REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 LEEDS 0
Martyn Waghorn’s first-half strike, a day after he signed permanent terms with Latics, proved to be enough as Latics extended their unbeaten run at the DW Stadium to 11 with a 1-0 win over Leeds United.
A tight-affair was decided when Waghorn fired into Jack Butland’s right-hand corner just after the half-hour, temporarily extending Latics’ lead on their play-off rivals to nine points.
The hosts restricted Leeds to just one effort on target as a professional display continued Uwe Rosler’s fine home record.
Rosler made two changes to the side that drew with Leicester City on Tuesday with Waghorn and Callum McManaman replacing Jack Collison and Nicky Maynard.
Brian McDermott made two changes to his Leeds side with former Latic Michael Brown returning in place of Alex Mowatt and Noel Hunt replacing Aidy White.
A quiet opening ten minutes to the game saw no efforts on goal with both sides finding their feet in the early kick-off.
Latics had the first real chance on the quarter hour as Jordi Gomez’s curling free-kick was flicked-on by James Perch with Nick Powell inches from connecting at the back post.
Leeds’ first real opening came as Gomez was dispossessed by Brown who set Ross McCormack through on goal only for the Scot’s fellow countryman James McArthur to make a fine recovery challenge.
Gomez went inches from bagging his tenth goal of the campaign on 24 minutes as Waghorn slid the ball to the Spaniard 25 yards from goal and he fizzed a left-footed drive just wide of the post.
It was a Gomez-Powell combination that saw Latics force another save from Butland on the half-hour as Gomez’s curled free-kick was met by the Manchester United loanee but England international Butland claimed to his left.
Minutes later and Latics were ahead as McArthur drove at the Leeds defence before Waghorn curled the loose ball into Butland’s bottom right-hand corner from 22 yards.
Latics started the second-half with a real intensity as McManaman’s pass found Perch at the back post with the on-rushing wing-back seeing his shot deflected over by Jason Pearce.
Waghorn, who was impressive throughout, curled a 30-yard free-kick narrowly over the bar after he was fouled by Pearce as Latics continued to see the majority of the ball in the opening ten minutes of the first-half.
Leeds rarely tested Ali Al Habsi in the Latics goal with Sam Byram breaking down the right and firing high and wide on the volley as close as it looked McDermott’s side would come.
Byram turned provider minutes later as he whipped in a deep cross which was met by Matt Smith, though the tall striker headed wide of Al Habsi’s left-hand post.
As the hour mark passed, the visitors upped the ante and Tonge’s 25-yard shot was fortunately deflected into Al Habsi’s path by the Latics defence.
Substitute James McClean was the next to go close for Latics as Perch intercepted Butland’s kick before feeding the Republic of Ireland international who twisted onto his weaker right foot before forcing a low stop from the Leeds keeper.
Lees headed a McCormack set-piece over at the back post after Ivan Ramis had fouled Leeds substitute Dominic Poleon but the Whites continued to fail to test Al Habsi.
To the visitors’ credit, they continued to fight for an equaliser with McCormack, who was well marshalled throughout by the Latics backline, chipping narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Pearce headed another effort off target as he met Warnock’s corner at the back post with Leeds continuing their push for a leveller.
Gomez had a glorious chance to double Latics’ advantage in the final minute of normal time as substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune did well down the right before cutting back for the Spaniard who miscued his effort well wide.