Latics still waiting for promotion – Portsmouth 3 Wigan Athletic 2

Will Keane added his 24th league goal
  • League One leaders Wigan Athletic surrendered a two goal lead losing 3-2 at Portsmouth and require at least a point at Shrewsbury on the last day of the season to confirm promotion.
  • Latics went in front when Tom Pearce’s superb cross was headed home at the near post by Callum Lang on 38 minutes. They doubled their lead in first half stoppage time when Pearce again supplied the cross and Will Keane finished inside the six-yard box.
  • The hosts pulled a goal back on 62 minutes when George Hirst converted Marcus Harness’ cross although Pearce appeared to be fouled in the build up. Pompey were level two minutes later when Tendayi Darikwa slipped on the edge of his own box and Hirst curled the ball into the far corner of the net.
  • Worse was to come for the visitors when the hosts substitute Aidan O’Brien made it 3-2 on 87 minutes.
  • Leaders Latics are two points ahead of second place Rotherham with the same goal difference and three points ahead of third place MK Dons but with a six goal advantage. Portsmouth are in ninth place.

Leam Richardson named an unchanged starting XI from Saturday’s draw with Plymouth. Former Latic Michael Jacobs was in the Pompey team.

Latics had an early free-kick and when Jack Whatmough’s shot was blocked in the area Jordan Cousins blazed high and wide from the rebound.

The visitors then forced a series of corners but they couldn’t make them count.

Pompey started to gain more possession as the half progressed and they had a good opportunity when Tom Naylor was dispossessed in midfield And Hirst drove forward before firing narrowly wide of the target on 36 minutes.

But against the run of play Latics went ahead when Pearce’s superb left wing cross was headed powerfully home by Lang at the near post.

Ogilvie had an opportunity to draw Pompey level soon afterwards when his side-footed effort from 8-yards out was wide of the right hand post.

Latics doubled their lead in first half stoppage time with another superb counterattack. Pearce once again the provider with a left wing cross and Keane finished inside the six-yard box for his 24th league goal of the season.

2-0 at half-time but the hosts started strongly at the start of the second half.

Darikwa had to make a great defensive header at the back post to deny the incoming Pompey forwards.

The hosts pulled a goal back on 62 minutes when Hirst converted Marcus Harness’ cutback although Pearce was clearly fouled in the build up.

Pompey were level two minutes later when Darikwa slipped on the edge of the box and Hirst curled his strike into the far corner of Amos’ net.

Hirst had an opportunity put Pompey ahead when he chased a long ball but Whatmough got back to make a superb defensive tackle to deny him.

On 84 minutes Power’s clever free-kick down the right had side of the box found Naylor in space and the former Pompey midfielder forced a good save from Gavin Bazunu at his near post.

It looked as though Latics would get at least a point to confirm their promotion but with three minutes of normal time remaining Amos could only push away a Pompey shot and as Latics defenders failed to clear substitute O’Brien produced a left foot finish to thwart them.

Latics now need to at least match MK Dons or Rotherham’s results on the final day of the season to guarantee their promotion. A victory for Latics will guarantee the League One title.

Speaking afterwards, Richardson admitted that while the defeat is naturally a tough pill to swallow, it’s important that his side regroup and immediately look ahead to Saturday’s trip to Shrewsbury Town.

“The result is tough to take,” he said.

“I thought we worked hard to get the two-goal lead. I think their first goal was a free kick and the second one was obviously a mistake. It’s important that we quickly move on.

“It’s important that we get our habits at the right standard, like they have been all year. We sit in a place after 45 games with everything in our hands and it’s important at this time of the year, senior players and people around the Football Club lead.

“If I’m being really fair, I thought they were better than us on the night. I thought we worked hard and got our tails in front. I’ve previously worked here and the atmosphere can play a part, and sometimes with the officials, but we’ve got to overcome that. 

“If we prepare properly and regenerate properly from now towards the weekend, it’ll stand us in good stead.”

Latics will head into the final day of the 2021/22 campaign knowing that a victory will be enough to seal promotion to the Championship as champions of League One. Richardson expressed that it is paramount that his players draw upon all their previous experiences and take control of their own destiny.

“It’ll be pivotal as it’s important that you draw upon all your experience because people look for people to lead in circumstances,” he explained.

“These lads have worked tirelessly hard for a long time and they’ve put themselves in a place where they hold everything in their own hands. It’s down to them to get it over the line.”

Player ratings courtesy of


About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
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