A late but crucial tap in by Marc Antoine Fortune following good work by substitute Grant Holt was enough to break Wigan’s goalless and winless away streak, a result that was reward for a performance low on quality but high on endeavour against spirited if limited opponents.
Owen Coyle opted to rotate his squad bringing in six players, once again in an effort to minimise the effect of a long round trip from Russia which saw the team fly back from Kazan to Bristol and train at Taunton F.C. to try and retain their freshness.
This seemed to have backfired as an insipid first half performance saw Yeovil dominate proceedings with livewire striker Joel Grant causing the Wigan defence most notably on the left with his constant efforts to beast the Wigan offside trap.
Wigan’s play for forty three minutes was a mess, passes went astray, balls were kicked up field to no one and long range shots didn’t even trouble toe keeper with the raucous home supporters in more danger of being hit than the back of the net.
Honourable exceptions in the first half were captain fantastic Emerson Boyce making his two hundredth start for Wigan and Ryan Shotton who following a mis- kick from Nicholls reacted quickly to head a goal bound shot away for a corner.
Nicholls also had to be lively diving to his left to tip a powerful shot around the post as Yeovil strove in vain to get the opening goal.
Wigan had really struggled to gain any forward momentum in the first half with key player Powell looking out of sorts but the away side sparked into life in the dying embers of the first half when a goal mouth scramble saw a shot hit the post and two follow up efforts scrambled of the line.
The paucity of quality in the first half from Wigan was highlighted by the biggest cheers of the day so far were reserved for back up keeper Mike Pollitt’s completing “the cross bar challenge” twice from the half way line during the break.
The second half was a vastly different animal as Wigan constantly pushed forwards in search of their first away win since the opening day thumping of Barnsley. Albrighton came into his own on the right wing constantly taking on the full back and seeking to find the ever willing Fortune. The Wigan fans gathered behind the Yeovil goal thought Wigan had taken the lead as Boyce slid in however the ball hit the side netting.
Wigan then created another goalmouth scramble with the ball being cleared off the line three times, by head, knee and foot as the home side tried frantically to stem the tide of Wigan pressure.
This pressure finally told when substitute Holt went to the right hand corner, beat the defender and fizzed a cross along the goal line which beat keeper Hennessey and Fortune tapped the ball home sending the six hundred’ish away fans wild with delight.
Yeovil pushed forwards in search of an equaliser but Wigan comfortably held out and could have increased the lead when McArthur broke free and played in Powell who only had to pass back to McArthur for an easy tap in. However the United loanee capped a miserable afternoon for him in the West Country by passing to hard and too far in front of McArthur and the chance went begging.
Line up and Player ratings
Nicholls……7, a couple of mistakes in first half but regained his composure well.
Boyce…..9, led by example, man of the match
Shotton…..8, grows in stature very game.
Barnett…..7, dependable as ever.
Perch……6, under the cosh in the first half.
McManaman……6, isolated on the left wing, withdrawn.
McCann……..6, Failed to impose himself on the game.
Watson…..6.5, constantly tried to drive Wigan forwards.
Powell…….6, struggled to make an impression
Albrighton……7, showed his class in the second half, withdrawn.
Fortune…..6.5, never gave up, withdrawn.
Holt ……….6.5, for McManaman, did well for the goal.
Espinoza …….n/a for Albrighton.
McArthur…….n/a for Fortune
Sub not used
Pollitt…..10 completing cross bar challenge twice for half way line
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