Crossbar denies Latics deserved equaliser against in-form Rams
- Match report from Wigan Athletic 0 - 1 Derby County.
- Bradley Johnson earns the Rams a fifth consecutive win.
- Max Power twice goes close for Warren Joyce's side.
Bradley Johnson’s first half header was enough to clinch all three points for in-form Derby, though they were pushed all the way by a determined Latics.
We were left with another feeling of what might have been, as Latics very much grew into the game as it went on, and had several opportunities to pull level – particularly in the second half. Max Power was Latics’ brightest spark in the final third, and came closest to pinching a point for his side in the second half; seeing his header hit the crossbar 20 minutes from time.
Warren Joyce made two enforced changes to the side which won at Huddersfield on Monday night, with Reece Burke and Nathan Byrne both missing out through injury, meaning returns to the side for Craig Morgan and Jordi Gomez.
Joyce’s men were visibly confident after Monday night’s win, and made an assured start to the contest, seeing plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges.
Chances were however at a premium in the opening 10 minutes or so, though Derby did give a warning of what was to come on 12 minutes, when Matej Vydra just failed to get on the end of Johnny Russell’s dangerous cross after good defending from Jake Buxton.
The warning wasn’t heeded though, and the visitors took the lead just three minutes later through Bradley Johnson, who looped Tom Ince’s free-kick delivery from deep over Jaaskelainen into the net.
Latics tried to offer an immediate response, and were unlucky not to test Scott Carson in the Derby goal just three minutes later, when Craig Morgan headed Gomez’s corner from the right over the bar.
The visitors were full of confidence though after their goal, and it probably should have been two on 21 minutes, when Johnny Russell saw his effort hit the post. The forward found himself in on goal after a mix-up at the back, and quickly rounded Jaaskelainen, before seeing his strike bobble onto the post from a tight angle.
Max Power was catching the eye throughout the half with his effort and enthusiasm, and went closest to drawing Latics level before the interval, seeing his effort from range saved by Carson just after the half hour mark. Chances also came for Jacobs and Wildschut before half-time, but Derby were able to hold on going into the break.
Whatever Warren Joyce said to his side certainly had the desired effect, as Latics started the second half much brighter than the first, and were unlucky not to equalise within three minutes of the restart after a goalmouth scramble.
The opportunity came courtesy of a corner on the left hand side, after good work by Luke Garbutt in his make-shift role of right back. The ball was met by a cluster of shirts, including Shaun McDonald and Craig Morgan, but nobody was able to get a clear shot away and Derby cleared.
However, things soon petered out until the hour mark, and Joyce was quick to take action; replacing Jordi Gomez with Will Grigg. The atmosphere around the DW Stadium quickly picked up at the introduction of the crowd favourite, and Latics proceeded to have their best period of the game; putting the visitors under plenty of pressure.
The chances started to flow, and Latics almost drew level in the most unlikely of circumstances on 63 minutes, when Garbutt’s cross from the right almost curled all the way into Carson’s net, only to drift just wide.
Derby were trying to ease the pressure with attacks of their own, which meant that Yanic Wildschut’s pace on the break quickly came into play, and the forward almost punished them just four minutes later – forcing a good save from Scott Carson.
The winger burst forward on the break after a Derby County corner, and soon found himself in a crossing position on the left. Will Grigg was lurking in the middle, but Wildschut opted to shoot, forcing Carson into a smart save.
Latics were on the up, and had their best chance of the contest 20 minutes from time, when Max Power saw his close range header hit the crossbar after meeting a cross from the left. The midfielder has a barnstorming game, and was unlucky not to mark his performance with a goal.
The pressure continued to come, and Garbutt was unlucky to see his dangerous cross hacked off the line by Alex Pearce soon after, but that was unfortunately as close as Latics got, and Derby held firm to inflict defeat on Joyce’s men.
Latics: Jaaskelainen, Garbutt, Warnock, Perkins (Le Fondre 82), Buxton, Morgan, Power (Woolery 87), MacDonald, Jacobs, Gomez (Grigg 58), Wildschut.
Subs: Lavercombe, Grigg, Le Fondre, Kellett, Woolery, Powell, Burn.
Derby County: Carson, Keogh, Russell (Weimann 70), Ince, Baird, Johnson, Pearce, Butterfield (Bryson 71), Hughes (Hanson 89), Vydra, Olsson.
Subs: Mitchell, Shackell, Camara, Vernam.