REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 SHEFF WED 0
Jordi Gomez’s 88th minute penalty ensured Latics made it seven consecutive wins in all competitions for the first time in nine years with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the DW Stadium.
The Spaniard bagged his ninth goal of the campaign with a cool spot-kick to send Latics back to seventh place in the Sky Bet Championship and just outside the play-off places on goal difference.
James Perch won the penalty after he was felled by Caolan Lavery on the right-hand side of the area on an evening when Latics were dominant in both possession and efforts on goal.
Uwe Rosler made seven changes from Sunday’s win over Manchester City with the cup-tied Martyn Waghorn returning and Ryan Tunnicliffe coming in for his home debut.
James McClean and Leon Barnett both came on as substitutes at the Etihad Stadium and Rosler included the pair from the off with Nicky Maynard leading the line.
The injured Chris McCann was replaced by Jean Beausejour and Ali Al Habsi returned in goal in place of Scott Carson.
Tunnicliffe forced an early corner as Latics exploited the Owls’ highline but, after Waghorn’s initial corner was put behind by the Wednesday’s defence, McClean headed the second delivery over at the near post.
Latics’ first clear opportunity came when Beausejour broke down the left hand side and crossed for Maynard with Owls keeper Damian Martinez stranded, though the ball bounced awkwardly for the Cardiff loanee and by the time the ball fell for Waghorn the Argentinian stopper had recovered to save low to his right.
McClean was the next to go close minutes later; again he exploited the high line and space in behind Wednesday right-back Lewis Buxton before flashing across goal and narrowly wide of the far post.
Liam Palmer fired over from 25 yards after Jeremy Helan made a weaving run from left-back as the visitors were restricted to long range efforts in their search for an opener.
Latics struggled to build on a positive start and found it difficult to move the ball at pace, though, to their credit, the hosts rarely looked troubled defensively with Jacques Maghoma firing high and wide from the corner of the box as the half hour approached.
Despite being restricted to limited spells of possession, the Owls were presented with a golden opportunity to go in front ten minutes before the break as Maghoma latched onto Helan’s through ball and took the ball round Al Habsi on the bounce with the Oman international pulling the winger to the ground leaving referee Andy Haines with no choice but to point to the spot.
However, the 32-year-old stopper produced an excellent save springing to his right to deny Leon Best’s right-footed take.
Al Habsi’s save proved the instigator for the game to open up and Latics increased their tempo with Tunnicliffe stinging Martinez’s hands with a 20-yard drive before Boyce forced another save from the Argentinian from the resulting corner.
Again, the intent from Latics was evident at the beginning of the second-half as Beausejour broke inside from the left before feeding Waghorn who fired over, on the half-volley, from 25 yards.
And, though Latics had seen more of the ball, Rosler felt impetus was required and introduced Nick Powell and Callum McManaman on 53 minutes.
It was McClean, though, who was next to go close as Beausejour fed a fine through ball in between the lines and the Irish winger was denied at the near post by a good low parry from Martinez.
Latics pressed high and continued to try and force the issue as McManaman’s corner was almost bundled over the line by a combination of Barnett and Boyce, though the visitors managed to clear.
A succession of Latics corners were concluded by Powell’s low drive almost finding substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune, though the Frenchman couldn’t get the ball under control with his first touch of the evening.
Two substitutes combined to create what looked to be the perfect opportunity to gain the lead as Fortune slipped in McManaman down the right but the young winger, one-on-one with Martinez fired wide of the far post.
Jordi Gomez continued the push for an opener as he broke at the Owls defence before stabbing a shot wide of Martinez’s left-hand post.
Latics had to be wary at the other end as Liam Palmer was played in by substitute Atdhe Nuhiu but the central midfielder smashed into the side netting from ten yards.
Powell fired over from 25 yards as the domination continued to present opportunities but it wasn’t until Perch was felled by Lavery that Martinez was beaten.
Gomez, like at Manchester City on Sunday, was given the responsibility from the spot and the Spaniard made no mistake curling into Martinez’s top right-hand corner.
Fortune fired a low effort wide in injury-time, though Latics managed to hold out to record the double of the Owls as the DW Stadium rejoiced in a chorus of ‘Uwe, Uwe Rosler!’