A goal within the first minute by Brighton’s Gary Gardner was enough to condemn Latics to defeat at the Amex Stadium. After a sluggish start Latics went on to have more possession and create more chances than the Seagulls, but they failed to convert their dominance into goals.
Uwe Rösler’s team which were expected to be amongst the Championship pace setters drop down to 19th place, which is only one point above the relegation zone. Sami Hyypia’s Brighton secured their first win in 12 matches and move up a place to 20th in the table.
Wigan made four changes from Saturday’s draw against Fulham with James McClean, Martyn Waghorn, Shaun Maloney and James Perch coming into the team. Long term absentees Ben Watson and Chris McCann took their place on the bench for the first time this season.
Latics suffered the crucial setback within the first minute as Elliot Bennett drove forward down the right hand side and crossed, and following a scramble, the ball fell to Gary Gardner who finished low past Scott Carson.
The Seagulls might have doubled their lead on 16 minutes when Kazenga LuaLua set up Joao Texeira in the box and his shot came back off the underside of Carson’s crossbar and the ball was cleared to safety.
Latics started to get a foothold in the game and in the 25th minute Espinoza broke down the left hand side and crossed the ball for Waghorn, but the striker’s diving header went just wide of the right hand post.
Espinoza was starting to create opportunities and Waghorn was getting into good goalscoring positions. The young Brighton keeper Christian Walton saved twice from Waghorn in quick succession, before the former Leicester City striker’s third effort, following Espinoza’s chest down, flew over the crossbar.
A Tavernier free-kick from the edge of the area was then well saved by Brighton’s Man of the Match Walton. Latics threatened again when Espinoza linked up with McClean who then fed Waghorn, but the cross was cleared.
The Seagulls went into the interval still 1-0 ahead but it was surely only a matter of time before Wigan would equalise?
Latics continued to dominate in the second period. Rob Kiernan’s header flashed across the Brighton goal following Tavernier’s corner. The Seagulls responded and Kiernan made a great block to deny Teixeira.
The young Brighton keeper Walton was having an excellent game and came to the home team’s rescue with two reflex saves in quick succession, firstly from Waghorn inside the area, secondly from Adam Forshaw’s powerful drive.
Shaun Maloney then drove towards goal and his 25 yard effort narrowly missed the right hand post. Espinoza then tried to get in on the act but his shot from outside the box went well over the crossbar.
Wigan were peppering Walton’s goal but nothing was going to get past the young Brighton stopper.
McManaman replaced McClean, Riera came on for Cowie and then Chris McCann replaced Forshaw after eight months on the injury list.
Latics pushed for the equaliser and Brighton were often camped in their own 18 yard box. Riera had an opportunity with three minutes of normal time remaining but his effort went wide of the right hand post.
Wigan’s final chance came in the fourth minute of injury time when Shaun Maloney’s free-kick from 20 yards out went over the defensive wall but also over the crossbar.
Latics had deserved at least a draw after dominating proceedings for most of the game, but their inability to convert their chances had once again been their downfall.