- League One leaders Wigan Athletic rode their luck in a hard-fought goalless draw against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium.
- Latics defence looked shaky in the first half and Burton had opportunities to go ahead through Michael Mancienne, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Harry Chapman.
- The visitors best chance fell to Josh Magennis with a one-on-one with Matej Kovar but the Manchester United loanee keeper did well to deny him.
- The second half was an even affair with both teams creating opportunities to break the deadlock.
- The Brewers looked like they had won it in added time when Joe Powell lobbed Ben Amos but Kell Watts came to the rescue and produced an outstanding headed goal line clearance to save Latics’ blushes.
- Latics’ point plus Rotherham’s defeat at Portsmouth puts them seven points clear of third place and four points clear of second place MK Dons and with a game in hand. Burton are in 17th place.
Leam Richardson named an unchanged starting XI from their 3-1 victory at Lincoln City on Saturday in front of a sold out away following of 1,650.
Latics made a bright start at the Pirelli Stadium, and they had their first attempt on goal in the 11th minute.
Callum Lang cut inside from the left before setting up Tom Naylor for a first time shot from 20 yards out, but the combative midfielder couldn’t keep his effort down.
Further goalscoring opportunities were limited until the visitors went close in the 25th minute.
Magennis did well to dispossess Deji Oshilaja in the final third and race clear on goal, but the Brewers goalkeeper Kovar came out strongly to deny him.
Burton then went close when a cross was half-cleared into the path of Mancienne, but his volley from the edge of the area was superbly turned around the post by Ben Amos.
The Brewers were encouraged from Mancienne’s effort and came close just moments later through Cameron Borthwick-Jackson after his low strike from 20-yards was deflected narrowly wide of the post.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s team had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when they broke quickly following a Latics corner and Chapman latched onto a poor back pass by Power but he lifted his effort over the onrushing Amos.
Latics were under the cosh now and were defending desperately. Amos mis-kicked a clearance and the backline looked extremely vulnerable to the Brewers attacks.
The visitors upped their game in the second half and Naylor curled Tendayi Darikwa’s pull-back towards goal, but Matej Kovar was able to make the save.
Latics nearly broke the deadlock when Joe Bennett’s free-kick from deep was met by Keane, but the Brewers keeper tipped the ball onto the roof of the net.
The Brewers had an opportunity in the 69th minute when after Tom Hamer’s deep cross found Niasse at the far post the substitute fired his effort wide from close range.
With just seven minutes remaining Max Power’s deep cross almost sneaked into the net but it just skimmed the top of the crossbar.
Substitute Stephen Humphrys then did well to cross for Lang to attack, but unfortunately his header came off Magennis and went behind for a goal-kick.
In added time Watts came to Latics’ rescue with an outstanding piece of defending.
After a goalmouth scramble, Powell looked to have won the game for the hosts when he lobbed Amos but Watts somehow managed to get back and incredibly head off the goal line and bring the Burton players to their knees in frustration.
The game ended goalless but Latics had been lucky to extend their unbeaten run to nine games. They had not been at their best but credit should go to a determined Burton team who nearly caused an upset.
Latics’ point plus Rotherham’s defeat at Portsmouth puts them seven points clear of third place and four points clear of second place MK Dons and with a game in hand.
With only five games remaining they are still in the driving seat for automatic promotion.
Speaking to the media afterwards Richardson said,
“You can come to Burton on any given day, and you know that you’re going to get challenged,” he said.
“They keep you healthy all the way through the game, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. I thought it was going to be a game where something would be created on the back of a mistake, and thankfully we defended off ours.
“Credit to Burton, they pushed us all the way to the end. We were just waiting for that little bit of quality within the game.
“It was always going to be challenging and you have to meet them for the fight, and hope then your bit of quality comes through. Fair credit to Burton, I thought they defended resolutely, as we did for large parts. We’ll take our point and move on.
“I thought we got in some decent positions out wide and probably could’ve done better, but I felt we worked tirelessly hard to get our point tonight.”
Latics will be hoping to move towards automatic promotion on Easter Saturday when Cambridge United are the visitors. Richardson is hoping the supporters can continue to provide their magnificent energy from the stands.
“Our fans won’t let us down. They will turn up and give us the energy levels that they normally do at this time of the year,” he said.
“We need energy levels from all different places and different departments and I’m sure the fans will give us that on Saturday.”