- Latics suffered a setback to their automatic promotion hopes when they slipped to a controversial 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough.
- In a very competitive first half both teams had good chances and Josh Magennis had a goal ruled out for offside for the visitors.
- In the second half Wednesday were the dominant force and created more opportunities but ultimately it was a controversial penalty decision by referee Tim Robinson which enabled Wednesday to take the three points.
- Jack Whatmough was penalised for a foul on Massimo Luongo but replays showed that the Latics defender didn’t commit a foul on the Australian midfielder.
- Latics remain in second place in the table and are now nine points behind leaders Rotherham with three games in hand. Sheffield Wednesday remain in seventh place one point outside the play-off places.
Leam Richardson made eight changes to the side which lost 2-0 to Stoke City in the FA Cup. Only Max Power, Jamie McGrath and Josh Magennis retained their starting places.
In an exciting opening period both teams created good chances.
After only four minutes Callum Lang’s dangerous cross was headed by Magennis into the path of Tom Naylor inside the box but the midfielder failed to hit the target from a good position.
The hosts Liam Palmer tried his luck from 25-yards out but Ben Amos saved comfortably on seven minutes. Soon afterwards the Latics keeper was in action again when he spilled a cross from the right but no Wednesday player was on hand to capitalise.
On 11 minutes Jack Hunt ‘s corner found Jordan Storey at the near post and the defender headed narrowly wide when he looked odds-on to score.
At the other end Magennis headed over as he was falling backwards from Naylor’s cross on 21 minutes and then McGrath volleyed wide from the edge of the area following a long throw from Power.
On 36 minutes Amos pushed away a strike from Florian Kamberi and luckily for Latics the ball rebounded off a Wednesday player for a goal kick.
As the game moved towards half time Latics went close to breaking the deadlock when Tendayi Darikwa’s shot came back off the post and Magennis finished only for the referee’s assistant to flag for offside.
0-0 at the break after a fiercely competitive first half with both teams having created some excellent goalscoring opportunities.
Richardson reshuffled his team at the interval with Darikwa moving to right back, James McClean to left back and Power pushed into a midfield role.
Latics struggled to rebuild their momentum from the first half as the hosts started to dominate possession.
The game’s turning point came in the 51st minute when Whatmough was adjudged to have brought down Luongo in the penalty area.
Replays subsequently showed that the Latics defender had not committed a foul but that the Australian midfielder had dived and deceived the referee. Barry Bannan converted the spot kick to give Wednesday the advantage.
Soon afterwards Kamberi had a chance to double the hosts lead but he fired well wide from eight yards out.
Wednesday were in the ascendancy now as Latics couldn’t find their usual rhythm. On 65 minutes Bannan’s corner was headed just over the angle of post and crossbar by Storey.
Jason Kerr and Stephen Humphrys replaced McGrath and Graham Shinnie on 65 minutes as Latics moved to three centre backs and two wing backs in an attempt to get back into the game.
However, the hosts continued to dominate as Latics struggled to get out of their own half. Callum Paterson’s strike from 25-yards out drifted wide of the far post on 77 minutes and Bannan forced an excellent tip over from Amos three minutes later.
Latics huffed and puffed but they had been unable to compete with the hosts physicality in the second half. Throughout the second half they had been unable to trouble Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the Wednesday goal.
Lang tried desperately to get a shot on target in the dying seconds of added time but his attempt was easily blocked and Latics slipped to a disappointing defeat.
Wednesday had been the better side in the second half but Latics will feel the penalty should not have been awarded. Wednesday have now done the double over Latics and will feel they are capable of going on to claim a play-off place.
Latics will be looking for a big improvement against Charlton Athletic on Saturday. They are still in a very strong position for automatic promotion but they must not allow one poor game to derail their season.
Speaking to the media afterwards, Richardson was disappointed that the match outcome was decided by a penalty decision that did not fall in their favour.
“It was a very narrow game with not much in it,” he said.
“I thought in the first half we shaded it and probably had the best chances. In the second half the game petered out. There were too many stoppages and too many changes, and games like that need to be decided by the players, and the players haven’t decided the result which is disappointing.
“I think the game has got to be decided by the players and not any outside influences. It was a drab 0-0 and no team really played that well. They are used to playing on their pitch more than us but in the second half, we’ve got to be better. If we’re not going to win and be fluent going forwards, then we will take our point but I always think the players should decide the result.
“From my angle, it wasn’t a penalty, but the game has been decided on it. Someone has decided the game and we’ll quickly move on.”
Attention will quickly turn to Saturday when Latics return to the DW Stadium to face Charlton Athletic, and Richardson expressed the importance of his players not being caught in the emotion of a result and continuing to be consistent with their standards both on and off the pitch.
“We’re in a place where we have put ourselves. It’s a campaign that is really healthy and challenging and you cannot get emotionally attached to results and games.
“We’ve got to be consistent in what we do, work hard on the training ground and make sure that every single team we celebrate a win, it doesn’t stop us in what we are doing. We go again, we work hard and same with negative results as well.”