LATICS 3 BLACKBURN 0First half strikes from Will Grigg and Nick Powell, and a second half own goal provided Latics with a commanding win over a Blackburn, and welcomed back Championship football to the DW Stadium in style.
It was the perfect first half for Latics, with Will Grigg’s improvised header and Nick Powell’s beautiful free-kick putting Caldwell’s men firmly in the driving seat.
Blackburn came out fighting early in the second half, but Shane Duffy’s own goal made things comfortable, and ensured the perfect result on our home return to the second tier.
Gary Caldwell made just one change from the side which lost at Oldham Athletic on Tuesday night, with Nick Powell coming into the side in place of the suspended Jake Buxton. It meant that both Powell and Stephen Warnock made their “second” home debuts, since joining the club permanently in the summer.
Meanwhile, there were full home debuts for new signings Adam Bogdan, Dan Burn, Alex Gilbey and academy graduate Luke Burke.
Latics were straight onto the front foot from the offset, looking lively inside the first two minutes through Nick Powell – who broke down the right hand side and almost picked out David Perkins with his cross.
It was a sign of things to come, with Powell, Alex Gilbey and Yanic Wildschut all causing plenty of problems for the visitors in the opening ten minutes.
Gilbey had the first real chance of the game on three minutes, when he came agonisingly close to putting his side in front, after great work from Wildschut.
The winger showed great reactions to pick the pocket of Duffy and released Gilbey on the effort, who fired just wide of Steele’s goal.
Latics continued to put pressure on the visitors, and got their reward on 14 minutes through Will Grigg, who once again drew a lot of attention on social media in the aftermath of his goal.
The goal came through a screwed shot from Max Power, onto which Grigg showed great improvisation to get on the end of, before looping his header over Steele and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
“Will Grigg’s on fire” soon rang around the DW Stadium, and built a momentum from which Latics didn’t come down from.
Blackburn Rovers showed some fight after the goal, digging in for around ten minutes afterwards, but Latics continued to press, and could have made it 2-0 on 26 minutes through Wilschut, who cannoned the ball against the bar.
The winger had the goal at his mercy after latching on to the rebound from Gilbey’s well saved effort, but blasted the ball against the woodwork from close range.
The visitors continued to try and build their way back into the contest, but they gave away a dangerous free-kick just after the half hour mark, and were duly punished by a ruthless Latics.
Nick Powell lined up the free-kick on the left hand edge of the area, and produced a beautiful finish to loop the ball over the wall, and curl it into the top left hand corner.
Latics were flying, and the red-hot Grigg almost bagged a third three minutes before the interval, when he guided his low effort from a narrow angle just wide of Steele’s far post.
It wasn’t three at the interval, but in all other aspects of the term, it was the perfect half from Wigan Athletic.
Latics started the second half rather slowly, and had to dig in to prevent a rejuvenated Blackburn side early on.
Whatever Owen Coyle had said to his side had worked, and Rovers almost pulled a goal back ten minutes into the second half, when they joined Latics in crashing the ball against the woodwork.
Midfielder Jack Byrne tried his luck from around 25 yards out, and was unlucky to see his effort clip the bar on its way over.
Latics were having to dig in, and Gary Caldwell took action, bringing on Michael Jacobs on the hour mark in place of Nick Powell.
The move worked, and Latics added a third just two minutes later through an own goal, with Jacobs playing a big part in the goal.
Max Power swung in a ball from the right hand side, which was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Shane Duffy, but was aided in doing so by the enterprising Jacobs.
The goal was a big moment for Latics and knocked the stuffing out of what had looked like a promising Blackburn rejuvenation.
Caldwell’s men were suddenly comfortable, and it allowed the gaffer to make a couple of changes, with Tim Chow introduced in place of Luke Burke – who was given a standing ovation by the Latics fans after making his home debut.
There was also a standing ovation for Will Grigg, who was withdrawn eight minutes of time in place of Craig Davies, who was given his first piece of action of the season.
Wigan Athletic closed out the game in style, to provide the perfect return of Championship football to the DW Stadium.