- Wigan Athletic slipped back into the relegation zone after a lethargic performance at mid-table Accrington Stanley.
- In a frantic opening Latics were ahead after only 40 seconds when Callum Lang capitalised on Dan Gardner’s through ball.
- Accrington were level two minutes later as Sean McConville’s free kick found the unmarked Cameron Burgess who headed into the top right corner and they were ahead on 15 minutes as Latics failed to defend another set piece and Michael Nottingham tapped the ball home from close range.
- Tendayi Darikwa recklessly brought down McConville in the area on the hour mark and Dion Charles converted the spot kick to make it 3-1 to the hosts.
- Latics drop into the relegation places in 21st place on goal difference behind Bristol Rovers. Accrington move up to 12th in the table.
Latics made three changes from Tuesday’s draw at AFC Wimbledon with Callum Lang, Dan Gardner and Joe Dodoo starting. Gavin Massey and VIv Solomon-Otabor were both missing due to injury.
It was the visitors first ever Football League visit to the Wham Stadium and it was a game with plenty of connections between the two clubs. Latics Acting Manager Leam was a former Accrington player and manager and Accrington First Team Coach John Doolan was a former Latics player.
The game started in frantic style with Latics going ahead after only 40 seconds. Gardner’s Iong ball through the middle found Lang who evaded two defenders before calmly finishing past Toby Savin.
But Accrington were level two minutes later as the Latics defensive allowed the unmarked Burgess to head home from eight yards out.
The game continued at a frantic pace and Lang might’ve restored Latics’ lead on four minutes but his right foot shot from inside the box was narrowly wide of the target.
McConville looped a shot onto the crossbar with Jamie Jones rooted to the spot on 12 minutes and soon afterwards the hosts went in front as Latics defence was all at sea from another set piece. McConville floated a free kick from the left and Jones failed to clear with his boot and Nottingham tapped the ball over the line from close range.
Both teams continued to bypass midfield with long balls forward and both teams struggled to defend convincingly. Latics were unable to get their usual game going with many passes going astray. Lee Evans in particular was having a torrid time.
2-1 at the interval and Latics would have to improve considerably if they were to get anything from the game.
Ben Barkley’s snapshot early in the second half nearly increased the hosts lead but it was inches wide of the post.
The visitors continued to struggle defensively, they were losing out in aerial battles and in forward positions they were caught offside far too often.
Luke Robinson did go close on 56 minutes following a short corner routine and Darikwa blazed over soon afterwards. But Latics remained unconvincing and worse was to come as Darikwa needlessly brought down McConville to concede a penalty which Charles duly converted.
Jamie Proctor replaced Gardner on 63 minutes as Latics looked for more of a presence in the forward line but they still struggled to penetrate the Accrington defence.
Darikwa fired over the angle of the post and crossbar on 75 minutes from the edge of the box and Lang drove wide of the target a minute later. There was a scramble in the Accrington box on 82 minutes and the resulting shot from close range was well saved by Savin.
At the other end Jones made a great one-handed save to deny Morgan after more sloppy play by Evans on the edge of his own area and McConville’s strike from the edge of the box went just over as Latics lived dangerously.
Four minutes of added time but the visitors just couldn’t find a way through the resolute Accrington defensive line.
This was a very disappointing display by Latics especially after their recent good form. Many of the players had fallen way below their high standards with only Lang emerging with much credit. Latics were without Solomon-Otabor and Massey but too many players had an off day.
A big improvement will be required if they are to get anything from the next fixture against Paul Cook’s new team Ipswich Town. With ten games remaining there is still time to escape the drop but the standards must not fall as low as they did today.