Latics lose to leaders Newcastle with goals from Mohamed Diame and Christian Atsu either side of half-time.
- Latics lose to Newcastle United in the Sky Bet Championship.
- Substitute Andy Kellett came closest for Latics, on his first appearance since March.
- Spirited performance from Latics, particularly in the second half, but Rafa Benitez’s men too strong.
Goals from Christian Atsu and Latics old boy Mohamed Diame sealed victory for Newcastle United, though they were made to work for it by a resilient Latics.
Rafa Benitez’s men went into the interval with a one goal lead courtesy of Diame’s solo effort on his return to the DW Stadium.
Latics responded with a resilient second half performance, which saw both Will Grigg and substitute Andy Kellett go close, but Christian Atsu’s goal 12 minutes from time sealed the points for the visitors.
Warren Joyce made just the one change to the side which had its heart broken at Villa Park on Saturday, with striker Grigg making his first start under the new manager in place of the injured Reece Burke.
Newcastle United came into this game knowing that a win would take them back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship, and Rafa Benitez’s side took very little time to show why they are one of the best sides in the division, and dominated from the offset.
The visitors were seeing plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges, particularly in Latics’ third of the pitch, and took just nine minutes to have the first real opportunity of the game when Diame, returning to his former club for the first time, forced a great save from Jussi Jaaskelainen with his long range effort.
Latics were trying to fight back themselves, with Luke Garbutt, Yanic Wildschut and Max Power all showing great determination against the high-pressing visitors, and it almost paid dividends on 18 minutes when Grigg and Michael Jacobs just failed to get on the end of Wildschut’s dangerous cross from the right.
Matt Richie’s went close on 23 minutes but that was followed up just three minutes later by the opening goal, courtesy of old boy Diame. The midfielder showed all of his class to burst forward from the halfway line, before coolly slotting the ball past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Latics looked far from daunted after the goal though, and tried to conjure up an immediate response, creating perhaps their best chance of the entire half just four minutes later, when Karl Darlow was forced to nervously palm away David Perkins’ cross from the right, when both Grigg and Jacobs were lurking at the far post.
Newcastle had a chance to double their advantage before the break, with Jonjo Shelvey’s low effort from the edge of the area just fizzing wide of Jaaskelainen’s left post. The visitors tried again with a corner through Ciaran Clark at the far post, but Latics held on to ensure it was just one at half time.
Wigan Athletic made a habit of starting the second half brightly in their League One winning campaign, and Warren Joyce’s men summoned that spirit to make a much stronger start after the interval, and matched the visitors for long periods of the game.
Latics saw plenty of the ball, and that tactic soon paid dividends, as they carved out their first real opportunity of the half after just five minutes, when Shaun MacDonald narrowly headed Max Power’s corner from the right over the bar.
The bright spell continued, and Latics went close again on 58 minutes, again from a corner on the right, when Will Grigg met the delivery and headed just wide of Darlow’s right post.
Newcastle tried to tighten things up, but Latics would not be deterred, though, and carved out their best chance yet on 66 minutes through substitute Andy Kellett, who was making his first appearance since the 3-3 draw at Colchester United in March.
The move started through Stephen Warnock, who belied his age to get on the end of MacDonald’s through ball down the left flank. The defender promptly whipped in a dangerous ball, and Kellett forced a tremendous close range save from Darlow after latching on to the cross at the far post.
The visitors made the game safe 12 minutes from time through substitute Christian Atsu, who latched on to Yoan Gouffran’s cross on the left hand side after a quick break and coolly slotted the ball past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Latics fought right until the end against the league leaders, and almost reduced arrears two minutes from time when Craig Davies fired narrowly wide after good work from Will Grigg, but Newcastle closed the game out impressively to inflict defeat on Warren Joyce’s men.
Latics: Jaaskelainen, Garbutt (Kellett 20), Morgan (Burn 68), Buxton, Warnock, Power, Perkins, MacDonald (Davies 80), Jacobs, Wildschut, Grigg.
Subs: Lavercombe, Byrne, Gomez, Le Fondre.
Newcastle: Darlow, Clark, Dummett, Lascelles, Anita, Gayle (Perez 82), Ritchie (Atsu 69), Shelvey, Hayden, Diame, Gouffran.
Subs: Sels, Lazaar, Mbemba, Yedlin, Mitrovic.