Defender Callum Connolly scored two headed goals on his debut to give Wigan Athletic an important victory in their quest for Championship survival.
The 19-year-old Everton loanee had only signed for Latics prior to kick off and had a dream start at his new club when he headed home just on the stroke of half time. He then repeated the act on 64 minutes to ensure Latics came away with a vital three points.
Latics now only trail Burton by three points although they remain in 23rd place in the table. Burton remain in 21st place with Blackburn Rovers in 22nd spot.
Connolly made his debut in place of the injured Nick Powell and was the only change from the team which defeated Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.
In a closely fought encounter both teams created good goalscoring opportunities in the opening half.
Luke Murphy, Chris O’Grady and Jamie Ward all threatened for the Brewers in the opening exchanges before Michael Jacobs forced a save from Burton keeper Jon Mclaughlin on 18 minutes.
Soon afterwards Max Power nearly made a breakthrough when he latched onto a long ball from Latics’ keeper Jakob Haugaard.
Warren Joyce’s team were adopting a route one approach and the midfielder pulled the ball down in the box before volleying narrowly wide of the post with Mclaughlin beaten.
The Brewers responded and Chris O’Grady’s goalbound shot from inside the box beat Haugaard but was cleared off the line by Stephen Warnock.
Yanic Wildschut set up Will Grigg on the edge of the area on 38 minutes but the striker’s effort curled narrowly wide of the post.
Just when it looked as though the teams would go in level at the interval Latics went ahead through an unlikely source.
Warnock looped a deep cross from the left to the far post and Connolly rose above his marker to head firmly into the Brewers net much to the delight of Latics’ travelling support.
Stephen Bywater replaced McLaughlin at half time after the keeper was injured in collision with former Burton player Jake Buxton.
The Brewers pressed forward in an attempt to draw level but the Latics defence held firm with Warnock, Burn and Buxton all outstanding.
On 64 minutes Latics increased their lead when Jacobs’ right wing corner found Connolly in the box and the young defender angled his header past Bywater for a dream double.
Burton tried to get back into the game but Latics were resolute. The home team resorted to shots from distance, although Burn did have to make a goal-line clearance and Haugaard saved well from O’Grady.
Jordan Flores replaced Wildschut and Craig Morgan replaced Power in the closing stages and Latics were able to see out the game with relative ease.
It was a memorable debut for Callum Connolly and a much needed Championship victory for Latics. Warren Joyce should be praised for his decision to bring Connolly to the club and to play him in such an important game. It is imperative that the team now build on the victory and put together a winning sequence to move them away from the bottom three.