- Wigan Athletic deservedly recorded their first home win of the season with a 1-0 victory against Blackburn Rovers.
- Latics were much improved after recent poor performances and were quickly out of the blocks against their North West rivals.
- The hosts had 13 shots to the visitors three and they went ahead in the 62nd minute when Will Keane’s chipped effort was parried by Rovers keeper Thomas Kaminski and Nathan Broadhead followed up to score.
- Ben Brereton Diaz had Rovers best opportunity on 70 minutes but he fired wide of the target from a good position inside the box.
- Despite some late Rovers pressure Latics defended resolutely and held out for their first home three points.
- Latics move up to ninth in the Championship table with a game in hand on Rovers who remain in seventh place.
Leam Richardson made three changes from the side that faced Cardiff City at the weekend. Curtis Tilt, Tom Naylor and Broadhead all returned to the starting XI in place of Joe Bennett, Graeme Shinnie, and Josh Magennis.
Latics started strongly with a high press and after just three minutes Jack Whatmough played a long ball to Charlie Wyke whose flicked header nearly found Broadhead but it was collected by Rovers’ goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.
After Kerr had been brought down, Max Power curled an enticing free-kick onto the head of Naylor whose diving header went wide of the near post.
Soon afterwards Broadhead cut inside and forced a good save from Kaminski at his near post.
Rovers first opportunity of the match came in the 24th minute. Brereton Diaz seized upon a loose ball in the Latics’ defence and drove into the penalty area, but his final shot was well wide of Ben Amos’ far post.
In the 34th minute Latics had a great opportunity to take the lead when Keane caught out Scott Wharton and nicked the ball away before advancing on Rovers’ goal. With only the keeper to beat Keane’s shot was struck straight and Kaminski pushed the ball away for a corner.
The first half ended 0-0 but Latics had been the better outfit and were unlucky not to be ahead at the break.
Rovers were improved at the start of the second half but Latics gradually re-asserted themselves and deservedly took the lead in the 62nd minute.
Keane stole the ball off Tyler Morton inside the penalty area and then tried to chip Kaminski who parried his shot into the path of Broadhead who tapped home for 1-0.
The hosts nearly had a second soon afterwards, when the Everton loanee Broadhead nearly headed home but he couldn’t keep his header down after Darikwa’s inviting cross found him free in the box.
Then Darikwa drove forward again jinking his way into the Rovers penalty area before firing low towards the far corner, but his shot went narrowly wide of the post.
Rovers then had their best chance in the 70th minute. A long ball found substitute Sam Gallagher in the area who flicked the ball onto Brereton Diaz. But the normally prolific striker smashed the ball well wide of Amos’ goal.
Josh Magennis and Ashley Fletcher replaced Wyke and Keane for Latics and Bradley Dack replaced Lewis Travis for Rovers on 82 minutes.
Latics defended resolutely with Darikwa doing well to contain Brereton Diaz, but one last chance fell to Dack in the 88th minute. But the midfielder’s his first touch was poor and the opportunity went begging.
The Latics fans celebrated at the final whistle as the team had held out for their first home win of the season.
Latics were much improved from their recent poor performances against Hull and Cardiff.
They were on the front foot right from the kick off and they played with a high intensity throughout. They were combative and committed and didn’t allow Blackburn to settle into their usual game.
It was testament to their hard work that Rovers only managed three shots in the game and none of them were on target.
There were many impressive performances with Wyke leading the line superbly, Power pushing forward and prompting from midfield and Whatmough and Kerr outstanding in defence. But overall this was a very strong team performance with every player showing 100 per cent commitment.
The step up in quality in the Championship was always going to be a challenge but Latics are adapting very well so far.
Richardson’s level headed approach is commendable and is helping Latics to adapt to the Championship. He doesn’t get too carried away when they win or too despondent when they lose.
If Richardson’s side can perform at the same high intensity at Sunderland on Saturday they are capable of getting a good result at the Stadium of Light.
Post match comments
Speaking afterwards, Richardson was impressed with his side’s performance levels as they edged Rovers in this Championship encounter.
“I think we performed in many of the games here at a good level, and we’ve probably not got what we deserved at times,” he said.
“I thought tonight with our work ethic and in possession, we caused them problems for most of the night and deserved to win.
“I thought that result was deserved tonight on a whole – with the output, work rate and the honesty that the lads give us because whatever result, you can always guarantee our lads walk off that pitch and can’t give you any more.
“They try and represent the shirt as well as they can, and represent each other as well as they can. Individually and collectively, they want to do the fans proud and I thought we deserved to fall on the right side of the result tonight.”
With Latics putting in a professional display to respond in the right way to two successive defeats, Richardson expressed the importance of not getting emotionally attached and continuing to stay focused on the task at hand.
“We’re here in the Championship trying to compete as best as we can with a group who want to learn and are relishing the challenge,” he said.
“We are trying to make them small steps forward every day, and the hardest challenge for us at the minute is the number of games that we’ve got coming every 72 hours.
“It’s important that we don’t get attached to results. We are on a journey in a 46-league-game campaign, and it’s important we stay on that.
“We’ve got to be really supportive of each other and make sure that nights like that we enjoy. We learned from Saturday, and came back stronger.”