Honours even as Latics return to the Championship – Wigan Athletic 0 Preston North End 0

Ben Amos produced a magnificent double save

  • Wigan Athletic opened their Championship account with a hard-fought 0-0 draw with local rivals Preston North End at the DW Stadium.
  • Latics had good opportunities to score with Will Keane, Jack Whatmough and Callum Lang all going close.
  • Ben Amos produced a magnificent double save to deny Spurs loanee Troy Parrott and Emile Riis in the first half.
  • With 18 minutes of the second half remaining PNE substitute Ched Evans was red carded for a dangerous foul on Curtis Tilt, but despite Latics best efforts they could not make the extra man count.

Leam Richardson made three changes from the team that lifted the League One Trophy against Shrewsbury Town at the end of last season. Joe Bennett, Curtis Tilt and Josh Magennis came into the starting eleven in place of Jason Kerr, the injured Jordan Cousins and the departed loanee Kell Watts. 

Latics started strongly in front of 15,429 expectant spectators and they went close in the fourth minute.  Lang set up captain Tendayi Darikwa down the right-hand side, his cross found Will Keane but his strike was narrowly wide of the target.

Preston’s first effort came in the 11th minute when Ben Whiteman’s deflected effort, flew wide of Amos’ near post.

Latics forced a succession of corners in the 17th minute and very nearly took the lead when Max Power’s corner to the back post fell to Whatmough, whose strike drew a good save from Woodman.

From another corner Power found Naylor whose near-post header was held by Woodman at the second attempt.

The visitors then pressed to make the breakthrough with Riis going close. Andrew Hughes crossed from Latics’ right-hand side to the near post but narrowly out of Riis’ reach.

Riis then had a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock. The Danish forward was clean through on goal but he pulled his effort well wide of the far post from a great position just inside the box.

Latics suffered a big blow on 38 minutes when last season’s player of the year Jack Whatmough had to be withdrawn due to injury. 

Just before the half time break Amos kept Latics in the game with a superb double save.

A through ball found Parrott one-on-one against Amos and the Latics’ keeper dived to his left to push the ball away, Riis followed up and looked odds on to score but Amos once again saved superbly this time with his legs. Preston went close from the resulting corner but Latics goal somehow stayed intact.

It was a frantic start to the second half with Lang winning a free kick on the edge of the Preston box, but James McClean’s deep cross went out for a goal kick.

Magennis then headed down to the substitute Jason Kerr whose powerful header was deflected for a corner.

Latics pressure continued and Jordan Storey had to make an excellent block to deny Keane’s strike from just inside the box after good work from McClean.

The game continued to be closely contested but in the 65th minute Latics had another chance. Kerr started the move before Darikwa and Lang combined before the ball came to Keane who evaded his marker but could only fire the ball straight at Woodman.

The visitors then created their best chance of the half in the 71st minute. Robbie Brady’s through ball found Parrott whose snapshot was only narrowly wide of Amos’ far post.

In the 72nd minute North End were reduced to ten men when substitute Evans was shown a straight red card for a dangerous foul on Tilt.

Latics tried to make their extra man count and it looked like they might have done so when in the 89th minute Lang burst into the box, but he couldn’t keep his powerful drive down and his effort flew over the Preston crossbar.

In five minutes of added time substitute Tom Pearce tried his luck with a left-footed drive before Darikwa saw his low drive deflected for a corner.

Preston held on for a draw but Latics can be pleased with their opening performance against an established Championship team.

Overall a draw was probably a fair result on the balance of play and the chances created by both sides.

Richardson will know that Latics have big challenges ahead in the Championship and that the club must strengthen the squad before the transfer deadline on 1st September.

The manager will be disappointed to have lost central defender Whatmough to injury but early indications from the scan is that the injury is not too serious.

Post match comments

Richardson said,

“[The atmosphere and game] was as expected; kicking off in a Championship campaign against, in my opinion, a really strong football club who are going in a really strong direction and will have aspirations of getting in the top six this year.

“It was a challenge for us; we obviously got promoted last year, we have stepped up and the lads who got us promoted last year were in that starting XI today and they stood up to the task well.

“If they have aspirations individually and collectively to continue in the Championship, then we will have to pit our wits against really strong football clubs and certainly today we went toe-to-toe.

“The first-half was very even, and they possibly shaded it towards the end forcing two fantastic saves from Ben Amos before we grew into the game in the second-half.

“We were trading punches and the pace of the game was fantastic, the atmosphere from both sets of fans was brilliant and the concentration levels have to stay strong especially against teams like that so for Ben to pull that double save out towards the end of the first-half was fantastic.”

Ched Evans was given a straight red card for a mis-timed challenge on Latics defender Curtis Tilt in the second-half and though Latics had the numerical advantage, Richardson felt his side were going better before the visitors went down to ten men.

“I think them going down to ten men possibly made it more difficult for us, if truth be known,” he explained. “I felt we were imposing ourselves on the game but when they went down to ten men, they could sit ten yards deeper.

“We have to be patient and better at what we do then, but fair credit to both sets of players who entered the pitch and both sets of fans – it was a great day.”

Player ratings

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Ben Amos, Ched Evans, Leam Richardson, Preston North End, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Honours even as Latics return to the Championship – Wigan Athletic 0 Preston North End 0

  1. terrythomas1 says:

    Enjoyable game and happy with the point. Few more signings to give us more depth and hopefully we will be fine. Good write up Ian

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