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DEVELOPMENT REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 2 WALSALL 1

9 February 2016

Robles on the double as McNaughton returns to action.

  • Latics back to winning ways with 2-1 victory over Walsall.
  • Louis Robles on target twice in the first half.
  • Kevin McNaughton completed 60 minutes on his return from injury.

WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
Robles 13, 26

WALSALL 1
Lalkovic 39

After a tough run of results, including a 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture, Latics bounced back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Walsall in a downpour at Christopher Park, thanks to a Louis Robles double in the opening half an hour.

Milan Lalkovic pulled a goal back for the visitors, but Latics continued to look dangerous throughout, with Robles and am Cosgrove combining well with midfielders Danny O'Brien and Jordan Flores.

Alongside the three points came more good news, with Kevin McNaughton returning to the pitch following a long-term injury suffered away at Gillingham back in August.  The defender completed 60 minutes, with fellow first team squad members Tim Chow, Jack Hendry, Lee Nicholls and Flores also involved.

Walsall provided the first glimmer of a goal, giving Latics a scare inside the fifth minute when Jordan Cook was allowed space to shoot on the edge of the area, his right footed effort bouncing off the base of Nicholls' left post.

Three minutes later Latics' alertness almost paid off, with Cosgrove capitalising on a loose pass, before cutting the ball back for O'Brien who scuffed his effort wide of the right post.

O'Brien was involved again moments later though, this time turning provider when he met Flores' superbly weighted pass out wide.  The winger whipped in a right footed cross towards Robles inside the area, who took no time in side footing a first time effort back across the goalkeeper for 1-0.

Robles doubled the lead in the 26th minute, this time Cosgrove claiming the assist.  Another cross from the right was met by Robles, who took his goal superbly to notch his 13th in just 12 starts.

Flores continued to spread the ball into crossing positions, again finding O'Brien with a fizzing pass, but this time the cross from the winger was just too long for Cosgrove in the area.

Walsall gathered a spell of momentum towards the end of the half, with Nicholls forced to turn Bryn Morris' close range effort wide of his right post, before Lalkovic had too much for the keeper to deny.

The Walsall first teamer struck from distance down the left side, giving Latics something to think about heading into the break with the score at 2-1.

It could have been 3-1 though, when the returning McNaughton's cross from wide right floated towards the top left corner, only to be denied by Liam Roberts' tipped save.

Latics continued to create chances throughout the second half with substitute Arnie Baxendale, who replaced McNaughton on the hour, combining with Cosgrove and Robles down the right side, before the latter's hat-trick opportunity was denied by a strong chested save from Roberts in the Walsall goal.

Flores stung the gloves of Roberts with a speculative effort from the edge of the area, before Robles and Cosgrove combined again, only for Roberts to stick out a big left foot to deny Cosgrove.

O'Brien then stole in behind with a chance for 3-1, but Roberts stood firm once more with another left footed save, before denying Cosgrove for the second time in a five minute spell.

It could have been more for Latics, but with Roberts' second half saves they were left to settle for a well-earned 2-1 win.

Latics: Nicholls, McNaughton (Baxendale 60), Lingard, Chow, Hendry (Burke 84), Anson, Flores (Gregory 81), O'Brien, Cosgrove, Robles, Hamilton (Barrigan 69)
Unused sub: Evans

Walsall: Roberts, Kinsella, Plummer, B.Morris, Preston, K.Rowley, K.Morris, Flanagan, Cook, Wakefield, Lalkovic


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