REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 2 CHARLTON 1
A dramatic late turn around in a dominant performance saw three substitutes help clinch Latics a 2-1 victory over Charlton Athletic, with debutant Josh McEachran assisting Marc-Antoine Fortune for an 88th minute equaliser, with Jordi Gomez winning the game just inside stoppage time through an exquisite free kick.
Latics slipped behind after just three minutes when Marvin Sordell was released one-on-one in the area, but no matter how hard Uwe Rosler's side knocked the door remained shut until the late salvo from his inspired substitutes.
Rosler made three changes from the 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, with James McClean, Callum McManaman and Ben Watson coming in to start as Nick Powell missed out with the manager previously declaring him 50-50 for the afternoon.
Referee Michael Bull's whistle sounded and immediately the rain began to pour, three minutes later things got even heavier when Charlton opened the scoring to shock the DW crowd.
Silence spread in the stands as such a simple pass from Addicks' captain Johnnie Jackson found its way through Latics' defence and into the path of Sordell who slipped it under the onrushing Ali Al Habsi.
The rain wasn't the only thing pouring in the first half though, with Latics getting their act together straight after the goal and attacking in waves down the wings, so much so that left back Rhoys Wiggins picked up an injury and was replaced by Harry Lennon, who in turn hurt himself as he caught a stud in the ground as he slid in on McManaman.
McManaman was in one of those electric moods in the first half, all the ground in front of him was eaten up as he raced an dribbled into space, providing dangerous crosses into the box.
Similarly on the left wing Jean Beausejour and James McClean were getting into their groove, but once more the finish didn't arrive.
After McManaman forced Charlton keeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien into a parried save down the right, the visitors then had another excellent chance through new-boy Reza Ghoochannejhad.
First Ghoochannejhad forced Al Habsi into a save from distance, with the Oman international only able to push the ball away and from the following build-up down the right Ghoochannejhad had another go, this time thumping the cross bar.
Charlton chances were rare and Latics possession was heavy, but the best move of the game couldn't even give Uwe Rosler's men a goal.
Another attack down the right saw Beausejour cutting inside and reversing a pass to Chris McCann down the left channel of the area. McManaman waited just behind the penalty spot for McCann's pass but as it arrived his arced effort over the defence bounced back off the cross bar, leaving heads in hands in the stands.
The dominance continued after the break and one minute into the second half pressure from Nicky Maynard soon had the ball in the Charlton net, only for a raised flag to rule an own goal out for offside.
Latics began to throw everything at the Addicks as the shot and corner count rose, but Chris Powell's defiant men remained unscathed.
Before the hour mark Rosler made a couple of changes as he brought on Marc-Antoine Fortune and debutant Josh McEachran.
McEachran's impact was quick, picking up an unnecessary yellow card, but he later played the pass of the game to make up for his mischief as he blocked a quick free kick.
Chance after chance was the theme for Latics in the second half, with Charlton keeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien's goal living a charmed live at times as he punched and pushed the ball clear off his line on a number of occasions.
Around 15 minutes remained when Latics played their Jordi Gomez card, bringing on the Spanish play-maker to devastating effect for a Charlton side who looked to be heading to a 1-0 win.
Gomez along with McEachran dictated the ball and asked Charlton new questions, to which they didn't have an answer for on 88 minutes when Latics finally got their equaliser.
McEachran claimed a crucial assist on his debut, slotting the ball through defenders and into the path of fellow substitute Fortune down the left, he re-positioned his body perfectly to open up and slide the ball into the bottom right corner as the DW Stadium filled with a relieved roar.
Two minutes later a relieved roar certainly wasn't heard, more like euphoric chaos as a moment of brilliance from the maestro Gomez put Latics 2-1 up when he curled a beautiful left footed free kick around the wall, sending supporters and his team mates wild.
Clinching the 2-1 victory late on was well deserved after the dominant display and with the ringing of the final whistle, Latics edged closer to the play-off places.