
Wigan manager Gary Caldwell made three changes to the side defeated last time out against Gillingham , Power and Kenny replacing the injured Junior and McNaughton respectively and a welcome return from injury in Jason Pearce making his season debut, replacing McCann in a defensive back three.
Wigan made a lively start with the direct running of Jacobs causing all sorts of problems for the Crewe defence with upfront powerhouse that is Craig Davies adding to the Crewe defence’s problems. This sustained pressure nearly bore fruit early on with Grigg testing Garratt in the Crewe net from close range, the Crewe man showing he was up to the task with a fine reflex save.
Garratt could do nothing about the goal however when Jacobs lost his man from a corner and heading past the stranded keeper which sparked widespread protests from the Crewe players who claimed that Jacobs had pushed his defender to gain the space . These pleas were in vein and the goal stood.
This gave Wigan the impetus to push forwards in search of a second goal but all too often good attacking moves were spoiled by a propensity to pass back into midfield when a ball into the area may have yielded results. Min culprit in this was James who continued to attack with gusto down the left only to pass backwards.
Wigan didn’t have it all their own way however and Crewe’s slick passing football saw them open the Wigan defence up on a couple of occasions, the first forcing O’Donnell into a smart save and then Inman fired a powerful shot which hit the post and much to Wigan’s relief came out into open play.
Man of the match Jacobs was a constant thorn in the Crewe defense’s side and nearly scored again when thwarted in the area by the keeper. Garratt prevented Jacobs again blocking a shot from the effervescent Wigan midfielder
Crewe had one further chance to equalise when O’Donnell had to be alert to save a goal bound shot by Kingsley.
The second half started with Wigan employing a cunning ploy which bore fruit earlier this season when they broke from the kick off down the middle with Grigg and Jacobs exchanging passes and then Jacobs powerful shot forced another fine save from the overworked Garratt.
Hopes that this would spark a rout though were sadly misplaced as Wigan allowed themselves to get sucked into a midfield passing battle, both sides playing a neat passing game with very little end product. Wigan’s best chance came not from one such move however but a piece of opportunism from Davies who burst down the left fired in a beautiful powerful cross from the dead ball line and an instinctive header by Grigg came back off the post with Garratt well beaten.
Other chances were few and far between with Crewe trying to pass the ball into the net but Wigan’s back three with Daniels outstanding blocked anything that came their way.
Crewe continued to threaten going forward, and substitute Lauri Dalla Valle highlighted their intent when he headed narrowly wide of O’Donnell’s goal just a minute later.
Gary Caldwell took action twenty minutes from time, and introduced Jordan Flores and Sean Murray into the contest, with the former coming on to make his home league debut for his hometown club.
The visitors continued to press forward in sustained periods of possession, but Caldwell’s men held firm, to secure back-to-back home wins with a hard fought three points.
Full time brought to an end a game which should have ah a far more conclusive result than it ultimately did and Wigan trooped off the field knowing that they will have to be more ruthless in weeks to come if they are to progress up the table.
Team Line up and Player Ratings
O’Donnell…….7, sharp saves by the Wigan keeper.
Kenny………….6, solid at the back, tried hard going forwards.
Daniels……….. 8, outstanding defensive performance
Morgan…………7, a competent no frills display
Pearce…………7, a welcome return
James……….5, all too often undid good work by passing backwards, withdrawn
Power………..6, some good passing but faded in second half
Perkins………7, solid tenacious and industrious, a key player for Wigan
Jacobs…….8.5, MOM the creative force of the team
Davies…….7, powerful work on and off the ball caused Crewe problems, withdrawn
Grigg………7, unlucky not to score, worked hard, withdrawn.
Flores for James……5, little chance to influence proceedings.
Murray for Davies…..5, little chance to influence proceedings.
Hiwula for Grigg………n/a
Entertainment rating…..5, lots of pretty passing football but little end product
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