- Wigan Athletic were held to a 1-1 draw by sixth placed Oxford United at the DW Stadium.
- The visitors started brightly and took an early lead through Matty Taylor but the hosts responded through Callum Lang’s fine finish in the 31st minute.
- In a one-sided second half Latics dominated and despite creating several good chances and having a goal disallowed for offside they had to settle for a point.
- Latics are now unbeaten in 20 games and remain in second place in the table, three points behind leaders Rotherham but with two games in hand. Oxford remain in sixth place.
Leam Richardson made four changes to the team which drew with Cheltenham Town with Curtis Tilt, Gavin Massey, Lang and Stephen Humphrys replacing Kell Watts, Gwion Edwards, Will Keane and Josh Magennis.
The visitors started strongly and caused the hosts plenty of problems in the early stages.
Marcus McGuane won a free-kick in a dangerous position but Billy Bodin’s free-kick sailed over the crossbar. Bodin then had another free-kick opportunity but his cross was headed straight into the hands of Ben Amos by Taylor.
Latics went close in the 16th minute when Lang picked up a loose ball in midfield and found James McClean in space on the left but his low cross shot was parried away by Oxford goalkeeper Jack Stevens.
The home crowd were stunned in the 23rd minute when the visitors went in front with with a well-worked goal. Mark Sykes drove forward on the left and exchanged passes with Cameron Brannagan before squaring the ball to Taylor who finished from close range.
Latics looked out of sorts and Richardson made a tactical intervention which turned the tide of the game.
Tendayi Darikwa was moved from left back to right back and Max Power moved into midfield with James McClean moved to left back in place of Darikwa.
Latics looked more balanced now and they threatened when McClean’s corner from the left caused problems in the box but Stevens was able to punch away the cross despite a congested six-yard box.
The hosts drew level in the 35th minute when Power in a midfield position did superbly to loft a ball over the top into the path of Lang who produced a very accomplished finish into the bottom corner.
Latics were the more dangerous now with Lang predominant in attack. The striker found Humphrys with an inviting cross from the right but the former Rochdale man failed to divert his diving header towards goal. The ball then came out to Graeme Shinnie who tried a first-time effort which went narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
Latics went close to taking the lead on the stroke of half time when McClean’s free-kick to the far post was headed against the post by Jack Whatmough with keeper Stevens beaten.
Latics continued to press forward in the second half with Lang involved in most things and the striker soon found McClean on the left but his dangerous cross was cleared by the visitors.
At the other end Oxford had a rare chance chance when Sykes volley from the edge of the area was comfortably saved by Amos.
For most of the second half the visitors were pinned in their own half as Latics pressed high and dominated.
With 20 minutes remaining Latics were creating more chances when Darikwa put in a low cross but Humphrys was unable to make a strong connection on his flick to divert towards goal.
Whatmough then came close after Power’s long throw-in found the central defender but his volley from inside the penalty area flew over the crossbar.
Magennis replaced Humphrys in the 71st minute and he nearly got on the scoresheet when he directed McClean’s inswinging corner just over the crossbar at the near post.
Karl Robinson’s team were under the cosh now and they resorted to time-wasting to break Latics momentum and run down the clock.
But Latics sustained the pressure and Power’s free-kick was cleared into the path of Tom Naylor but his volley from the edge of the area was well saved by Stevens.
Latics looked like they had made the breakthrough on 84 minutes when Power took a quick free-kick to release Naylor who crossed for Magennis to convert from close range but the assistant referee flagged for offside.
The hosts continued to create chances and they had a big opportunity when Power’s throw-in caused problems and the ball fell to Whatmough but the central defender’s effort on the turn was well parried away by Stevens from six yards out.
Oxford had held on for a point but Latics will feel that they had deserved more after such an excellent second half performance.
Afterwards speaking to the media, Richardson felt it was a great advert for the third tier of English football and expressed that he was pleased with how his side got back level and took control of the game for large spells.
“It was an excellent game,” he said.
“I thought the energy levels from both teams were excellent. We’re up against a team that has a real quality of player and are coached very well. They are a top-four team in my opinion.
“I thought the lads did really well and responded. In the first 15-20 minutes, they shaded it and it was a good goal on their part. After that, I thought we took over the game and the impetus was on us. I thought in the second half, we limited them to certain things around the pitch and the momentum shifted.
“You’ve got to respect that they are a really good team and they will always keep you honest with the quality and depth of player that they’ve got.
“I thought our distances were a little bit off and you’ve got to be respectful of every team. Oxford are no different and I thought we had to impose ourselves a little bit higher up the pitch.
“To be fair to our lads, to see the intent and will to win that they’ve got, and to respond to going from a goal down to try and take the impetus to try and win the game is commendable.”