- Wigan Athletic consolidated their position at the top of the League One table with an impressive 3-1 victory at Lincoln City.
- Callum Lang put Latics ahead after only eight minutes but Lincoln drew level after a lucky deflection allowed Anthony Scully to slot home on 14 minutes.
- Latics restored their advantage when Will Keane fired home from the edge of the box on 21 minutes.
- The visitors effectively sealed the three points when Lang added his second and his side’s third goal on 72 minutes with a fine finish via the far post.
- Latics made it eight games unbeaten and are now three points ahead of second placed MK Dons with two games in hand and six points ahead of third place Rotherham.
Leam Richardson named an unchanged team from the midweek victory against Accrington Stanley.
Latics were into their stride right from the kick off and went ahead after only eight minutes.
Josh Magennis headed Max Power’s high ball on to Lang, who volleyed home from inside the six-yard box.
But the hosts somewhat fortuitously drew level four minutes later when Lewis Fiorini’s shot took a big deflection off Kell Watts and fell to Scully who slotted home from close range.
But Latics were not phased by the setback and continued to press forward and were rewarded in the 21st minute when, after a link up between Lang and Max Power, Keane finished into the top corner from the edge of the box.
The visitors continued to create chances and on 26 minutes Power’s right footed strike from outside the box narrowly missed the target.
Two minutes later and Tendayi Darikwa blazed an effort high and wide from a good position on the edge of the box.
At the other end Chris Maguire had a strike well blocked by Latics’ defence after being set up by Fiorini.
Richardson’s men always looked the more likely to add to their lead and Keane’s strike on 37 minutes from the centre of the box was saved by the Imps goalkeeper Jordan Wright.
2-1 to Latics at half-time and the visitors started the second half as they had started the first.
On 54 minutes Watts left footed effort from outside the box was narrowly wide of the target.
Seven minutes later and Joe Bennett’s cross was headed by Magennis towards the bottom right corner but his effort was well saved by Wright.
Two minutes later and Keane’s right footed snapshot from just outside the box narrowly missed the target.
The Imps then threatened at the other end as Fiorini right footed strike from the right side of the box was well pushed away by Ben Amos.
On 68 minutes Keane went close again when his right footed shot from the centre of the box missed narrowly to the left.
But Latics effectively sealed the three points with their third goal on 72 minutes.
Keane fed Lang down the right side of the box and the striker’s angled drive went in via the post into the bottom left corner.
Latics comfortably held out for the remaining minutes and they might have added to their lead in the 90th minute when Lang was again on the right side of the box but this time his shot was well saved in the bottom right corner by Wright.
This had been another consummate away performance by Latics, and with the news that Rotherham had lost and MK Dons had drawn, their position at the top of the table was strengthened and the fans were especially jubilant.
The Lang and Keane goalscoring combo has been magnificent this season and they have taken a lot of the plaudits but the whole squad has been excellent. They have been solid defensively but also combative and creative in midfield. With six game’s remaining they are within touching distance of promotion and the title would surely be the icing on the cake.
Speaking to the media after the game, Richardson said:
“I enjoyed it just as much as our fans!
“Again, credit to the players for their hard work from Tuesday night, including the lads who didn’t play with how they trained on Wednesday preparing for Saturday – collectively they’re a pleasure to work with.
“We need to keep our habits strong and keep our consistency because we’re trying to get results and be competitive – thankfully we did that today and got the result.
“We spoke about how Lincoln are very good in the early stages of each half; they’re very fast in their restarts, very fluent, coached well and have some really good players.
“I thought our lads took real care and attention to that; when the chances came we took them – a little bit of criticism maybe for their goal but you’d be nit-picking, because we had chances to finish the game off.
“The atmosphere is fantastic here and our away support – it goes without saying – but they out-sing most around the country and when they do that, the energy levels come onto the pitch and when the game was in the balance they helped us.
“We score in front of them again – Langy has a great habit of doing that – and thankfully the lads are still going in those strong areas collectively and the lads at the back have the concentration levels, the lads that go on maintain those levels too.
“I think performances breed results, so if you’re playing well then you’ll more or less get that little bit of luck. This time of the season, though, you want to win first and the lads know that; the resilience of them, they know how to win manage games and if their consistencies and habits stay the same, we’ll be fine.”
Commenting on the performance of striker Josh Magennis, who played a part in all three goals, Richardson added:
“I thought Josh was really, really pivotal for the team today – I thought he knitted everything together, worked tirelessly hard, running the full length of the pitch near the end and where he does 30-yard runs it stops other people having to do a 50-yard run. He’s a senior player, a number nine, and he carries goals but it’s all about everything else he does for the team.”