- Wigan Athletic defeated Stoke City 1-0 at the Bet365 Stadium to keep their slim Championship survival hopes alive.
- Former Latic Nick Powell had an early chance for the hosts but decided to lay the ball off and the chance went begging.
- Stoke struggled to gain any attacking momentum in the first half and Latics defended solidly.
- Latics went ahead on 54 minutes when Will Keane produced a superb volleyed finish into the bottom corner.
- Stoke huffed and puffed to little effect and Latics might have had had two further goals but Tendayi Darikwa fired narrowly wide and substitute Ashley Fletcher had an effort cleared off the line.
- Latics remain bottom of the table and are five points from safety with three games remaining. Stoke drop to 17th place in the table.
Shaun Maloney made four changes to the line-up which lost at Blackpool with Jamie Jones, Tendayi Darikwa, Christ Tiehi, and Josh Magennis all starting. Ben Amos and Charlie Hughes were unavailable due to injuries.
Powell had a great opportunity for the hosts in the second minute when he found himself unmarked in the six-yard box but instead of shooting he laid the ball off and the chance was wasted.
In a subdued atmosphere at the Stadium neither team created many other opportunities until a James McClean cross shot in the 33rd minute was well saved by Stoke goalkeeper Jack Bonham.
Five minutes later a dangerous cross from Magennis came to McClean at the back post but he couldn’t get the ball under control and the opportunity was gone.
In added time in the first half McClean then produced an inviting cross into the six-yard box but Magennis couldn’t quite make the vital contact.
0-0 at half-time but with Latics looking increasingly more dangerous.
After an uneventful opening to the second half Latics went ahead in the 54th minute. Max Power crossed into a crowded penalty area but Keane got to the ball first and produced a superb volleyed finish into the bottom corner.
Almost immediately Stoke had a great chance to equalise as Jack Whatmough failed to clear but Tyrese Campbell missed the target from a good position in the box.
On 66 minutes Latics should’ve added to their lead when Darikwa’s right-footed strike from inside the box was inches wide of the post.
Soon afterwards the hosts had an opportunity when Morgan Fox blazed over the crossbar from a good position in the box.
Keane was withdrawn on 77 minutes and replaced by Tom Naylor and Fletcher replaced Magennis on 80 minutes as Latics looked to hang on to the three points.
There was some late Stoke pressure but the hosts were unable to create any clear-cut chances and it was Latics who should have added to their lead in the 90th minute.
Callum Lang did superbly to get to the byline and cut the ball back to Fletcher who touched it past the keeper into the path of Power, who returned it to Fletcher, but his goal bound shot was cleared off the line.
A deserved win for Latics who keep their slim survival chances alive with three games remaining. They will hope the other Championship results go their way on Wednesday night before they face Millwall at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
This was a much improved performance from the defeat at Blackpool. Latics were the better side against a strangely subdued Stoke City team and they deserved their first away victory since October.
Latics defended solidly in the first half and gradually started to assert themselves as the match progressed. Keane produced a fine finish but they could have won by further goals if Darikwa and Fletcher had converted their chances.
Jamie Jones gave a confident display between the sticks and his distribution allowed the Tics to get further up the field. Ryan Nyambe, Whatmough and Omar Rekik were much improved on recent games, but perhaps the most improved area was the attacking combination of Keane, Magennis and Lang who combined well throughout the game.
Latics survival chances are still slim, as they must win all of their remaining three games against Millwall, Reading and Rotherham and hope the others slip up.
Latics’ fans will, no doubt, be closely watching Wednesday’s Championship fixtures involving teams in the relegation battle which are: QPR v Norwich, Watford v Cardiff and Reading v Luton.
Post match comments
Speaking afterwards, Maloney was understandably upbeat and believed that his players were excellent to a man on what was an extremely successful Tuesday night for the Tics in Stoke.
“It was a brilliant result and an amazing performance from the first whistle,” he said.
“I thought the players were outstanding to a man. Everyone who came on produced added energy and I thought there were some brilliant performances tonight.
“We defended very well at times and thought we were good on the ball when we had to be. I thought our forward players were outstanding too.
“I thought to a man, everyone was outstanding and every bit of credit and praise has to go to our players.
“I think everyone should be very proud of that performance. The fans were also excellent when we needed them, and there were definitely (testing) moments when we could hear them singing.
“I’m so glad for the players because what they gave us today was as good as anything we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
At least you got a reaction. We too played far better than Saturday but poor finishing and the now mandatory period of switching off once more did for us. The game is up this season; from our perspective we don’t deserve to stay up. All the best.
Much better from us. If only we’d played like that on Saturday! There’s still a glimmer of hope for both of us but we’ll probably see you in League One next season.
It’s the hope that kills you! We haven’t won away since October so I don’t see us picking up three points at both Birmingham and Norwich. I’ve now at the acceptance of our fate stage!