The Championship’s form team continued their excellent run with 2-0 victory against play-off chasing Blackburn Rovers at the DW Stadium.
In a closely fought encounter it was Latics who had the cutting-edge with two second half goals by substitutes Lee Evans and Michael Jacobs.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround from early December when Latics couldn’t buy a win. Many fans including myself were calling for a change in manager as Paul Cook seemed completely out of ideas.
Great credit should be given to Cook for transforming the team’s fortunes and coming up with a winning formula.
Despite the long lay off Latics have continued were they left off before lockdown. The team spirit is now sky high with all the players pulling in the right direction. Their effort and determination has been exemplary as they pull away from the drop zone.
In the last 12 games Cook’s team have taken 24 points from a possible 36 and are unbeaten in eight with six clean sheets in a row.
Latics retained the same starting eleven from the victory against Huddersfield Town with the fit again Leon Balogun on the bench.
The hosts started brightly with Kieffer Moore curling an effort narrowly wide on eight minutes and then Cedric Kipre headed Kieran Dowell’s corner just wide at the back post.
Jamal Lowe created a great chance for himself bursting into the Rovers area but was closed down and couldn’t quite get his shot away from close range.
Rovers main threat came from two set-pieces with Joe Rothwell curling a free kick just over David Marshall’s crossbar and Stewart Downing forcing a full length save from the Scotland international just before the interval.
The visitors started the second half strongly but it was the hosts who created the better chances with Samy Morsy firing a shot just wide of the target from distance and then Anthony Pilkington curling another effort over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
But it was the substitutes Evans and Jacobs who would make the breakthrough for the hosts.
On 80 minutes Latics went ahead when former keeper Christian Walton fumbled Robinson’s cross under pressure and Evans stayed composed to control the ball and then volley home via the under side of the crossbar.
Rovers had an opportunity to draw level soon afterwards when Samuel’s header looked bound for the top corner but Marshall made an excellent save tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Latics confirmed the points in added time when Joe Williams superb long range pass found Jacobs on the counter attack and the winger showed great pace and determination before cutting inside the box to fire past Walton to make it 2-0.
This had been another excellent performance with everyone contributing to the cause. Captain Morsy once again leading by example but there were also strong displays by Joe Williams, Nathan Byrne, Robinson and Marshall.
The matches come thick and fast now with relegation threatened Stoke City at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night. The visitors will be without former Latic Nick Powell who was sent off yesterday for two bookable offences.
Latics will have a big say in who is relegated from the Championship as they play four of the teams in the relegation battle, Stoke, Barnsley, Hull and Charlton, in the final seven games of the season.