Wigan staged a late recovery to turn around what was heading for yet another away defeat with three goals in the last ten minutes, sending the thousands travelling away fans wild with delight and leaving the home side stunned after a game in which they were very much the dominant force.
Wigan were forced to change the side which ground out a one nil victory last time out against Crewe with international call ups robbing the side of Kenny and Grigg and injury denuding the side of captain Craig Morgan. Their replacements were debutant Vuckic as an attacking midfielder playing behind Craig Davies, Murray was handed a first start in midfield with Power switching to the right wing back role and Leon Barnett came into the back three for what would prove an eventful day for the defender.
The game was entertaining from start to finish with both sides going for goal at every opportunity and playing a w expansive game albeit one lacking in pace. Chesterfield seemed to be having success down the left with Power looking particularly vulnerable to pressure and for Wigan assured play by Murray saw Vuckic and Davies combine well together but find keeper Lee unbeatable in the first half.
Chesterfield dominated possession and the first real chance came to the home side but a superb block by Daniel blocked what looked likely to be a goal bound shot. Chesterfield’s next chance was from a set piece when Evatt rose unchallenged but his powerful header was pushed away for a corner by O’Donnell in the Wigan goal
Novak was a thorn in the Wigan side and his physical presence resulted in both him and Daniels receiving treatment following an accidental clash of heads. This didn’t seem to affect the strikers play and as he cut in from the left he went down in the area. The referee blew for an infringement but to the Wigan fan’s relief it was from an earlier infringement outside the area. The Chesterfield players protested demanding a penalty but the referee correctly refused to buckle and the free kick came to naught.
Latics were being out passed and were losing the possession battle but had two really good chances late one. First Daniels fired through a crowded penalty area but his shot rebounded off the post. Then following good work by Davies, Jacobs found himself one on one with Lee but he shot tamely at the keepers legs and the ball went away from the goal
Murray had a shot blocked on the line as Latics pushed for the opening goal and both sides trooped off at half time satisfied with the work that they had put in to the forty five minutes (plus six added on).
Both sides started the second half still playing the expansive football but Chesterfield seemed to be having the best of the exchanges. Latics were under the cosh but broke from deep within their own half with Perkins driving the side forwards he found the willing run of Davies who lost his man but couldn’t keep his shot down from close range, the ball amazingly going over the bar. Chesterfield made Wigan pay with a quick break down the right and when they switched the ball to the left they found they had two unmarked men with Power out of position. A quick pass found Gardner and his curling shot found the top corner past the despairing outstretched hand of O’Donnell and Wigan were behind.
Shortly after Wigan were two down when a Jones free kick came into the box. Barnett was facing his own goal under apparently no pressure but he inexplicably headed it past his own keeper for the first goal a Wigan player has scored away all season.
Wigan seemed to be shell-shocked and looked like they were playing the game out but the three substitutes played a major part in turning things around. McCann showed the way by several long range runs from the back and this momentum saw the ball go to debutant Kellett who won a corner. The ball was only half cleared and fell to Barnett who made amends firing a low powerful shot through a morass of legs to bring Wigan back into the game.
Latics were roared on by their travelling faithful who hoped that they might snatch a draw and from another McCann run, Chesterfield failed to make a telling tackle until a clumsy foul in the area by Hird saw the referee award the penalty kick. Davies stepped up to smash the ball into the net and Wigan were back level.
Wigan attacked with gusto and Hiwula almost snatched a winner but his close range shot amazingly went over the bar. Chesterfield’s respite was short lived however when a cross from Kellett out on the left found it was to Hiwula and the loanee striker made no mistake in blasting the ball into the net for an unlikely turnaround.
There was still time for a final chance for Chesterfield to snatch an equaliser but a fine two handed diving punch from O’Donnell ensured that at full time Wigan went home with the spoils and left Chesterfield to rue on how a game that they had dominated for so long had slipped out of their grasp?
Line Up and Player Ratings (3-5-1-1)
O’Donnell……7, some fine saves kept us in the game
Pearce…………7, solid leaders role
Daniels………..7.5, immense performance, withdrawn
Barnett………..8, MOM a really good performance bar a weird own goal.
Power………..5, looked lost as a wing back and struggled with pace and position.
James……….6, defends well but tendency to turn back inside instead of crossing.
Perkins……..7, week in week out solid performances.
Murray………7, looked good on his first start.
Jacobs……..6, a subdued performance from him coupled with missing a sitter.
Vuckic……..7, a threat throughout, withdrawn
Davies……. 7.5, led the line superbly.
McCann for Daniels……7, turned the game when he came on
Hiwula for Vuckic………7, looks like the striker we’ve been crying out for.
Keller for Murray…………7, pushed forwards superbly
Entertainment rating 10/10, how could it be anything else.
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