Wigan Athletic moved out of the League One relegation zone with an impressive 2-0 away victory at mid-table Plymouth Argyle.
In an open first half with plenty of chances Latics went ahead on 13 minutes when Viv Solomon-Otabor lashed the ball home from Gavin Massey’s right wing cross.
Plymouth hit the post and bar but Curtis Tilt consolidated Latics lead on 32 minutes when he superbly steered his near post header past Michael Cooper from Tendayi Darikwa’s right wing cross.
The second half had less opportunities for either side but with 20 minutes remaining Jamie Jones made two excellent saves in quick succession to keep out the Pilgrims and enable Latics to move on up the table.
Latics are now in 20th place and one point above the drop zone. Plymouth slip to 15th in the table.
Leam Richardson made two changes to the starting eleven from Saturday’s 3-0 win against MK Dons with Lee Evans returning from a long injury in midfield and Jamie Proctor upfront in place of Joe Dodoo. Scott Wootton was unavailable due to the conditions of his loan from Plymouth.
Darikwa made a risky challenge in the area after only seven minutes but referee Gavin Ward made the correct decision and awarded a goal kick.
A minute later Callum Lang picked up a poor back pass and volleyed wide of the target from a good position on the edge of the box.
Lang was a constant threat and his good work resulted in the visitors going ahead on 13 minutes. Lang won the ball and fed Massey whose cross from the right found Solomon-Otabor in the centre and the Nigerian international lashed the ball home for his first goal for Latics.
Lang was in the thick of the action and he nearly doubled Latics lead on 17 minutes but his low strike was saved by Cooper’s legs and Solomon-Otabor blazed over from a good position.
At the other end Luke Jephcott volleyed against the crossbar from eight yards out before Solomon-Otabor drove his shot narrowly wide of the near post on 20 minutes.
The hosts then had a good spell of pressure and Latics survived a scare when Connor Grant’s strike was deflected onto the post by Tilt and Jones did well to save another goal-bound effort soon afterwards.
Latics were always a threat on the break however and they added to their lead on 32 minutes when Darikwa’s teasing cross from the right was firmly headed home by Tilt at the near post.
Just before half time Evans’ free kick from the left found Proctor in the box but the striker’s header was well saved by Cooper and the referee adjudged the former Rotherham player to have fouled his marker.
Lang and Solomon-Otabor had proved to be a real handful in the first half and Latics led 2-0 at half time.
Neil Ennis had the first real chance of the second half on 57 minutes when he turned well in the box but Tilt did very well to get in a block and deny him.
Latics were maintaining a good defensive shape now and goalscoring opportunities were less frequent.
Proctor and Lang were replaced by Dodoo and Will Keane on 66 minutes as Richardson looked to refresh his strike force.
The hosts best opportunities to reduce the deficit came on 72 minutes when Ryan Hardie’s left foot strike was well saved by Jones and seconds later the Latics keeper made a vital save to keep out Danny Mayor’s goal-bound effort.
Substitute Adam Lewis curled a free kick around the Latics defensive wall on 77 minutes as the hosts hit the woodwork for the third time.
Corey Whelan replaced Lee Evans on 87 minutes and in four minutes of added time Thelo Aasgaard and Dan Gardner replaced Solomon-Otabor and Massey.
Latics stood firm and saw out the final stages to secure a vital three points in their quest for League One survival.
It was a massive result for the club which has suffered the extreme consequences of a long period of administration and which will hopefully come to a positive conclusion very soon.
Latics have no game on Saturday due to Sunderland’s appearance in the Papa John’s Trophy Final but they face fellow strugglers AFC Wimbledon next Tuesday in another critical game at the bottom of the table.
If they can maintain the momentum of their last two performances against MK Dons and Plymouth they will have an opportunity to pull away from the bottom end of the table.