Wigan’s unbeaten home record came to a freezing halt at the DW Stadium as Brighton won 1-0. Andrew Crofts secured the victory for the visitors with a header on 72 minutes after Wigan keeper Lee Nicholls had initially brilliantly saved Jake Forster-Caskey’s header.
The Seagulls deserved their victory after imposing their passing game on a misfiring Latics. The away side dominated possession for long periods and created several clear-cut chances. Wigan did have opportunities, particularly when substitute Grant Holt had a one-on-one with Brighton keeper Tomasz Kuzsczak, but the striker uncharacteristically missed the target.
Wigan manager Owen Coyle had retained the same line-up from the victory at Yeovil with Aston Villa loanee Marc Albrighton making his full home debut. Brighton had several players returning to the squad with midfielders Andrea Orlandi, Kemy Agustien and Liam Bridcutt all appearing on the substitutes bench.
In freezing conditions Wigan had the first sight of goal when Leon Barnett met Ben Watson’s s corner at the near post but his shot went wide.
Brighton keeper Kuzsczak was soon called into the action, first to deny Chris McCann’s header and then saving from Emmerson Boyce’s long-range effort.
However, it wasn’t one way traffic and the Seagulls nearly took the lead on eight minutes when right-back Bruno Saltor volley was well saved by Nicholls.
Ben Watson was then unlucky not to give the home team an 11th-minute lead after completing a neat one-two with Marc-Antoine Fortune and blasting a shot just wide of goal.
Manchester United loanee Nick Powell then produced a sublime piece of skill to evade his marker but his driven shot was comfortably saved by Kuszczak.
Powell was proving to be a major threat and he nearly gave Wigan the lead just before half time when he produced an excellent long-range effort inches wide of the Brighton goal.
Wigan had probably had the better of the first half chances, but the away team were dominating possession and always looked a threat on the counter attack.
Immediately after the break, Oscar Garcia’s team nearly took the lead when an unmarked Forster-Caskey headed straight at Nicholls.
Callum McManaman was having a relatively quiet game but he produced a powerful long-range effort on 52 minutes that Kuszczak did well to save.
Coyle replaced Fortune with Holt on 60 minutes. The big striker struggled to get into the game until he shook off Gordon Greer to go one-on-one with Kuszczak but he put his effort agonizingly wide of the goal.
Soon afterwards the Seagulls capitalised on Holt’s miss as they took the lead. The excellent Latics keeper Lee Nicholls had made a top drawer save from Forster-Caskey’s header but Crofts was on hand to head home.
Craig Conway nearly doubled Brighton’s lead after unleashing a stinging shot which Nicholls did well to save.
Wigan desperately pushed forward in search of the equaliser and it looked as though they had secured a point in the 90th minute when substitute James McClean’s cross was met by Holt’s powerful header but Kuszczak’s full length diving save denied the former Norwich striker.
Brighton can be pleased with their away day and will be confident in the knowledge that with key players coming back to fitness they should be in the promotion mix at the end of the season.
Latics will be very disappointed to have surrendered their unbeaten home record but they will be hoping to make a quick return to winning ways on Thursday night in the Europa League against Zulte Waregem and thereby qualify for the round of 32.
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