WIGAN ATHLETIC 0 WOLVES 1Benik Afobe’s first half header was enough to give Wolverhampton Wanderers all three points, despite Latics pushing them all the way.
The result means that Wigan Athletic will now have to wait until Tuesday night, when Rotherham United host Reading, to see if their battle for survival will go down to the last game of the season.
There was a tangible buzz of excitement and belief around the ground coming into the game, as hundreds arrived to the DW Stadium early to greet the players as they made their way to the ground.
Before the game, the club marked the 30th anniversary of the Bradford City disaster by holding a minute’s silence, in memory of the 56 fans who lost their lives in the tragedy.
Latics boss Gary Caldwell made one change to the side which earned a vital three points against Brighton and Hove Albion last week; bringing in Emmerson Boyce in place of Don Cowie.
The belief that Latics’ could still beat the drop was noticeable amongst both players and fans was noticeable from kick-off, with an electric start from the hosts met by an equally lively response from the crowd.
Latics were moving the ball around the pitch well, and created their first serious opportunity of the game after just seven minutes; when James McClean weaved his way through the box and lashed the ball into the side netting.
Gary Caldwell’s men were fighting for every single ball early on, and went close again five minutes later through Jermaine Pennant, who forced a mistake from Jack Price before surging at goal and forcing a good save from Tomasz Kuszczak.
Latics continued to dominate the proceedings, with Kim Bo-Kyung catching the eye with his neat touches inside Wolves’ final third.
The hosts continued to push, but it was Wolves who broke the deadlock after 28 minutes, completely against the run of play.
The visitors earned a free kick on the left hand side, and Benik Afobe was first to the delivery to put his side infront, with their first chance of the contest. It was a highly frustrating moment for Latics, who had dominated up until that point.
Wigan Athletic were visibly rocked by the goal, but continued to put in maximum effort. Their tenacity was almost rewarded five minutes before half time, when Boyce latched onto McClean’s tee-up to curl the ball narrowly over the bar from the edge of the area, but found themselves behind at the interval.
Latics came out for the fighting, and continued to press the opposition, but Wolves had reasons of their own to fight for the points, and frustrated for large parts of the half.
Caldwell’s men did have their moments however, and could have pulled level as early as six minutes into the restart, when Jason Pearce capped off a rare break forward by teeing up McClean from the left, but the forward could only narrowly poke the ball over the bar.
Wolverhampton Wanderers continued to put in a stable performance, and began to take control on the hour mark, forcing Latics to dig in to keep the game alive.
The visitors almost took full advantage after 68 minutes through Dave Edwards, who forced a stunning save from Scott Carson to keep the scores level with his header from a corner.
Latics soon recovered, and began to ask serious questions of the Wolves defence, with substitutes Marc-Antoine Fortune and Billy Mckay leading the charge for an equaliser.
James Perch had the ball in the net fifteen minutes from time, when he poked home after a goalmouth scramble, only for the linesman to flag offside.
Latics continued to push, and had a serious claim for a penalty in the 83rd minute, after there looked to be a handball in the area from a visiting defender, but the referee waved play on.
The hosts kept fighting, but it wasn’t to be their day, and forward James McClean was sent off for a second bookable offence, before the result was confirmed.