- Wigan Athletic rescued a point at Cardiff City when Will Keane equalised from close range in the sixth minute of added time.
- In a scrappy game the Bluebirds had taken the lead in the 81st minute when Callum O’Dowda’s strike was unluckily deflected into the net by Latics defender Charlie Hughes.
- Just when it looked like Latics luck had run out in South Wales, Keane got on the end of Ashley Fletcher’s knock-down to finish from close range.
- Latics remain bottom of the Championship table and are effectively five points from safety due to their inferior goal difference and Cardiff are in 21st place just above the relegation zone.
Kolo Toure made three changes to the team which started against Luton in the FA Cup with Steven Caulker making his Latics debut along with Charlie Hughes and Keane who also returned to the starting XI.
The visitors created the first opportunity of when James McClean gained possession and fed Lang who drove forward and shot from 25 yards out, but his effort cleared the crossbar.
Neither side was able to gain the upper hand with passes going astray in the early stages. Gradually the home side started to enjoy greater possession and Jaden Philogene tried his luck from distance.
Soon afterwards former Latics loanee Sheyi Ojo’s cross from the left was met by Isaac Davies, but the striker couldn’t hit the target with his header.
Davies threatened again in the 36th minute when he raced onto a ball down the right and tried to chip Amos from distance, but the Latics keeper managed to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Just before half-time Latics created three opportunities to break the deadlock.
First, Caulker played the ball into the path of Lang who just couldn’t direct his header goalwards, before Jordan Cousins fired an effort wide from the edge of the area. Then, deep in added time Max Power found Lang with a lofted pass, but the striker couldn’t hit the target with his volley from a tight angle.
Arsenal loanee Miguel Azeez made his debut and replaced the injured Cousins late in the first half.
The visitors continued their good work and started the second half strongly. Power’s strike from 20 yards out, was spilled by Allsop but the keeper saved at the second attempt.
Azeez, came close to giving Toure’s Tics the lead in the 55th minute. The midfielder made a run into the box, and was picked out by Naylor, but he just couldn’t keep his volley down and make it count.
Cardiff continued to enjoy the greater possession but Latics created another chance through some more good play from the Arsenal loanee.
Azeez ran at the Bluebirds’ defence and set up Keane whose low effort was spilled by Allsop, but the keeper recovered to push the ball away, before Lang could capitalise.
There were chances at both ends now as both teams tried to break the deadlock and former Latics defender Cedric Kipre headed wide from Wintle’s free-kick, before Keane was again denied by Allsop with a close range effort.
The hosts finally broke the deadlock in the 81st minute. O’Dowda’s strike from the centre of the box was unluckily deflected by Hughes into the bottom corner of the Latics net.
It looked as though Latics would leave South Wales without a point but they continued to push forward in added time and they were rewarded in the 96th minute when Keane scored his 10th goal of the season from close-range after a knock-down from substitute Ashley Fletcher.
The result didn’t suit the home fans with loud booing at the end and after the game the Cardiff manager Mark Hudson was sacked.
The 600 or so travelling Latics fans were however in jubilant mood after the very late equaliser.
It wasn’t a pretty game against Cardiff but the Tics showed great character and battled to the end and gained an important point.
Overall they were defensively solid and although they lacked creativity going forward they still had several good chances to score.
Miguel Azeez had some promising touches when he came on and might have got on the scoresheet when he broke through into the box.
Latics have been hampered by injuries recently and they were once again without Jack Whatmough. But the experienced Steven Caulker had an impressive debut and Hughes and Tilt performed admirably.
The importance of striker Will Keane and his 10 goals this season cannot be overstated – without him Latics would be in terrible trouble.
There are rumours that Sheffield United are interested in signing Keane but the owners cannot allow him to leave in the transfer window.
Toure’s team is in a transitional period with new players coming in and others leaving the club, but they will need to get wins soon if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
Post match comments
Speaking afterwards Toure said he was delighted with the spirit that was on show from his side at Cardiff.
“I have to praise the players because they worked hard, and gave everything in the game,” he said.
“We started the game well, and I believe we were the better team in the first half. We created so many chances (throughout), but we have to be more clinical.
“In the second half, it was more balanced, but they started to dominate and scored.
“This afternoon, you could see the players were together and wanted to come back. It shows the team spirit that we are trying to create here, and we want our players to hate losing games.
“I have to praise them (the players) for their fighting spirit, and their mentality in refusing to lose. We want to make sure we give everything in every single game, so we can have no regrets.”
New January signing Steven Caulker made his debut and Toure was full of praise for the 31-year-old as he brought his outstanding leadership qualities to the Latics defence.
“Steven (Caulker) was unbelievable. You could see his leadership qualities at the back, with Tilty (Curtis Tilt) and young Charlie Hughes, and the back three was amazing today.”
You can’t beat a last minute equaliser(or winner) away from home. Are you visiting the seaside in April? I fear it will be a relegation party!
Yes it felt like a winner at the time! I’ll be at Bloomfield Road but I’m still hopeful we can stay up.
Regarding WA much will depend on them keeping Keane and strengthening during the window. Easier said than done. Blackpool are dead and buried if they keep Appleton.