LATICS 3 PORT VALE 0A Will Grigg hat-trick secured a comfortable win for Latics, against ten man Port Vale at the DW Stadium, on a day that saw new signings Ryan Colclough and Sam Morsy make their first appearances for the club.
Wildschut saw his crossed deflected by Duffy and then off Grigg, before the striker doubled the advantage before half time from the spot, with Ryan McGivern dismissed for the foul. Grigg then wrapped up the points in style with a classy finish 20 minutes from time.
It was a great day all round for Latics, who closed the gap on second placed Gillingham to just two points, after a string of favourable results across Sky Bet League One. It also marks the first time in our history that we’ve scored three goals for four consecutive home games.
Gary Caldwell made two changes from the side which drew away at Crewe last week, with Haris Vuckic and Will Grigg brought in for Michael Jacobs and Jordy Hiwula. Meanwhile, there were places on the bench for new signings Ryan Colclough and Sam Morsy.
Caldwell’s men have been on a fine run of late, and their confidence was apparent from the offset, with the entire side looking composed on the ball in what was a bright start for the hosts.
Latics soon built on their good start by taking the lead on seven minutes, through what looked like an own goal by Richard Duffy, but was actually claimed by Grigg - after Yanic Wildschut made a trademark run down the left hand side and pulled it across the six yard box.
The ball was met by both Duffy and Will Grigg from close range, with both looking like they might have got a touch, before the ball rolled into the back of the net past Alnwick.
Grigg quickly claimed the goal during the celebration to claim his first hat-trick in Latics' colours and the club's first since Jordi Gomez's treble against Reading in the 2012/13 Premier League campaign.
Latics were oozing in confidence, and went close again four minutes later in what was a fine team move, with everyone seeming to get a touch of the ball, before an almighty scramble.
The hosts poured forward through Wildschut on the left, who tried to chip the charging Jak Alnwick. The ball hit the ‘keeper’s chest and fell to Grigg, who couldn’t get the ball under control. It eventually came to Chris McCann on the left, whose cross almost sneaked in at Alnwick’s near post.
Port Vale soon had an effort of themselves however on fifteen minutes on the break, when Jussi Jaaskelainen was forced into a smart save to deny Matthew Kennedy’s close range header.
The visitors’ spark was brief however, and Latics almost doubled their advantage two minutes later, through Wildschut and Grigg again.
The former produced a trademark run on the left hand side and squared it for Grigg, who couldn’t quite keep his first time effort on target.
It was déjà vu for Grigg, who found himself in similar circumstances on the half hour mark, when he met Wabara’s cross from the right, but again couldn’t quite get his effort on target.
It didn’t take long for Grigg to get his second, winning a penalty nine minutes later for Latics, when he was brought down in the area by Ryan McGivern, having been put through by McCann.
Grigg faced up to the superstition that you should never take a penalty that you win one by guiding the ball home well, though it did clip the crossbar before going into the top right hand corner, to put Latics into a comfortable two goal lead at the break.
Latics started the second half as they left off in the first, seeing plenty of the ball in a dominant performance.
The first real chance of the half came ten minutes in through Yanic Wildschut, who was causing yet more trouble down the left flank. The winger cut inside after a bold run yet again, before just fizzing the ball wide of the post from range.
Latics have built up a real taste for brilliant goals from range this season, and almost had another seven minutes later through Max Power, who absolutely blasted it and saw his effort slip agonisingly wide of Alnwick’s post.
The hosts were looking hungry for more goals, and they extended their advantage further on 69 minutes through Will Grigg, who scored yet again with a cool finish after being released by McCann to complete his hat-trick.
Latics were cruising, and Gary Caldwell made use of the contest to introduce new singings Sam Morsy and Ryan Colclough, who both came on for their Latics debuts to a warm reception from the fans.
Both impressed in the time they were given, and it was a particularly impressive debut from Colclough, who really caught the eye with some blistering runs across the front line for his new side.
He came close to capping off his promise with an excellent debut goal 15 minutes from time. The winger cut in from the right hand side, turning his man well, before just fizzing the ball past the far post.
Latics continued to dominate until the close, and Caldwell’s men saw out the game in style to record their third straight home league win.