REPORT: LATICS 2 FLEETWOOD TOWN 1A goal from Latics supporter Jordan Flores on his first league start, and an early second half effort from Michael Jacobs ensured Wigan Athletic continued their bright start at home with a win over Fleetwood Town.
The visitors ensured it would be a nervy ending after pulling one back through Tyler Hornby-Forbes, but Latics held on for a win that moved them up into seventh in the table.
Latics manager Gary Caldwell made three changes to the side from the Port Vale match, with Jordan Flores coming into the side for his first league start for the injured Haris Vuckic. Power also returned in place of Leon Barnett, whilst injuries to Will Grigg and Craig Davies meant loan signing Jordy Hiwula was handed his first start for the club.
Caldwell’s men were defending an unbeaten start to their campaign at home in the league, and started an open contest brightly, with early efforts from Flores and Max Power testing Chris Maxwell in the visiting goal.
Flores was enjoying his first league start, and dinked a brilliant ball through to Jordy Hiwula from the half way line on thirteen minutes, only for the forward to slip when turning away from the charging Maxwell.
Latics were looking the brighter of the two, and almost went in front on the fifteen minute mark through vice-captain Jason Pearce, who latched on to Reece James’ corner from the right to shoot wide with a first time effort at the near post.
Fans were appealing for a penalty just five minutes later, after what looked like a certain handball in the Fleetwood Town area, only for the referee to wave play on.
Attention soon switched away from the field however, as all four sections of the ground rose to their feet for a minute’s applause in honour of Juan Carlos Garcia, who continues his battle against Leukaemia.
Latics continued to have the better of the play, and Hiwula could have put his side in front on two occasions at around the half hour mark.
The first came in the 28th minute, when Reece James latched on to an excellent flick from Michael Jacobs and swung the ball in to Hiwula – who couldn’t quite get the ball from out of his feet.
Hiwula was in again two minutes later, when he was found by Jonjoe Kenny on the right, only to fire narrowly wide of Maxwell’s goal.
Play continued to be open, but Wigan Athletic made the breakthrough six minutes before the interval with a dream moment for lifelong Latics fan Jordan Flores, who scored his first goal for the club on his first start.
Michael Jacobs broke down the right hand side and played the ball across the area at the second time of asking; the ball was cleared only as far as Flores, who slammed the ball home with an excellent left footed volley on the right side to put his team into the lead.
It was a dream moment for the season ticket holder, and one that wasn’t wasted by the Latics fans, who proceeded to sing ‘he’s one of our own’ in salute of the local lad.
Latics had just shaded the contest in the run up to the goal, and it almost got better just before the interval through Max Power, who curled the ball just wide of the far right hand post with an ambitious effort from a free-kick around 30 yards out.
Latics’ habit of firing out of the traps in the second half showed once again, and Caldwell’s men doubled their lead inside the first minute of the restart, when Reece James centred it from the left to Jacobs, who slotted the ball home from close range.
Caldwell’s men looked to be firmly in control, and had the better of the fifteen minutes after the goal, but the visitors pulled one back on the hour mark to turn the game on its head.
Fleetwood won a free-kick on the edge of the area in a central position, which was taken by captain Antoni Sarcevic. His effort took a deflection, allowing the ball to fall into the path of Tyler Hornby-Forbes, who poked the ball home from close range.
The visitors were rejuvenated by the goal, and started to put Latics under pressure. This prompted change from Gary Caldwell, who soon switched to a back four for extra stability.
Fleetwood were looking menacing, and went close twenty minutes from time through Jamie Proctor, who headed over the bar after latching on to a teasing cross from the right hand side.
Latics were looking nervous at the back in the closing stages, but almost bagged a goal on the break three minutes from time, when substitute Sanmi Odelusi latched on to a long clearance from David Perkins and broke free, only to be muscled out before he could manage a finish when in on goal.
The nerves were tested further when the officials added six minutes of injury time to the contest, forcing Latics to dig in again in the closing stages.
Fleetwood continued to press, and were almost rewarded in the dying seconds, when Proctor got on to the ball after a scramble in the area, only to slam the ball against the outside of the right hand post.
Latics held firm however, to record a third successive home league win.