REPORT: IPSWICH 1 WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
The Uwe Rosler revolution roars on relentlessly up the Sky Bet Championship table as two goals from James McClean and a Leon Barnett header secured Latics’ six consecutive victory in the league and the eighth in all competitions.
The win takes Latics into fifth place in the table following another emphatic performance at the home of a play-off rival, with games in hand over teams around them and two home games in a row to come over the next week, things are really starting to look encouraging.
Latics were forced to come from behind to notch up another three hard earned league points, and were made to withstand a good deal of pressure in the second half as Ipswich peppered a succession of dangerous balls into the box.
But McClean’s second with a quarter of an hour gone made the three points secure and although Town continued their aerial bombardment, it was Latics who closed out the game strongest and looked the more threatening on the break.
Ipswich went ahead in the first half when a free-kick was awarded on the edge of the box when James McArthur was judged to have fouled Paul Anderson.
Aaron Cresswell drove straight into the wall but as Latics played head tennis in trying to clear the danger, it fell kindly for Tommy Smith, who hooked it in from 10 yards past Ali Al Habsi.
Latics were level almost immediately, the first time they seriously threatened the Ipswich goal.
Emmerson Boyce drove a superb ball down the right hand channel which Marc Antoine Fortune did well to reach on the goal line.
The pull-back was perfect for McClean, who evaded his marker to smash home emphatically from near the penalty spot – with his right foot too! – for his first league goal in Latics colours; or the first one that will stand after his goal in the abandoned game at Sheffield Wednesday.
Latics scored again after 40 minutes from a great set-piece goal.
McClean was hacked down by Cole Skuse 30 yards out, to the left of the area and it proved to be an expensive error.
Jordi Gomez angled in a typically lethal ball that swerved into the area and deceived everyone except Leon Barnett who stooped to head an unstoppable effort past Gerken from six yards – that didn’t go down well round these parts with Barnett being a former Norwich City player.
The closest Ipswich came to adding to their tally before the break had come when they took advantage of an injury to Ivan Ramis to drive into the Latics area, but with the Spaniard lying prone on the grass, Barnett’s brave block at the feet of Anderson saved the day.
Ipswich predictably came roaring out of the traps in the second half and Latics were pegged back but should have done better when a three versus one break came to nothing, Martyn Waghorn feeding McArthur, then Fortune’s effort was smothered excellently by Town skipper Luke Chambers. Definitely a wasted opportunity.
Nick Powell was introduced on 63 minutes in place of Waghorn, a straight swap with Powell slottin in on the right hand side. The Gomez-Barnett double act was almost repeated on 72 minutes when another dangerous free-kick was delivered into the box from the left and Barnett just failed to make a connection at the far post.
But Gomez did produce another stunning through ball on 76 minutes when he released Fortune down the right hand channel on the break and the same two players combined as for Latics’ opener.
The Frenchman’s low cross was absolutely perfect, deceiving everyone apart from McClean at the far post who finished powerfully. Fantastic moment for the Irishman, instantly doubling his league tally for the club.
Fellow goalscorer Barnett had earlier been forced to limp off and his replacement, Rob Kiernan, produced a great block to deny Paul Green’s goalbound effort. Ipswich continued to press and Rosler decided to tighten things up by replacing double goalscorer McClean with Stephen Crainey on 82 minutes, James Perch, switching to right back.
It was the Latics fans who could be heard long after the final whistle saluting the players after another fantastic win.