- Wigan Athletic produced one of their best ever Championship away performances with a heroic 1-0 victory at St Andrew’s.
- Latics were harshly reduced to ten-men after only 10 minutes when Joe Bennett was adjudged to have brought down Lukas Jutkiewicz.
- But Leam Richardson’s team were resolute throughout, restricted Birmingham to very few chances and created good opportunities themselves.
- On 82 minutes substitute Charlie Wyke returning to the side after suffering from a cardiac arrest combined with fellow substitute Nathan Broadhead and the Everton loanee finished clinically into the bottom corner.
- Latics held out in the remaining minutes and recorded their first victory of the season and remain unbeaten after four games.
- Wigan move up to 14th place in the Championship table and Birmingham are 18th.
Richardson made one change from last week’s draw with Bristol City with goalkeeper Jamie Jones replacing the injured Ben Amos.
Early on Przemyslaw Placheta tried his luck from the edge of the area, but his rising effort was didn’t trouble Jones in the Latics goal.
Latics were wrongly reduced to ten-men in the 10th minute when Bennett was harshly adjudged to have brought down Jutkiewicz as he was running through on goal.
The visitors had to reshuffle the defence with McClean filling in at left back.
Juninho Bacuna’s resulting free-kick, was fortunately for Latics, fired just wide of the left-hand post.
The Blues then had a big chance when the ball was pulled back from the right-hand side to Scott Hogan, but Jack Whatmough did superbly to make a crucial block.
Latics then went close when James McClean’s corner was headed back across goal by Jason Kerr and it fell to Tom Naylor on the edge of the box and his volleyed effort went narrowly wide of the target.
Latics started the second half strongly and they were gifted a real goal-scoring opportunity when a loose pass out of the Blues defence allowed Callum Lang to drive into the penalty area, but the forward was unable to capitalise on the opportunity.
The Blues came close when a cross-field pass fell to Bacuna but Jason Kerr diverted his low shot behind for a corner.
Jutkiewicz then managed to get on the end of a cross from Maxime Colin, but his header was comfortably saved by Jones.
Latics threatened when Max Power’s low angled drive tested John Ruddy at his near post.
The Blues then threatened in the 81st minute through former Latics striker Sam Cosgrove, but Jones saved brilliantly pushing the strike around the post.
Moments later Latics were ahead as substitutes Wyke and Broadhead combined superbly.
Wyke held the ball up before sending through the Everton loanee, and he drove forward before producing a clinical finish into the bottom corner.
Birmingham pushed players forward as they attempted to try and draw level.
But Latics defence was determined not to be breached and they deservedly held out.
Despite playing for most of the game with ten-men and several of the players suffering from cramp they had earned a magnificent first three points of the season.
After going down to ten-men Latics had defended superbly and threatened on the break. They had worked tirelessly, putting their bodies on the line.
When Wyke came on there was one of the loudest ever cheers by the away fans.
His hold up play was excellent with some terrific touches and he brilliantly set up Broadhead for the winner.
This was an all round team effort and the players deserve great credit for their tenacious victory at St Andrew’s.
Building something very special
Richardson has marshalled his troops superbly since taking over as manager.
He has guided the club through a traumatic period of administration, won the League One title in his first full season and is now establishing Latics as a force in the Championship.
He has made some very astute signings and has instilled a fantastic team spirit within the club.
He is a superb figurehead for the club and is loved by the supporters.
With the continued financial backing of Phoenix 2021, Richardson could be on the verge of creating something very special at Wigan Athletic.
Post match comments
Reflecting afterwards Richardson said:
“I thought the output the lads gave today [was fantastic]; everybody who went onto the pitch, with the information that they had to carry out to go and get that victory, I thought they represented themselves terrifically well and deserved the win.
“It wasn’t [an ideal start]; and I’d rather not comment on refereeing decisions because they have a lot of moving parts, some they get right, some they get wrong.
I’d rather be positive and look at Charlie Wyke coming back on the pitch, Jamie Jones with a clean sheet, Nathan Broadhead’s first goal, the lads carrying the job out terrifically well and the captain setting the example around the pitch. The distance covered by the team collectively was fantastic.
“I think we prepared as well as we could this week and within the change and the sending off, I still felt we could control large parts of the game in certain areas and we could control large parts of the game out of possession as well and we were comfortable with that at times, although we had to be respectful of the quality of player that was on the pitch because they had a lot of Premier League and Championship experience on the pitch.”
On Wyke, who made his first competitive appearance for Latics after suffering a cardiac arrest nine months ago,
“You know my thoughts on the person – nevermind the footballer – and I know how hard he has worked from nine months ago to get back in training and get back on the pitch. There was never going to be anybody who could stop him.
“All I had to do was support him and give him that platform to do that – I thought his touch was fantastic so he has obviously been doing something while he’s been away! His assist was great as well.”