Wigan Athletic’s defensive frailties were evident as they lost 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday in a game in which they should have secured at least a point. Latics took a 26th minute lead through a Chris McCann header but the Owls equalised almost immediately through Stevie May and with Wigan pushing forward a mistake by Emmerson Boyce allowed May to grab a second.
Manager Malky Mackay made two changes to the starting line up from the draw against Middlesbrough with Shaun Maloney unavailable due to illness replaced by Ben Watson and James McClean preferred to Roger Espinoza on the left of midfield.
Latics started positively with Adam Forshaw driving into the Wednesday box and appearing to be brought down by Glenn Loovens, but referee Chris Kavanagh dismissed the Latics players’ appeals.
Wednesday then went close at the other end when Atdhe Nuhiu’s header flew over, then May headed straight at Scott Carson.
Latics came back when Callum McManaman had a shot well saved by Keiren Westwood at his near post.
Following more Latics pressure, Wednesday broke away and Jose Semedo’s powerful drive beat Carson, rebounded off the post and fell straight to Chris Maguire whose shot was parried away by Carson.
In the 26th minute Latics took the lead following McClean’s right-wing corner when McCann powered home a header at the near post. A little composure at this time could have been crucial but Latics switched off and Wednesday equalised almost immediately from the restart. Wigan’s static defence allowed May plenty of space and the Scottish international finished comfortably past Carson.
Latics went forward and tried to respond quickly, but Wednesday broke away and Carson pulled off a brilliant save from the former Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe.
McManaman unleashed a drive which forced Westwood to parry and McClean nearly capitalised on the loose ball, but the Wednesday keeper recovered just in time.
McManaman then freed McClean on the left, and his deep cross found Fortune at the far post, but Westwood pulled off another good save.
It was end-to-end stuff as the half drew to a close but neither team had gained the upper hand by the interval.
Mackay reshuffled the defensive line up at the interval with Ivan Ramis replaced, James Perch slotting in at right back and skipper Emmerson Boyce moving into a central role.
Latics could have gone ahead in the 53rd minute when Watson’s corner to the far post found Fortune who headed back for McClean but his header was cleared off the line by Lewis McGugan.
Soon afterwards Wigan repeated the move and Boyce this time headed back a second Watson corner and McCann volleyed over from the edge of the six yard box.
Latics were pressing forward and looking to force the winner but the game turned in 70th minute in Wednesday’s favour following a defensive mistake.
Boyce tried a crossfield pass but the ball was intercepted by Jeremy Helan, he then set up Maguire who crossed for May and his looping header beat Carson, striking the inside of the post and trickling along over the goal line despite the efforts of Andrew Taylor.
Latics might have drawn level with two great chances within minutes. First Forshaw nearly got on the end of McManaman’s cross, before McManaman’s drive inside the area went just wide of Westwood’s post.
May might have completed his hat-trick for Wednesday but Carson was able to save when he broke clear.
Latics dominated the closing stages creating a series of chances but could not capitalise on their pressure. The best opportunity came in the 86th minute when McCann burst into the box and fired across goal but no Wigan player was in a position to make it count.
Wigan can feel very frustrated not to have got something from the game. It had been an end-to-end encounter with both teams creating numerous chances. Latics had dominated possession but failed to capitalise and a couple of defensive lapses had been their downfall. There are fine margins between success and failure in the Championship and it will be up to the new manager Malky Mackay to eradicate the mistakes and ensure that points are not lost unnecessarily in the future.
Watch Malky Mackay’s post match interview here: