LATICS 0 BLACKPOOL 1Tom Aldred’s first half header was enough to see Wigan Athletic slip to defeat against a stubborn Blackpool side, in difficult conditions at the DW Stadium.
Latics had plenty of chances to hit the net themselves, but were frustrated against a resolute visiting defence, which spent long periods of the game with large numbers at the back.
Despite the result, Latics remain in the play-off places but slip to sixth, with Peterborough going above them into fifth.
Gary Caldwell made four changes to the side which lost in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Barnsley last week, with Don Cowie, Craig Davies, Donald Love and Yanic Wildschut all coming into the side in place of Jack Hendry, Michael Jacobs, Alex Revell and Andy Kellett.
As the game commenced, both sides struggled with the conditions early on, as the rain poured down throughout the first half, leaving it difficult to control the ball down the near side of the pitch.
The pouring rain was unable to temper enthusiasm though, with both teams having early opportunities to go in-front.
Blackpool went close in the opening two minutes through their captain David Ferguson, who fizzed the ball over the bar with his effort from the edge of the area.
Latics responded by making good use of the slippery conditions early on, with Will Grigg almost forcing a mistake from goalkeeper Dean Lyness in the fourth minute with his low cross – the ‘keeper looking like he’d spilled the ball before recovering to collect.
Blackpool were looking more productive in-front of goal though, and forced a good save from Jussi Jaaskelainen in the sixteenth minute, when Mark Cullen slipped the offside trap and attempted to guide the ball home from close range.
Latics responded again by seeing plenty of the ball, but the hosts were struggling to put together a definitive move in-front of goal, despite controlling possession.
That first opportunity eventually came in the 33rd minute after good work from Don Cowie, who capitalised on a good move forward to pick the ball up in the penalty area. He showed a good eye to turn, but he couldn’t quick pick out Will Grigg with his probing ball forward.
The visitors continued to look threatening though, and took the lead three minutes later through Tom Aldred, who rose best to meet a corner from the right hand side and guided the ball home with his header.
The goal was a sucker punch, but Latics responded well to falling behind, with Will Grigg seeing his effort from the edge of the area deflected wide five minutes from the interval.
This was followed up from David Perkins, who drove the ball from range into a crowded penalty area, and was unlucky not to find anyone with his low ball.
Max Power also went close three minutes before the interval, looping his free kick 30 yards out on the left hand side over Lyness’ crossbar, but Latics went into the interval trailing.
The second half continued in a similar vein, as Latics saw plenty of the ball, but struggled to make a serious impact in front of goal.
This was signified four minutes into the second half, when Reece James did well to swing in a cross from the left, but there was nobody in the middle to meet the ball.
Substitute Donervon Daniels provided the first definitive chance for his side nine minutes in, when he headed wide from a corner on the right hand side.
Blackpool were defending in numbers, and were succeeding in frustrating Latics, by restricting them to long range efforts.
Those long range efforts were teasing though, and the blues went close twice on the hour mark. The first shot came from Donald Love, who drove the ball from the right hand side – which forced Dean Lyness into a save.
Latics built on that sixty seconds later by working the ball to Max Power, who pinged the ball over the bar from the edge of the area with his powerful effort.
Caldwell’s men continued to dominate, but again were restricted to long range efforts eight minutes later, with Donald Love swerving the ball wide from the edge of the area.
Latics pushed again, and created their best chance of the game two minutes later, with substitute Michael Jacobs causing a goalmouth scramble.
The winger drilled a low ball in from the right that was met by Grigg and Power, but neither could get an effort in at goal. The ball was only partially cleared though, and fell to Reece James, who was denied by an excellent sliding tackle by Clark Robertson before he could shoot eight yards out.
The momentum was flowing, and Latics went close again on 74 minutes form Will Grigg, who forced a brilliant save from Dean Lyness.
The striker met a low cross in from the right by Max Power and controlled the ball well, before forcing an excellent save from the ‘keeper with his direct effort.
Latics were looking brighter, but Caldwell’s men were struggling to find that crucial equaliser.
The goal almost came three minutes from time through Michael Jacobs, who unleashed a big effort at goal from the edge of the area, but Lyness got down well to save the strike – which looked to be sneaking in.
Wigan Athletic pushed until the end, but Blackpool held firm to take all three points back to the seaside.