- Wigan Athletic looked to be heading for well-earned point until Watford’s Joao Pedro headed an 87th minute winner at the DW Stadium.
- Latics had matched the Hornets in a hard-fought fixture with few chances for either side.
- The hosts hit the post from Will Keane’s header and Jamie Jones made an excellent save from Watford’s Ismaila Sarr but with the match heading for a draw Pedro rose highest to head home.
- Although Jack Whatmough headed against the crossbar in added time Latics couldn’t rescue the draw that their performance had deserved.
- Latics drop to 20th place in the Championship and Watford moved up to seventh place.
Leam Richardson made one change from last Saturday’s defeat against Queens Park Rangers, with Jones returning to the starting XI, in place of Ben Amos.
Latics started well and created an opportunity in the fifth minute. Will Keane tried his luck from 25 yards out and his powerful strike was well saved by Watford keeper Daniel Bachmann.
Soon afterwards the hosts had a great opportunity to take the lead when James McClean’s free kick from the right-hand side found Keane at the back post and his header from close range hit the outside of the post.
Watford gradually started to assert themselves and striker Vakoun Bayo nearly headed them ahead in the 16th minute. The visitors Dan Gosling crossed the ball towards Bayo, but he could only head the chance over Jones’ crossbar.
The Hornets continued to threaten and Jones made an excellent save in the 21st minute. Sarr combined well with Bayo and Jones who reacted instinctively with his legs to deflect the shot wide.
Latics then had a good spell and and they had a half-chance in the 35th minute. McClean’s ball into the box was picked up by Keane who did superbly to bring the ball down control but before he could pull the trigger Bachmann was quick off his line to snuff out the opportunity.
Keane went close again just four minutes later when McClean’s corner was headed down by Whatmough but under pressure, the striker just couldn’t keep the ball down and the chance went begging.
In the second half both teams continued to battle for dominance with Latics giving a good account of themselves.
In the 70th minute Bachmann nearly gave Latics the lead when he opted to palm Keane’s cross away instead of catching it. The ball looked like it would fall into the path of McClean, but Leicester City loanee Hamza Choudhury did well to close down the danger.
The visitors continued to be a threat on the break and they nearly went ahead in the 80th minute when Samuel Kalu burst down the right and crossed for Sarr in the six-yard box, but Whatmough did superbly to make a last-ditch block and save an almost certain goal.
Latics looked like they would hold on for a precious point but their hopes were dashed in the 87th minute. Yaser Asprilla’s cross into the far post was met by Joao Pedro who headed into the top corner to devastate the hosts.
In seven minutes of added time Latics pressed for the equaliser and they nearly managed a deserved draw when Whatmough’s looping header hit the crossbar but Watford survived the scare to take away the three points.
It is easy to get carried away and criticise the team and manager after another defeat but Richardson’s team have performed well in the last two games against two of the top teams in the Championship.
The club have come a long way since administration and consolidation in the Championship was always going to be the target for this season.
Latics deserved a draw against the League leaders QPR last week and it was agonising to lose out late on against a strong Watford team who will be pushing for a return to the Premier League.
Latics were balanced and organised and for the most part negated the threat of Watford’s expensively assembled forward line. They had some chances themselves but they had lacked a cutting edge with strikers Charlie Wyke and Callum Lang both absent due to injury and Watford loanee Ashley Fletcher unavailable.
Despite playing well in the last two games they are on a bad run and have now lost four in a row. It is not a time to panic but Richardson must find a way to get a positive result to address the slump before it becomes a crisis.
Post match comments
Richardson speaking afterwards said,
“It was very frustrating.”
“The question I ask myself – when the emotion is still very raw after the game – could the lads have given any more?
“We were up against a (former) international, Premier League manager with Premier League players, and the difference is in both boxes. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve played against the team top of the league and Watford today, and in the main, we’ve gone toe-to-toe.
“Our lads have given us everything that we’ve asked for, but then with all due respect, the moments are decided in both boxes.
“You’d like the performances to turn into results, and that’s something we will look forward to challenging ourselves to do.
“We have to get results and keep working hard within this group of players. They are really relishing the challenge and meeting it head-on.
“We have to take those (key) moments, and take the game away from other teams.”