- James McClean’s incisive run and clinical finish in the 86th minute enabled Wigan Athletic to take the three points against Oxford United in a topsy-turvy game at the Kassam Stadium.
- Latics were deservedly ahead after only eight minutes when Will Keane headed home from close range after Jack Whatmough headed across goal.
- Max Power doubled Latics’ lead with a fine strike from 20-yards but the hosts immediately pulled a goal back through Ryan Williams.
- Oxford drew level in the 57th minute when Matty Taylor converted a cross from Anthony Forde at the back post.
- Gavin Massey missed a great opportunity to restore Latics lead before McClean’s magnificent winner sealed the three points.
- Latics remain in second place in the League One table two points behind leaders Rotherham but with a game in hand. Oxford are in sixth place.
Leam Richardson made two changes to the starting line up from the draw against Ipswich Town with Joe Bennett and Massey replacing Tom Pearce and Gwion Edwards.
In a frenetic opening period there were plenty of chances at both ends.
Oxford had a couple of opportunities to open the scoring, first Mark Sykes saw an effort deflected wide by Curtis Tilt before Gavin Whyte fired wide.
Latics had a great opportunity when Lang headed a Power corner over from very close range but they went ahead when Power’s corner to the back post was headed back across goal by Whatmough and Keane headed home at close range.
The visitors then had a couple of chances to consolidate their advantage, first Lang’s strike was deflected behind for a corner and then he headed Power’s cross just over as Latics continued to threaten.
The hosts missed a glorious opportunity to draw level as Taylor fired against the crossbar from close range after Whyte had cut the ball back.
It was thrilling end to end stuff and Power doubled Latics’s lead with a fine strike from 20-yards which flew into the bottom corner of the net.
The hosts reduced the deficit almost immediately as Williams fired past Ben Amos from the left side of the box.
2-1 to Latics at half time but Oxford pressed for the equaliser at the beginning of the second half.
They were level in the 57th minute when Taylor finished at the back post following a cross from the right from Anthony Forde after Bennett had slipped in the build up.
Latics should’ve been back in front when Keane found Massey in the centre of the penalty area, but the winger produced an air shot and failed to trouble Simon Eastwood in the Oxford goal.
Lang then had another chance at the back post but Eastwood blocked his effort at close range.
Both teams pushed for the winner, but it was a moment of great quality from McClean which sent the three points back to Wigan.
With four minutes of the 90 remaining the Republic of Ireland winger drove forwards down the left and jinked inside the full back before drilling the ball into the far corner of the net.
It was a sublime piece of skill to decide a thrilling game and send the travelling fans into raptures.
Latics excellent run of form continues and they are now unbeaten in 12 matches in all competitions.
Richardson has instilled a never say die attitude in the squad which has meant they have accumulated a significant number of points in the final stages of games. This along with their sheer ability, team spirit and squad depth should stand them in good stead for the promotion run in.
Latics’ manager was full of praise for his players after the game.
“Credit has to go to the players because they kept going.
“We knew before the game the challenges we would face within Oxford; they have a really good depth and quality of player, they have been together a while now and have the same manager and same group of players.
“I thought they probably shaded it in the middle parts of the pitch and were a little bit better, but both teams were outstanding out of possession and I thought within both boxes we looked a threat all afternoon.
“Credit goes to the players; I thought the fitness levels, the organisation that they carried today [were good], if you don’t play well, make sure your morale, your organisation gets you through them games and gets you a result.
“These lads will run for each other and that’s important in any team; if you have your teammate who wants to run for you then you’ll normally get the right side of the result and the lads are doing that at the minute.”
And Richardson highlighted the importance of Latics having quality players within their ranks.
“If you’re building as a football club, then it’s down to your players and the quality of player that you carry,” Richardson added. “If you have good players who make good decisions, i.e. James McClean this afternoon, then you normally get on the right end of the result.”