Latics still fighting for survival – Wigan Athletic 2 Millwall 1

Thelo Aasgaard scored his fourth goal of the season

  • Wigan Athletic kept their slender Championship survival hopes alive with a 2-1 victory against playoff hopefuls Millwall at the DW Stadium.
  • Latics went ahead after 14 minutes when Will Keane fired home after good work by Callum Lang.
  • The visitors were level when Tom Bradshaw crossed for George Saville to score from close range on the half hour.
  • Both sides had chances in the second half but Latics got a deserved winner when Lang set up substitute Thelo Aasgaard and the young Norwegian produced a calm finish to secure the vital three points.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table and are four points from safety with two games remaining. Millwall are now in seventh place.

Shaun Maloney kept the same starting XI that won 1-0 at Stoke City in midweek.

Latics started brightly and got an early breakthrough at the DW Stadium. In the 14th minute Lang’s tantalising right-sided cross was spilled by keeper George Long and Keane clinically finished for his 12th goal of the season.

This early goal boosted Latics’ confidence and they went close through Lang seven minutes later. The tireless striker chased the ball down and forced midfielder Shaun Hutchinson into a mistake. Lang drove forward into the box and his low effort was just wide of the far post.

In the visitors first serious attack they drew level on the half-hour mark when Scott Malone’s cut-back from the left was converted at the near post by Saville.

Just before half-time Millwall might’ve gone ahead when Callum Styles nearly got on the end of a dangerous cross from the right-hand side. A lucky escape for the Tics.

Latics came out forcefully at the start of the second half, with James McClean seeing his goal-bound effort blocked behind for a corner.

From the corner, Christ Tiéhi’s volley appeared to strike the hand of a Millwall defender, but the referee Bobby Madley waved away the penalty appeals.

It was end-to-end stuff now and Jamie Jones was called into action making two important saves in quick succession. First, Jones pushed Zian Flemming’s fierce effort wide, before he recovered well to deny Malone after the Millwall midfielder intercepted his throw-out.

Latics’ drove forward again and McClean’s deep cross was kept alive by Lang at the far post and he headed into the path of Magennis, but Long did just enough to smother the loose ball.

Maloney’s men continued to press forward for the all important winner and Max Power’s strike from 20 yards out was blocked before it could reach the visitors’ goal.

Maloney introduced Charlie Hughes, Aasgaard, and Ashley Fletcher in place of Omar Rekik, Tiéhi and Magennis in the 67th minute.

Substitute Aasgaard was quick to attack the Lions defence and his fierce drive was blocked behind for a corner.

Substitute Hughes then produced a superb cross into the box which was headed on by Fletcher into the path of Keane, who was unable to make proper contact and the chance was missed.

Referee Madley frustrated Latics again with 15 minutes remaining when Lang looked to be kicked as he tried to shoot but instead of awarding the penalty he signalled for a corner.

Latics finally made their pressure count in the 84th minute with Aasgaard’s crucial finish. Lang surged down the wing and crossed into the path of the young Norwegian midfielder in the centre of the box and he calmly hit his low effort into the bottom corner.

Despite six minutes of added time Latics held out to keep their Championship survival hopes alive.


This was another fighting display by Latics to back up their improved midweek performance at Stoke.

They have shown a marked improvement in the last two games, particularly in the final third. Keane has been pushed a little further forward and if Latics can improve their service to him he is always likely to get on the scoresheet.

Goalkeeper Jamie Jones has added a calmness to the defence and his distribution has generally been excellent.

The squad has responded well to Maloney’s coaching methods and if only he had been appointed instead of Kolo Toure they would probably have been safe by now.

The odds are still very much stacked against them but strange things do happen when Wigan Athletic are involved. Latics have had some great escapes in the past but this would surely be the greatest of great escapes.

They will need to win their two remaining games away at Reading and at home to Rotherham and hope that others slip up.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney was pleased with the performance – but even happier with his side’s effort levels throughout an enjoyable afternoon.

“I thought it was a brilliant performance again against a good team,” he said.

“They had one really dangerous cross which led to the goal, but it was mainly set plays where they had big chances. For us as a team, we were very good defensively and I’m starting to see us have a real attacking threat. 

“We had to leave it all out there, and I thought the performance was good – and the effort was even better.

“I loved the fighting spirit. In the last two games, we’ve won the fight, and in the next two, we’re going to have to do the same.”

The Latics supporters have backed Maloney since his arrival and the players have battled to keep their survival hopes alive.

“The players were fantastic, along with the supporters,” he smiled.

“I could sense that the fans were there when we needed them today, and they came to the fore. You can see the connection between the players and the fans.”

“We need to win the next two matches and see where it takes us. That’s where we are at.

“We can let the players and supporters enjoy today, and come Monday, we go again and we’re going to have to win the fight again.”

Ashley Fletcher was introduced in the final quarter, and despite sustaining a nasty elbow injury, he battled through the pain barriers in order to help the team see out the game.

Maloney reserved special praise for the Watford FC loan forward, as he showed an immense fighting spirit to continue when a lot of players would’ve bowed out in a similar situation.

“A big mention to Ashley Fletcher – he looks like he’s got a really bad elbow injury, but for him to get up and press the way that he did, the reason is why we didn’t give up many chances in the last few minutes and that’s because of me.

“His teammates can be very proud of what he did for them today because he was in a lot of pain and it doesn’t look like a good injury. 

“He gave us everything – and more today.”

Maloney will provide a further update on Ashley in midweek, ahead of the trip to Reading on Saturday.

Player ratings

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Millwall, Shaun Maloney, Thelo Aasgaard, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Latics still fighting for survival – Wigan Athletic 2 Millwall 1

  1. Somehow we both live to fight another day!

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