LEEDS 1 LATICS 1Shaun MacDonald’s late goal secured a priceless point for Wigan Athletic, and extended their unbeaten run to four games in a feisty match against Leeds United.
It just didn’t look like it was going to be Latics’ night, after Chris Wood’s first half strike had put the hosts in control, leaving Caldwell’s men frustrated for long periods of the game.
However, Latics drew from their never say die attitude from last season and found a goal in the dying stages of the game to seal another valuable point on the road.
Gary Caldwell made two changes from the side which drew with Burton at the weekend, with Will Grigg and David Perkins returning to the side in place of Adam Le Fondre and Yanic Wildschut.
The game started with a familiar feel to most of Latics’ away trips this season, with the visitors seeing plenty of the ball throughout the contest, but struggling to carve out definitive chances.
It was a competitive start, with both sides eager to move the ball around on the floor, and press their opponents.
Will Grigg was returned to the line-up after starting on the bench on Saturday against Burton, and the frontman looked sharp throughout; pulling off some clever pieces of play despite being pressured heavily for the ball whenever in possession.
Grigg was working well with Nick Powell, and the midfielder had the first attempt of the game on seven minutes, firing wide of Robert Green’s right post with his first time effort.
The game continued to be very even, with neither side having any real chances, and Latics were unfortunate in the fact that Leeds took the lead with one of their first serious attempts of the game on the 29 minute mark.
Chris Wood had tested Adam Bogdan with a low effort six minutes earlier, and had clearly found his clinical touch second time around, producing a brilliant individual effort to put his side ahead. The forward latched on to Hadi Sacko’s cross after clever play by the winger down the right, and showed teriffic presence to turn in the area, before rifling the ball past Bogdan into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
It was a cruel blow for Wigan Athletic, but one which would draw out their most productive period of the game, with Caldwell’s men responding well to the goal.
Their best chance came on the 39 minute mark, when Michael Jacobs struck the post from the 12-yard mark in the area after good play by Grigg. The forward weaved in from the left and teed up Jacobs, who struck the post with his deflected effort.
Latics were growing in confidence, and went close again two minutes later through Powell and then Buxton, who somehow were unable to find the net. Powell met Jacobs’ corner from the right hand side and forced a great save by Green with his header, before Buxton was unable to turn the rebound home, with his header hitting Grigg on the goal line before being cleared.
The ball stayed out, however, and Latics went into the interval level.
Gary Caldwell took action at half-time, and introduced Yanic Wildshut in the place of Michael Jacobs. However, Leeds United emerged for the second half with a more resolute attitude, and were able to frustrate Latics for long periods, despite Caldwell’s men continuing to see plenty of the ball.
The hosts were keeping it tight, and Latics’ best chance in a timid opening 15 minutes was a succession of corners on the right hand side; with Nathan Byrne working hard to create an opening for his side.
Leeds however were looking dangerous when they did venture forward, and Adam Bogdan had to be at his best to deny Luke Aisling on 55 minutes, whose low effort looked to be sneaking into the far corner.
Latics continued to probe, but were lacking a sting in the final third, and Gary Caldwell soon took action; making his final two changes seven minutes later, introducing Jordi Gomez and Craig Morgan in place of Nathan Byrne and Jake Buxton.
The introduction of Gomez ought to have brought a more clinical edge to Latics’ play in the final third, but Leeds continued to hold strong, and almost doubled their advantage 17 minutes from time through Wood, who forced a brilliant save from Bogdan with his looping header.
Latics continued to probe, and looked brighter in the final ten minutes; with Wildschut producing a dangerous piece of play in the final four minutes.
It looked like it wasn’t going to be, but Latics continued to fight, and got their reward in added time through Shaun MacDonald, who found the perfect time to score his first goal for the club.
The equaliser came from a Jordi Gomez corner on the right, with Max Power meeting his deep cross at the far post; Power looped the ball back into the area towards MacDonald, who guided the ball home – via a mistimed Stephen Warnock overhead kick – to pinch a crucial, morale lifting point on the road for his side, and keep their unbeaten run alive.