REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 3 YEOVIL 3
An extraordinary final ten minutes saw Latics draw 3-3 with Yeovil Town on a rollercoaster evening at the DW Stadium.
Luke Ayling converted Tom Lawrence’s corner deep into injury time to deny Latics a ninth consecutive win in all competitions.
Nick Powell’s 11th goal of the campaign gave Latics a 55th-minute lead before Ishmael Miller’s double put the Glovers ahead.
However, James McArthur replied four minutes from time before Byron Webster diverted Jean Beausejour’s cross into his own goal in the 88th minute - seemingly earning Latics all three points.
Unfortunately, though, Ayling dealt the cruellest of blows on an evening that saw the visitors fail to muster a shot on target until Miller’s goal in the 82nd minute.
Uwe Rosler continued to shuffle his pack for Latics’ fourth game in ten days with Powell returning to make his first start since January’s 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough.
Callum McManaman and Nicky Maynard returned in place of Martyn Waghorn and Marc-Antoine Fortune with the latter pair dropping to the bench.
Josh McEachran was awarded his first DW Stadium start whilst Beausejour replaced the injured Leon Barnett with skipper Emmerson Boyce moving to centre-back.
Glovers’ boss Gary Johnson made two changes to the Yeovil side that lost at QPR with Joe Ralls and Joel Grant replacing Duane Holmes and James Hayter.
Latics started with real intent and pressed high up the pitch with Powell feeding Maynard into the left-hand channel only for the Cardiff City loanee to see his shot deflected away from goal by Webster in the second minute.
The Glovers’ first chance came through Miller in the tenth minute as the former Manchester City man fired a left-foot shot over from 22 yards.
Latics were presented with the opportunity to open the scoring on 23 minutes as Powell was pulled to the ground by Matteo Lanzoni as the Manchester United loanee tried to reach Gomez’s corner.
However, Gomez, who has been so reliable from the spot of late, saw his take brilliantly saved low down to his left by Stech in the Glovers’ goal.
McManaman, who was lively throughout, saw his low left-footed shot from 20 yards saved by Stech as he cut in from the left to latch onto Beausejour’s fizzed pass on the half hour as Latics pushed for an opener.
Latics’ high-pressing saw Maynard dispossess Ayling before carrying the ball 15 yards and shooting just wide of Stech’s right-hand post from 25 yards.
Yeovil retracted their defence to the edge of their own area as the half wore on and Gomez’s drive fell kindly to Powell who swivelled on the edge of the box before seeing his shot deflected kindly into Stech’s path.
Again, Latics started the half with good movement of the ball with Powell integral as his flicked pass fed Maynard who was well challenged by Shane Duffy as he looked to pull the trigger.
Beausejour, who tormented Lanzoni and Kevin Dawson for the majority of the evening was the next to go close for Latics as McEachran fed a neat ball through to the Chilean winger before he shot narrowly wide from 20 yards on the angle.
Latics continued to dominate the early stages of the second-half as McArthur dispossessed Ayling and carried the ball towards goal before firing a 25-yard drive at Stech.
Two minutes later, Beausejour broke down the left and, after receiving the ball from Gomez, he crossed for Powell whose near post header was claimed at the second attempt by Stech.
The match-winner in the reverse fixture at Huish Park, Marc-Antoine Fortune, was introduced on 55 minutes and just seconds later Latics were ahead.
McManaman, as he did all evening, skinned Glovers skipper Jamie McAllister before cutting back for McArthur whose scuffed shot found Powell who headed in at the back post.
Yeovil had a glorious opportunity to equalise just after the hour mark as Tom Lawrence crossed from the right to find Miller at the back post but the frontman failed to connect when well-placed six yards out.
Gomez forced a save from Stech again as the game entered its final 20 minutes; after Powell was again fouled, the Spaniard whipped a 30-yard free-kick to the Czech’s left and he had to scamper across quickly to hold on.
Stech, who was outstanding in the Glovers’ goal, produced his best save of the night to deny Fortuné after the French striker bundled past three Yeovil defenders and fired a low shot to the former West Ham youth’s left.
Joe Ralls fired high and wide from 25 yards for the Glovers as Gary Johnson’s side tried to force an equaliser which eventually came from Miller’s strike ten minutes from time.
The goal was Yeovil’s first shot on target of the afternoon with the former West Bromwich Albion frontman latching onto a long ball before evading Thomas Rogne’s challenge and firing beyond Al Habsi.
The Glovers were ahead just three minutes later as Miller brought down Lawrence’s cross at the back post and curled beyond Al Habsi with a curling effort.
However, true to Latics’ character in 2014, it took Rosler’s side just two minutes to level the score as Beausejour pulled back for McArthur to side-foot the ball beyond Stech from the edge of the box.
And, in an unbelievable turnaround, Latics won it in the 88th minute as McManaman played in Beausejour down the left and the Chilean’s cross was put beyond his own keeper by Webster at the near post.
Al Habsi, who had rarely been called into action in the opening 80 minutes of the contest, made a good late save to deny Lawrence before the killer blow was dealt from the resulting corner.
Lawrence, who is on loan at Yeovil from Manchester United, swung the ball to the back post and Ayling poked home amongst a sea of bodies.
Latics will look to extend their unbeaten run to ten games when they host Watford on Saturday.