An emotional week but Latics ease relegation pressure and edge past QPR – Wigan Athletic 2 – Queens Park Rangers 1

 Leon Clarke

New loan striker Leon Clarke on target for Latics

Wigan Athletic lost fans’ favourite Will Grigg late in the transfer window but moved seven points clear of the relegation zone after a hard fought victory against QPR at the DW Stadium.

Josh Windass put Latics ahead from a flick on from new loan signing Leon Clarke after eight minutes and Clarke added a second from close range early in the second half.

Rangers got back in the game with a deflected goal from Bright Osayi-Samuel with 15 minutes remaining.

The visitors nearly snatched an equaliser when Toni Leistner crashed his shot against the crossbar and they also had appeals for a penalty turned down in added time.

After a hectic transfer deadline day Paul Cook made four changes to his last line-up with  with new signings Danny Fox, Clarke and Anthony Pilkington straight into the team and Lee Evans returning in midfield.

Reece James moved into midfield for the suspended Samy Morsy and Nathan Byrne slotted in at right back in his place.

Rangers had an early chance to take the lead when Jamie Jones was unable to hold onto a long-range effort from Nahki Wells but Jones managed to save at the second attempt as Luke Freeman looked set to score.

The save proved vital as Latics went route one for the opening goal on eight minutes. Jones’ long kick was flicked on by Clarke and Windass’ low strike found the bottom corner of the net.

Rangers responded well and nearly drew level when Wells was one-on-one with Jones but the keeper produced a courageous save to deny the former Huddersfield striker.

The visitors continued to threaten and Kal Naismith headed off the line from Toni Leistner’s header.

Latics had ridden their luck and were grateful for Jones’ heroics to be ahead the interval.

Joe Lumley denied Latics a second goal early in the second half, diving to his left to keep out a low drive from Michael Jacobs.

But Latics doubled their lead on 55 minutes when Jacobs’ cross was deflected into the path of Clarke who finished from close range.

The hosts now looked comfortable and in control of the game with Man of the Match Reece James excelling in his new midfield role.

The Chelsea loanee exuded Premier League quality with his skill, strength and technique. Latics’ best piece of transfer business this season has been signing the 19-year-old England U20 international on a season long loan.

Rangers were given a lifeline with 15 minutes remaining when Osayi-Samuel’s deflected shot wrong-footed Jones.

Rangers pressed forward in search of the equaliser and Latics dropped deeper into defence.

The introduction of substitute Matt Smith was causing Latics all sorts of problems. Fox was withdrawn and replaced by the taller Chey Dunkley but the hosts just couldn’t cope with Smith’s aerial presence.

Leistner crashed a shot against the crossbar and Smith headed over from Wells’ cross as Latics were under the cosh.

In added time Ryan Manning’s shot from the edge of the area appeared to hit Jacobs’ hand but referee Scott Duncan waved away Rangers’ appeals and Latics held on for a vital three points.

It’s been a difficult week for Latics’ fans with the departure of talisman Will Grigg to Sunderland and a victory was essential to keep the fanbase on side. Latics must now show that they are making progress and address their poor away form starting at Rotherham next week.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Bright Osayi-Samuel, Championship, Josh Windass, Leon Clarke, QPR, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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