REPORT: BRIGHTON 1 WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
Uwe Rosler’s Latics march on up the Sky Bet Championship table after a pulsating victory in their first ever visit to the Amex Stadium after goals from James McArthur and Chris McCann earned them a third league victory in succession – and a fourth in all competitions.
That is Latics' eighth victory from the last 11 games in all competitions, and the latest in that precious collection, which was arguably the hardest earned, puts them just a point outside the Play-Off places, with a game in hand.
Albion, who came into the game on the back of three straight home league wins, are a formidable force in their own stadium and Latics had to spend long spells of the game in defensive mode before superbly holding out for the final quarter of an hour after their hosts pulled a goal back.
Latics spent the majority of the opening 20 minutes on the back foot, with Albion having efforts well saved by Ali Al Habsi from Leonardo Ulloa and David Lopez, with Gordon Greer putting a powerful header wide of the upright.
But Latics struck clinically on the break to silence the Amex Stadium, James McArthur intercepting a loose ball from Matthew Upson on the half-way line before driving down the right flank, cutting inside and firing a clinical effort low past the outstretched fingers of Tomasz Kuszczak.
Brighton should have equalised immediately when Dale Stephens beat Al Habsi with a fierce shot but his effort cannoned back off the crossbar to safety and Latics had to withstand prolonged pressure, great interceptions from Emmerson Boyce and Ivan Ramis helping to preserve the lead before the break.
Latics only other effort of note came when James McClean crossed incisively from the left and Martyn Waghorn, on the turn, fired just over.
Rosler made a tactical switch for the second half, McClean coming off in place of James Perch, and the team reverting to three centre-halves in an attempt to stem Brighton’s first half momentum. It paid immediate dividends.
Nicky Maynard almost scored straightaway after terrific work by Perch on the right, but for the leg of Stephen Ward to divert the ball away for a corner with Kuszczak beaten.
But Latics did double their lead after 50 minutes, when full back Bruno put out McArthur’s looping cross for a needless corner. Waghorn’s delivery – as it has been on most occasions since his arrival – was superb and Chris McCann arrived late at the far post to head in past Kuszczak, his second goal in a week.
Brighton came back strongly as expected, with Al Habsi having to scoop a cross from Buckley out for a corner from under his crossbar, then Andrea Orlandi fired into the side netting on the turn.
Jordi Gomez then Roger Espinoza were brought on in place of Josh McEachran and Martyn Waghorn as Albion piled forward again and they finally got their breakthrough with 12 minutes remaining, Ulloa rifling home through a crowded area to set up a tense finale.
Al Habsi was again on hand to deny Brighton when he palmed away Stephen’s shot from the edge of the box, then another good save from Jonathan Obika, who then rifled another effort just wide.
Latics did have chances of their own, the best when Waghorn had pulled the ball back but Maynard just failed to reach it but in the end they just had to baton up the hatches in order to secure a great win.