LATICS 3 CHESTERFIELD 1Two superb first half strikes from Max Power and Reece James, and an elegant dinked finish from Michael Jacobs steered Latics to a comfortable victory over mid-table Chesterfield.
Power’s thunderbolt was the pick of the bunch, as Latics were comfortably in-front at half-time. The visitors rallied to their credit, and pulled one back through Ollie Banks, but Latics held on to close the gap on the automatic promotion places.
The result means that Wigan Athletic stay fifth, but move level on points with Coventry City after picking up seven points from a possible nine at home. Latics are now just four points behind Walsall in second place.
Gary Caldwell made two changes to the side which faced Sheffield United, with Reece James, Jordy Hiwula and new signing Reece Webara coming into the side in place of Leon Barnett, Chris McCann and Will Grigg.
Latics started the contest brightly after the disappointment of Tuesday night, and were on the front foot on the offset, with Webara catching the eye by looking sharp on the right hand side.
Caldwell’s men soon built on their early momentum, and took the lead on seven minutes, through an excellent strike by Max Power.
The midfielder picked up the ball from Jacobs, before hitting it wonderfully past a helpless Tommy Lee into the top right hand corner from 25 yards out.
Latics were soon in control after a wonderful start, and could have doubled their advantage ten minutes later in identical circumstances from Max Power.
The midfielder had really developed a taste for long range efforts after his sensational opening goal, and twice tested the nerves of the visiting defence on two occasions from range, with both taking deflections before the ball was eventually hacked clear.
The visitors soon showed their own attacking capabilities, with Jay O’Shea going close on 21 minutes. The forward picked up the ball from range and forced a good low save from Jaaskelainen. The ‘keeper could only push the ball away, and Craig Morgan was needed to hack the ball clear.
The chances were flowing, and both sides enjoyed good spells on the break, with Vuckic going close 60 seconds later.
The striker received the ball in fortuitous circumstances on the left hand side, after James’ cross took a deflection, but he was unable to pull the trigger after being crowded out in the area.
Chesterfield pushed again on 25 minutes, and produced another chance through Lee Novak, who flashed the ball wide of the left post with his teasing effort from distance.
The visitors were looking dangerous on the counter attack, and forced Jaaskelainen into a good save ten minutes later, after good link-up play between Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Novak.
Ebanks-Blake surged forward and released Novak, who broke into the area and was just denied by the charging Jaaskelainen, who did well to stop his sliding effort.
The visitors were unable to take their chances though, and Latics soon punished them, with a breath-taking two goals in just under two minutes.
The first came from Reece James, who was picked out by a wonderful ball on the right hand side from Reece Webara. The full-back controlled the ball well, before showing incredible ability to reposition himself and guide the ball skilfully into the top left hand corner.
Latics were at it again as everyone was still catching their breath, as Caldwell’s men scored for the second time in just over a minute through Michael Jacobs, who slipped the defence and classily dinked the ball over a helpless Lee to ensure it was a comfortable advantage at the interval.
Tuesday’s result must have been on the minds of both fans and players as the second half resumed, with Latics again finding themselves three goals to the good.
We needn’t have worried however, as Latics put in an assured performance to see out the tie and continue their good run of form.
It was all Latics in a pleasing opening fifteen minutes, with the hosts having three opportunities to extend their lead further.
The first fell to Jacobs on 51 minutes, who forced a good low stop from Lee after breaking free on the left. Latics went close again six minutes later through Power, who was released by the cool-headed Vuckic, before hitting it straight at Lee.
Latics came again through Jacobs, who was clearly enjoying himself. The winger cut in again from the left, nut-megging his man, before hitting the ball straight at the keeper from range.
The visitors were showing some fight however, and pulled a goal back on 79 minutes through Ollie Banks, who reacted well to just fire the ball past an unlucky Jaaskelainen from the edge of the area.
Latics were under pressure after the goal, with the visitors galvanised, and had to dig in to keep the score at 3-1.
Substitute Yanic Wildschut eased the pressure six minutes from time with a brilliant run from box-to-box on the break, which won his side a corner.
It was a fine example of how hard Latics were working to avoid a repeat of Tuesday night, and they closed the game out well to ensure they picked up another three points at home this season.