An unstoppable late shot from Yanic Wildschut gave Wigan a morale boosting injury time win against promotion rivals Walsall sending the Latics into the automatic promotion places.
Wigan made two changes for the match, returning to the system that performed so well in their last away match against Sheffield United with Sam Morsy returning to the starting line-up as a sweeper in front of a flat back four and a first start for Colclough on the right wing with Wabara and Wildschut dropping to the bench making his first start for the club in place of Wildschut.
As befits two sides pushing for promotion, the first thirty minutes was a largely tentative affair
with both sides more conscious of making a mistake rather than pushing forwards. The few highlights that there were fell to the Latics with good work by Perkins on the left seeing the diminutive midfielder firing a powerful low cross across the six yard area, narrowly eluding the lunging leg of Will Grigg.
The opening goal came soon afterwards when Walsall failed to clear a ball which fell to Morsy who fed McAleny whose powerful shot flew over the head of Etheridge into the net from the edge of the area, sending the large Wigan following wild with delight.
Wigan nearly made it two just before half time when a McAleny free kick beat the keeper but found the side netting and as the referee blew for half time , Wigan went off the pitch to a resounding chorus of applause but with both players and fans fully aware that the job was only half done.
Walsall hit the ground running at the start of the second half but with Wigan’s back four superbly marshalled by Craig Morgan, Wigan held firm, resulting in Walsall’s star striker Bradshaw left feeding on scraps of possession
It was deja vu for Grigg a few minutes later when Colclough put over a cross and Grigg again was agonisingly close to putting the ball into the net. Grigg then turned provider but McAleny fired the set up over the bar with Power better placed.
Grigg seemed desperate to score against his former club and his shot following good work by the attacking foray of Daniels went narrowly wide of the far post.
Latics were very much in control but a cheap foul by Perkins saw Walsall with a free kick on the edge of the area. The free kick was taken by Demetriou’s whose shot was blocked by the Wigan wall but the ball fell to Mantom, whose fantastic shot flew into the net past the unsighted Jaaskelainen unleashed an unstoppable effort from outside the box.
Walsall’s goal enthused the home side and Jaaskelainenen had to make two smart saves in a matter of minutes to prevent the subject of Latics fans boos Lalkovic( following a pathetic dive in the first half) and Bradshaw.
Latics fans had been chanting the name of Wildschut for some minutes and finally got their wish when the big Dutchman came on for Colclough. Grigg was the next to nearly score when his anticipation saw him beat the offside trap and find him bearing down on goal with only Etheridge to beat, beat the keeper he did but sadly for the Wigan striker his shot went wide of the goal when it seemed easier to score.
The game seemed to be heading for an honourable draw but Wildschut had other ideas, the Dutchman flew down the left cut inside and fired a low fizzing shot past the hand of Etheridge just inside the near hand post. This sparked mass celebrations behind the goal, some of which spilled onto the pitch. Walsall tried to find an equaliser and two corners had to be scrambled clear by the Wigan defence but the Latics held firm and secured a vital three points in their promotion push.
Team Line Up and Player Ratings
Jaaskelainen……..7, a quite first half but excellent in the second.
Daniels……………..7, good in defence, strong in attack, withdrawn
Morgan…………….9, immense. MOM
Pearce…………….8, solid and reliable
McCann…………..7, worked hard
Morsy………………8, excellent in the sweeper role.
Perkins……………..7, covered every blade of grass ( and mud)
Power……………….7, the creative heart of Wigan
Colclough………….7, worked hard, withdrawn
McAleny…………..7, took his goal well, withdrawn
Grigg………………..7, will rue his missed chances against his old club
Wildschut for Colclough….7, wonderful last gasp goal.
Wabara for Daniels………..N/A
Davies for McAleny……….N/A
Entertainment rating 6/10 tense but the right result
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