GOMEZ NETS LATE WINNER AT CARDIFFJordi Gomez was the hero for managerless Latics as they withstood long spells of aerial bombardment from the home side to record a battling first away win of the season at Cardiff City.
Gomez slid home David Perkins cross at the far post to stun the Cardiff City Stadium into silence and it was no more than battling Latics deserved. They dominated for large spells of the game but were not able to find a way through until the late show from Gomez.
The sight of assistant Manager Graham Barrow, Joe Parkinson and Peter Atherton directing affairs in the touchline was an unfamiliar one of course, but there was no doubt that the players gave everything against opponents freshly revived under Neil Warnock and whose no-nonsense approach puts teams under immense pressure.
There were two changes from the home match versus Brighton & Hove Albion, with Nick Powell and Max Power missing out through injury and suspension respectively, their places taken by Yanic Wildschut and Jordi Gomez.
Although Latics did the early running, Cardiff had the first real effort on goal, Anthony Pilkington forcing Adam Bogdan into a save direct from a Peter Wittingham corner after seven minutes. Pilkington forced Bogdan into another good instinctive save three minutes later after wriggling free in the box before Reece Burke had to head off the line after a scramble from the resultant corner.
Latics had to wait until the 35th minute for their first real effort on target, Wildschut weaving a way through inside the box but he was closed down before being able to apply any power on his shot.
Sean Morrison placed a late header wide from a Wittingham free-kick swung in from the right hand side.
Latics almost opened the scoring with just three minutes played of the second half, Grigg’s shot deflected just wide by Sean Morrison before Jake Buxton headed narrowly over from the resultant corner.
Cardiff enjoyed a spell of dominance when they went close with a Bamba header from dangerous Wittingham free-kick. Aron Gunnarsson then was allowed to shoot from the edge of the box, Bogdan, palming away a rasping drive.
Nathan Byrne replaced Wildschut after 56 minutes, and he did well to set up Reece Burke on the right hand side after 64 minutes, the cross fizzing inches from Grigg’s boot at the near post.
Latics were probably enjoying their best spell of the game, keeping possession to push back into their own half, although that combination again of Bamba and Wittingham did create another header wide from a corner on 69 minutes after former Skelmersdale United winger Craig Noone had broken way.
Grigg made way for Craig Davies after 73 minutes as Latics continued to dominate, but still no way through.
Shaun MacDonald made a rare inroad into the opposition box to fire an angled drive which Ben Amos smothered at his near post after 80 minutes and the breakthrough finally came through with just four minutes left on the clock.
Substitute Davies broke down the left, he found Perkins, who put in a wonderful cross which Gomez slid in at the far post to poke home and send the travelling Latics fans into ecstasy!
The home side predictably threw everything forwards as five minutes of additional time was called and Latics had to withstand more pressure, with Bamba going close after rounding Bogdan with just one minute of injury time remaining.
Kyle Knoyle enjoyed the briefest of debuts for Latics seconds later when he replaced Jacobs in the 95th minute but the referee inexplicably played on for SEVEN extra minutes, Stephen Warnock having to clear Joe Bennett’s shot off the line.
But in the end, every single player and staff went to salute the supporters on an emotional day for the club.