Latics secure safety in style – Wigan Athletic 2 Preston North End 0

Reece James

Reece James was once again outstanding in midfield

Wigan Athletic secured their Championship status moving eight points clear of third bottom Rotherham with a deserved 2-0 victory over local rivals Preston North End on Easter Monday.

Latics went in front after only 11 minutes when Leon Clarke finished from close range after Ben Davies had inadvertently set up Kal Naismith in the penalty box.

The hosts were further boosted just before half time when Ryan Ledson was given a straight red card for dangerous play.

Despite going down to ten-men North End gave Latics a few anxious moments in the second half before Lee Evans’ deflected strike put them further ahead.

Latics should have added further goals but some good goalkeeping by Declan Rudd and some profligate finishing meant the margin of victory was only by two goals.

Latics have had a very successful Easter recording back to back victories against promotion contenders Leeds United and local rivals Preston and they are now mathematically safe from relegation.

They have moved up to a heady 18th in the Championship table while Preston are in 12th place with two games of the season remaining.

Paul Cook was forced into making one change to his starting eleven after Cedric Kipre’s appeal against his sending off at Leeds was surprisingly not rescinded and he was replaced by Danny Fox in defence.

Latics took an early lead when Antonee Robinson’s cross was deflected by Davies into the path of Naismith, who squared the ball to Clarke for an easy finish.

The hosts were now well on top and creating plenty of chances with Chey Dunkley going close with a header and Naismith putting another header wide of the target.

Gavin Massey had a great opportunity when Christian Walton’s route one kick found him clear inside the penalty area but he failed to lift the ball over the advancing keeper Rudd.

But Cook’s team were given a man advantage soon afterwards when Ledson’s high boot caught Naismith in the face and the Preston midfielder was dismissed for dangerous play by referee Andrew Madley.

Despite the dismissal Preston remained keenly competitive and they had a great opportunity to equalise when Callum Robinson was set up by Lukas Nmecha but the forward swung his boot and failed to make contact with the ball.

The visitors had another good opportunity just before half time but Joe Rafferty headed wide of the target from Paul Gallagher’s corner.

At the beginning of the second half Clarke had a chance to double Latics’ lead but the striker’s low effort was pushed away by Rudd. Substitute Nick Powell managed to pick up the loose ball and set up Sam Morsy in a great position but instead of shooting Morsy squared the ball to Naismith, who was ruled offside.

It was end to end stuff now and Clarke blocked Davies’ goal-bound header at close range before Dunkley had to get his body in the way to deny Darnell Fisher.

Latics were struggling to contain Preston down their right hand side with Nathan Byrne being left exposed on several occasions.

From one such attack Byrne gave away a free kick and Walton was forced into making a flying save from Gallagher’s curled free kick.

But Latics got the vital second goal on 68 minutes when Powell crossed for Clarke at the back post and the ball fell to Evans whose driven effort was deflected off a Preston defender and into the net.

The ten-men’s heads visibly dropped and Latics should have added further goals before full time.

Evans fired wide of the target before Clarke might have done better when he met Evans’ cross at the back post but was unable to turn the ball home from a good position.

As the match moved into added time Powell forced another good save from Rudd but by then the points had already been secured and Latics would be playing Championship football again next season.

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Lee Evans, Leon Clarke, Preston North End, Reece James, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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