LATICS 3 - 2 ROTHERHAM
Nick Powell was the hero after his amazing free-kick deep into injury time secured a vital three points for Latics, who twice had to come from behind with goals from Gabriel Obertan and Alex Gilbey.
A bizarre altercation between Rotherham keeper Lewis Price and Powell caused play to be brought back all the way from the Latics penalty area and literally, with seconds left of additional time, the forward, who had been virtually ruled out for the season in early January with a hamstring injury but came off the bench in the second half after missing 18 games, stepped up and absolutely hammered the ball home to send the DW Stadium into raptures.
The already relegated visitors deserved credit, they played with freedom and made it very difficult for Graham Barrow’s men, who kept plugging away and – perhaps crucially - equalised very quickly on both occasions Rotherham scored, first through Danny Ward, then, after the break, through Anthony Forde.
The teams went in level at the break after a really open first half in which both sides scored and had chances to score more.
Jakob Haugaard – in as one of three changes to replace Matt Gilks - was almost caught out early on when he took too long to control the ball on his goal line and Ward dispossessed him but shot into the side netting.
Latics failed to heed the warning signs and the visitors took the lead on 28 minutes when Darnell Fisher found space on the right side of the area to fizz the ball across and Ward finished low to Haugaard’s left.
The lead lasted only five minutes as Latics broke neatly through Gilbey, Colclough was able to chest the ball down on the penalty spot, it bounced into the path of Obertan who finished powerfully on the half-volley from ten yards.
Then Latics were hit with a sucker punch on the hour mark, as out of nothing, Forde’s speculative shot squirmed its way through Haugaard’s hands.
The Dane responded with a superb save at full stretch two minutes later to palm away a header from Carlton Morris and it proved to be a crucial save as Latics responded with another great breakaway goal.
Obertan this time was the architect, finding space on the left to deliver a fine ball into the unmarked Gilbey, who took a touch and finished neatly over Price, with 65 minutes on the clock.
Price then made a superb save of his own at full stretch to deny Gilbey a second, again after good work from Obertan, and at the other end, Haugaard made a good instinctive block with his right foot to deny Ward a second goal after 72 minutes.
Powell made his return to the side a minute later, his first game since January 2, as the game entered into the final fifteen minutes. Jack Byrne then came on for his Latics debut in place of Obertan in the 84th minute – the last throw of the dice and almost immediately, Price tipped Powell’s header from a Jamie Hanson free-kick over the bar on 86 minutes. Then Dan Burn managed to get on the end of a Hanson cross in the 89th minute but the effort flew over the bar.
Five minutes’ additional time was called and Latics knew it was now or never…Burn broke away, passed to substitute Morsy, whose shot was blocked, then the follow up was cleared off the line from Fisher, it seemed like it wasn't going to happen.
Then came the drama deep into injury time as Price appeared to haul down Powell and there was an altercation off the ball and they came together, head to head. Both players received a yellow and Latics had a free-kick on the very edge of the Millers box. Last chance saloon, Powell stepped up and absolutely smashed the ball into the roof of the net, one of those moments everyone in the stadium would remember forever.