In the midst of an administration crisis Latics’ players responded to Saturday’s defeat at Brentford with a totally committed and characterful victory over Queens Park Rangers at the DW Stadium.
Latics totally dominated the first half and should have been out of sight by half time if it was not for some profligate finishing and resolute Rangers defending.
After Jamal Lowe, Kal Naismith and Kieran Dowell had missed presentable chances they went ahead on 33 minutes when captain Samy Morsy drove forward before setting up Kieffer Moore who smashed the ball past Lumley for the only goal of the game.
Rangers enjoyed more possession in the second half and might have drawn level when Ilias Chair forced a good save from Scotland keeper David Marshall but Latics still had plenty of chances to increase their lead with Moore curling an effort just wide and Lowe forcing Lumley into another good save.
Latics move level with QPR on 53 points and eight points above third bottom Hull City but they have the EFL’s 12 point deduction hanging over them.
Paul Cook made one change from the team which lost at Brentford with Danny Fox replacing the injured Leon Balogun. Joe Garner was unavailable due to suspension and Anthony Pilkington and Michael Jacobs are both injured.
The hosts started very brightly with Lowe forcing Lumley to save with his legs and Naismith having a goal bound shot deflected for a corner inside the first four minutes.
Soon afterwards Moore’s whipped cross just evaded Lowe at the near post and Naismith coming in at the back post couldn’t make a proper contact. Latics really should’ve been ahead in those opening ten minutes.
Everton loanee Dowell showed great vision and skill by setting up Moore on 20 minutes but the big striker somehow managed not to finish from a very good position.
Bright Osayi-Samuel had a rare effort on target for Rangers on 22 minutes but it was comfortably collected by Marshall.
Latics pressure eventually paid dividends on 33 minutes when Morsy surged forward and played in Moore who lashed the ball past Lumley from inside the box.
Naismith nearly doubled the lead just before the interval but Lumley saved well diving low down to his left.
The hosts had been in almost total control throughout the first half but manager Cook would have been concerned that they had not turned their dominance into more goals.
Moore had another great chance early in the second half when he curled his shot just wide of the far post from a central position.
Soon afterwards the Wales international striker had another effort deflected over the crossbar.
The visitors were enjoying more possession in the second half and their best chance of the game came on 60 minutes when Chair forced Marshall into a crucial save.
But Latics had managed to keep QPR away from goal for most of the game and they claimed a vital three points in their quest for Championship survival.
Captain Morsy had once again led by example with an inspiring display in midfield but this was an excellent all around team effort.
In an extremely difficult week Cook’s men had been magnificent and if they can maintain this form they could still accumulate enough points to escape the drop, and despite the EFL’s harsh 12 point deduction.
Championship Table courtesy of Whoscored.com