- League One leaders Wigan Athletic slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat to Cambridge United at the DW Stadium.
- Latics produced a lacklustre first half display and the visitors deservedly went ahead when Joe Ironside set up Harvey Knibbs who finished clinically on 33 minutes.
- Cambridge doubled their lead on 43 minutes when Sam Smith headed into the top corner from James Brophy’s excellent left-wing cross.
- Latics rejigged their formation at half-time and they were much better in the second half.
- Tom Naylor headed a goal back from a corner on 77 minutes and Latics were unlucky not to draw level in added time when Will Keane was denied by a superb save from goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov.
- Despite the setback Latics remain top of the table four points ahead of both second place Rotherham and third place MK Dons. Cambridge move up to 12th in the table.
Latics made two changes from their goalless draw at Burton Albion in midweek, with Graeme Shinnie and Gwion Edwards coming into the starting XI for Joe Bennett and Jason Kerr.
Richardson surprisingly started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Tendayi Darikwa at left back and Max Power at right back with Shinnie and Naylor the two men in midfield.
It was the visitors who started the stronger and from a short corner Jack Iredale’s cross found Lloyd Jones at the far post, but the central defender headed into the side-netting.
A U’s free-kick was then headed across goal by Iredale, but Williams was unable to get his effort on target.
At the other end Josh Magennis fired a dangerous cross into the penalty area from the right, but it just evaded Will Keane in the six-yard box.
Shinnie then had an opportunity when the ball came to him 25 yards out but his early strike cleared the crossbar.
Cambridge’s physicality and work rate was causing Latics plenty of problems with top scorer Ironside prominent.
They deservedly went ahead when Ironside muscled his way into the box and set up Knibbs who produced a clinical finish into the bottom corner of the net.
The visitors nearly added to their lead when Adam May’s volley from 25 yards out was well turned away by Ben Amos.
But they did double their lead just two minutes before the break after Smith powerfully headed home from Brophy’s excellent left-sided cross.
The U’s could’ve added to their lead when Knibbs battled his way into the penalty area, but this time, he fired narrowly wide under the challenge of Jack Whatmough.
The change in formation had not worked for Latics in the first half and Richardson reverted to three centre halves and two wingbacks for the second half. Tom Pearce and Jason Kerr replacing Edwards and Shinnie at the break.
Pearce was soon in the action and produced an inviting cross to find Magennis, but the striker’s header was collected by Mitov.
Latics were more energised now and Darikwa’s cross found Callum Lang inside the penalty area, but the Latics striker was unable to get any power on his effort.
The hosts continued to press forward and they reduced the deficit in the 78th minute when Naylor headed home at the near post.
Pearce played a corner short to Power and his first-time cross was headed into the top right corner by Naylor.
Against the run of play Cambridge almost added a third goal when Williams headed a left-sided corner towards goal, but Amos saved brilliantly to deny him.
In added time Keane thought he had saved a point when he headed Power’s cross towards the top corner, but Mitov produced a superb save before saving the rebound with Magennis closing in.
Latics nine game unbeaten run had come to an end but they remained at the top of the table.
Richardson’s formation change had not helped their cause with Darikwa playing out of position at left back in the first half. They had started slowly and were second best to Cambridge in the first half.
The visitors were extremely competitive and they deserve special credit for their first half performance. Latics had lacked energy and looked jaded but they were much improved in the second period. Only a superb double save had stopped them from taking a point.
Latics are still in pole position but they know they will have to be much better in the remaining four fixtures if they are to secure promotion to the Championship.
Speaking to Media afterwards, Richardson felt that the League One encounter was a game of two halves, but the impetus is now on Latics to respond in the right manner ahead of the final four matches of the 2021/22 campaign.
“The result was disappointing,” he said.
“I thought the game was the old proverbial of a game of two halves. I thought we started the game a little bit slow in possession and you’ve got to give credit to Cambridge who worked hard to create some chances in the first half.
“They took their chances and we weren’t as productive in the opposition half during the first half. I thought in the second half, we played with a tempo and with a really good flowing mindset that we’ve had for most of the year.
“Fair credit to them (Cambridge United), they’ve come and fallen on the right side of the result. It’s up to us to do the right thing for Tuesday and the remaining games.
“It’s important what we do now before Tuesday. We’ve got four games – and 12 points to play for – and you’re going to need a certain amount of points to be successful.
“I’ve been fortunate – as have a lot of the lads – to have been involved in successful campaigns and you know what it takes. Tomorrow, we’ll certainly digest the result and prepare properly for Tuesday.”