WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 ROTHERHAM UNITED 2A second half header from Alex Revell was enough to cancel out Ben Watson’s fine equaliser, and consign Wigan Athletic to their fourth straight defeat.
Watson looked to have given Wigan some much needed momentum when he cancelled out Tom Lawrence’s opener, but Revell’s looping header just sixty seconds later stole all three points for the visitors.
Thoughts about the game was temporarily put on hold before kick-off, as attentions were turned to the excellent tribute to the Christmas Truce by the club and Wigan Council, which was followed by a perfectly observed minute’s silence by both the home and away fans.
Latics manager Malky Mackay installed some consistency into his line-up for the tie, with only the one change to his starting eleven; Shaun Maloney coming in for Roger Espinoza, with Oriol Riera coming onto the bench in place of Andy Delort.
The decision to stick with last week’s game plan helped to settle Wigan, and they made an assertive start to the contest, seeing plenty of the ball early on in affairs.
Callum McManaman looked particularly lively, and he was unlucky not to put his side in front in the ninth minute. The forward broke down the left hand side and cut inside, beating three defenders before testing Adam Collin with a low effort.
Wigan continued to press early on, and were appealing for a penalty three minutes later in the melee that followed from Ben Watson just failing to get on the end of James McClean’s cross, when McManaman’s low effort looked to have hit a hand in a crowd of opposition shirts.
Rotherham hit back, and could have taken the lead themselves before the twenty minute mark through Emmanuel Ledesma, who first stung the hands of Scott Carson, before firing wide on the rebound.
Latics continued to look the stronger force however, and produced their best chance of the half after twenty two minutes through Ben Watson, who capitalised on McCann’s fine placed header in the box following a corner, but could only screw the ball wide on the volley from twelve yards.
The visitors continued to grow into the game, and went close in the 39th minute, with Lawrence forcing a good save from Carson.
Wigan were unable to heed the warning, and fell behind just sixty seconds later, when Lawrence capitalised on a back pass from Andrew Taylor to coolly slot the ball past Carson.
Chris McCann tried to conjure up an immediate response, volleying wide, but Latics found themselves behind at the interval.
Latics were unable to start the second half with the same vigour as the first, and it was Rotherham who had the first opportunity eight minutes in; Alex Revel firing straight at Carson in the area.
Mackay soon changed his approach, introducing Marc-Antoine Fortune and Oriol Riera to give his side more of an attacking threat.
The move paid dividends, and Latics were level in the 63rd minute in familiar circumstances, when Ben Watson produced a fantastic near post header from a James McClean corner to beat Collin and put his side level.
Celebrations were soon cut short though, as Rotherham were back in front just sixty seconds later through Alex Revell, whose looping header from a free kick restored the visitors advantage.
Wigan struggled to get back on terms, and it could have gotten worse ten minutes from time, when Andrew Taylor was forced to hack the ball off the line after Jordan Bowery’s dangerous low cross.
Substitute Oriol Riera almost stole a point in the dying seconds with a great effort however, leaping over the defence and hitting the bar, but Rotherham held on to seal the win.