Lacklustre Latics leave it late – Wigan Athletic 1 Ipswich Town 1

Joe Garner scored the leveller against his former club

An out of sorts Wigan Athletic equalised in the 91st minute to deny bottom of the table Ipswich Town a rare away victory.

The Tractor Boys went down to 10 men on 25 minutes when the last defender Jonas Knudsen brought down Leon Clarke.

But they were in front on 34 minutes when Colin Quaner was adjudged to have been tripped by Chey Dunkley and Will Keane stepped up to convert the penalty. 

The hosts struggled to make the extra man count and missed a hatful of chances, with Clarke being particularly profligate, before they eventually equalised through former Ipswich striker Joe Garner in added time when he turned home Reece James’ cross at the back post.

Latics move up a place to 19th in the Championship table and five points above the drop zone while Ipswich remain rooted to the bottom of the table and nine points from safety.

Paul Cook made two changes to his starting eleven from the last Championship game against Stoke City, with Danny Fox and Lee Evans into the team in place of Cedric Kipre and Nathan Byrne.

Wigan had recently returned from a trip to Dubai for a warm weather break but it didn’t seem to have helped their form as they produced a lethargic first half performance.

Ipswich were much quicker out of the blocks and threatened early on. Jon Nolan headed wide for the visitors before Jamie Jones denied Keane by tipping his curling shot around the post.

Keane then had Ipswich’s best chance to go in front but he failed to make contact at the back post with the goal at his mercy.

Latics eventually fashioned a good opening on 24 minutes when Clarke broke clear but as he advanced towards goal he was pulled back by Knudsen, and referee Lee Probert awarded a red card for the defender.

The hosts were stunned 10 minutes later when Dunkley was harshly adjudged to have fouled Quaner in the penalty area, and Keane converted the resulting spot kick to give the visitors an unlikely lead.

Despite playing against ten men Latics struggled to respond to the setback and they went into the interval one nil down.

Latics did improve in the second-half but they found it hard to break down a resolute and determined Ipswich rearguard.

When the hosts did get opportunities they failed to take advantage. Naismith provided an inviting cross for Clarke and Windass but the two strikers got in each other’s way and a glorious opportunity was wasted.

Soon afterwards another chance went begging as Windass provided an excellent low cross to the back post but Clarke was unable to capitalise.

The Tractor Boys then threatened through Alan Judge twice and Trevoh Chalobah as they grew in confidence.

Cook needed to change things if Latics were going to get anything from the game and both Nick Powell and Callum McManaman were introduced on the hour mark.

Clarke had another opportunity on 58 minutes when Jacobs crossed from the left to the near post but the loanee striker couldn’t get his effort on target.

Windass had a shout for a penalty when a defender appeared to handle his shot in the area but referee Probert waved away Latics’ appeals.

However Powell and McManaman were now providing the impetus for Latics’ attacks and James was also getting forward to good effect down the right hand side.

Powell looked to have grabbed the equaliser with five minutes of normal time remaining when his header from James’ cross looked destined for the top corner but Bartosz Bialkowski saved superbly to deny him. 

Just when it looked as though Ipswich would hold out James’ cross found Garner at the back post and the former Ipswich man drew Latics level.

Relief all around the DW Stadium at the final whistle but this was surely a missed opportunity to move further away from the drop zone.

A big improvement will be required if they are to defeat play-off chasing Middlesbrough next Saturday.

Substitutes Powell and McManaman had been the catalysts for the second-half improvement and they have staked a strong case to start against Middlesbrough.

A fully fit Powell should surely be one of the first names on the team sheet as he is Latics’ most creative attacking player. FA Cup winner McManaman has not been given a fair crack of the whip under Cook and a start against his former manager Tony Pulis would seem an ideal time to rectify that.

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Ipswich Town, Joe Garner, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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