LATICS 2 WOLVES 1Substitute Will Grigg’s goal two minutes from time provided Latics with a vital win against Wolves, in a tight encounter at the DW Stadium.
It looked set to be another night of wondering what could have been for Latics, after being frustrated for long periods by the visitors, but Caldwell’s men stuck to their philosophy, and Grigg popped up with just two minutes to go to provide a much needed three points for his side.
Latics had taken an early lead through Adam Le Fondre, who rewarded his manager’s decision to start him over Grigg by scoring his first goal for the club, but Wolves struck back through Prince Oniangue, and a winner looked unlikely for much of the game.
Latics stuck to their guns though, and got their reward with just two minutes left, to seal a result which lifts them off bottom, and out of the bottom three.
Gary Caldwell made two changes to the side which lost at Preston on Friday, with Will Grigg and Michael Jacobs dropping to the bench in place of David Perkins, who returned from injury, and Adam Le Fondre – who made his first start for the club since joining in the summer.
Caldwell’s men needed a response after Friday’s frustrating defeat at Preston, and it didn’t take long for Latics to do exactly that, when Adam Le Fondre put his side in front with a goal on his first start for the club on six minutes.
David Perkins started the move from his improvised right-back role and fed Max Power, who broke forward and found Le Fondre in the middle of the area from the right.
The striker took no time in making the most of the opportunity given to him by his manager, and controlled the ball well, before slotting the ball into the bottom left hand corner of Carl Ikeme’s net.
It was the perfect start, but the visitors were in no mood for defeat, and took little time to grow into the contest themselves – looking a constant threat throughout the game, particularly on the break.
Walter Zenga’s side showed this as early as the 13th minute, when Adam Bogdan had to hold firm after a goalmouth scramble.
Joao Teixeira swung the ball in from a free-kick on the left, which was flicked on by Danny Batth. It fell into a dangerous area, with Romain Saiss and Ivan Cavaliero both swarming towards the goal, but the charging Bogdan was the first to it, and did well to hold on.
Latics were having to dig in, and Dan Burn was looking particularly strong at the back for his side, making several big challenges to break down the visitors’ moves forward.
Wolves were causing trouble, and broke again on 22 minutes through Helder Costa, who flashed the ball just over the bar from the edge of the area.
Latics were showing nice pieces of play, with Jordi Gomez and Shaun MacDonald in particular catching the eye with their composure, but Burn had to come to the rescue again on the half-hour mark; providing a goal saving tackle to prevent Costa from shooting in a dangerous position.
The visitors continued to threaten, and got their reward four minutes later through Prince Oniangue, who guided the ball into the bottom right hand corner from the edge of the area, after good work from Ivan Cavaliero to tee him up.
Latics were very much restricted to half chances since their goal on six minutes, but did threaten just before the interval through Yanic Wildschut, who dragged the ball wide from the edge of the area after being teed up by Jordi Gomez.
The game was starting to look like a mirror image of Friday night’s game at Preston as the interval came, with Latics seeing lots of the ball, but struggling to break their opponents down.
The second half started in a similar vein, with Latics enjoying plenty of possession, but struggling to find an opener.
Caldwell’s men were restricted to half chances early on, but did go close seven minutes in through Jordi Gomez, who headed wide after meeting Warnock’s cross from the left.
The visitors were looking more dangerous, though, and the troublesome Danny Batth saw his header cleared off the line three minutes later, after meeting a corner at the back post.
It was a vital clearance, with Adam Bogdan beaten by the effort.
The game soon settled down, and although Latics were seeing plenty of the ball, they were struggling to carve out any serious chances.
Gary Caldwell took action on 66 minutes, introducing Nick Powell and Will Grigg in place of Le Fondre and Gomez.
The introduction of Grigg lifted the mood both on the pitch and off, but despite the presence of the frontman, it continued to be a similar tale, even when Michael Jacobs was introduced with eight minutes to go.
Lots of the ball, but little to show for it.
Despite this pattern though, there was still a feeling that there would be one big chance left for either side in the closing minutes.
Thankfully, that came for Latics, who stuck to their philosophy and finally found the breakthrough with just two minutes left through a familiar source – triggering yet another rendition of everyone’s favourite chant.
Grigg showed great tenacity to chase down a hopeful ball forward, and his enterprising move paid dividends, as he won the ball, before coolly rounding Ikeme and showing excellent composure to put his side in front.
There was to be no cruel twist this week, and Latics held firm to seal a crucial three points, which hopefully signals the beginning of an upturn in results.