Will rare away point be enough to save Cook? Millwall 2 Wigan Athletic 2

Anthony Pilkington Anthony Pilkington on target for Latics

It wasn’t pretty but Wigan Athletic managed to secure a rare away point in a 2-2 draw at Millwall.

In a scrappy encounter dominated by route one football from both sides, it was Latics who took an early lead when Anthony Pilkington produced a sublime finish from the edge of the box. Millwall were level on 24 minutes when Shaun Hutchinson powerfully headed home from a pinpoint corner.

The visitors restored their lead on 56 minutes from a well worked build up when full back Antonee Robinson finished from a tight angle, but the hosts were not to be denied and substitute Matt Smith rose high above Robinson to head the equaliser.

Under pressure manager Paul Cook will have been relieved to see his side manage a draw after gaining only one point from the previous five games.

But Cook’s team are now in a precarious position as they slipped to 21st place in the Championship table and could be in the relegation zone if Middlesbrough defeat Barnsley on Wednesday night.

Cook made three changes from the defeat against Stoke City, with Kieffer Moore, Dujon Sterling and Pilkington all coming into the starting eleven. Cook desperately needed a good result and adopted an unlikely 4-4-2 formation with Moore and Joe Garner filling the striker roles.

Latics started on the front foot and were ahead after only two minutes when Moore’s knock down found Pilkington on the edge of the area and the midfielder produced a sublime left foot finish past Bartosz Bialkowski.

Soon afterwards Pilkington had a great chance to double the lead from another Moore knock down but this time he fired wide of the target.

The hosts gradually gained a foothold and started to have more possession, they were level on 24 minutes when Hutchinson climbed high above Charlie Mulgrew to head home a corner from Jed Wallace.

Moore might have restored Latics’ lead on 38 minutes but his header was well saved by Bialkowski at close range from a Pilkington corner.

Despite some occasional passages of good football the match was predominantly about long high balls and physical battles.

Probably the best passage of football resulted in Latics second goal. Chey Dunkley sent a long diagonal pass to Garner who chested the ball down, swivelled and laid the ball into the path of Robinson who drove the ball low past Bialkowski from a tight angle.

But the hosts were soon level as Shaun Williams was allowed far too much room on the left and his cross found substitute Smith on the penalty spot and the big striker powered his header beyond Marshall.

Millwall continued their aerial bombardment of the Latics penalty area with Smith the centrepiece of their attacks.

In an attempt to nullify the threat Cook changed formation to a 3-5-2 on 64 minutes, with Cedric Kipre replacing Pilkington in a back three.

Latics responded well and had a series of dangerous attacks, first Pilkington saw a free-kick saved by Bialkowski then Garner and Macleod both fired straight at the Millwall keeper from good positions.

They went closest to scoring when Jamal Lowe chipped to the back post for Garner and the ball nearly crossed the line but was headed away by Hutchinson.

For once there was no late winner from the opposition and Latics secured only their third away point of the season.

The style of football was not great and Latics still lack creativity but at least the players produced a committed performance and Cook looks to have kept his job, at least in the short term.

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Anthony Pilkington, Antonee Robinson, Shaun Hutchinson, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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