NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 - 1 LATICS
Latics remained seven points from safety at the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table after goals in each half by Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie earned the home side all there points in a closely fought contest at St James’ Park.
Jacobs gave Latics hope just after the break when he shot home from close range and Latics did have chances to extend the lead before the home side went back in front with an opportunistic header from Ritchie.
It was always going to be a tough challenge away at table-topping Newcastle, but when the team is forced to play the whole second half without a recognised striker, it is even more demanding. Give Graham Barrow’s men their dues, they gave it everything and did have chances to equalise late on, notably through substitute Ryan Colclough, but had to leave the North-East empty-handed.
There were three changes for Latics. Skipper Stephen Warnock was back in place of the injured Andy Kellett, Callum Connolly was in for Craig Morgan and Max Power replaced former Newcastle man Gabriel Obertan. On the bench there was a first inclusion for Jack Byrne.
Latics were a goal down at the break having kept the home side at bay for 36 minutes but without being able to really hurt them at the other end.
They made a decent start and forced Karl Darlow into saving at the feet of Omar Bogle after 14 minutes, after Jake Buxton had headed on Jamie Hanson’s right wing corner and Dan Burn helped it on.
Newcastle gradually worked their way into the contest and Jonjo Shelvey shot low on 25 minutes, Matt Gilks gathering comfortably. Then Gilks had to palm away Gayle’s header from close range after Grant Hanley had headed on Shelvey’s corner on 30 minutes, Jamaal Laschelles heading the resultant corner over.
Then came the goal, on 36 minutes, Mohamed Diame finding space to cross across the face of goal from the right side to the unmarked Gayle at the far post, who tapped it in.
Latics had half a chance right on the stroke of half-time, Darlow scrambling off his line to palm away Bogle’s hooked attempt.
Barrow made two changes at the break, Bogle suffering a muscle injury and being replaced by Colclough and Alex Gilbey coming on for Sam Morsy.
Latics struck back in their first attack. Warnock took a throw on the left side, Gilbey got to it and prodded it through to Jacobs who found a way past Laschelles to work himself into a shooting position and he blasted home.
Burn headed over Jacobs’ free-kick shortly afterwards, then Colclough found space on the left but his shot went agonisingly wide of the far post.
Newcastle regained the lead on 56 minutes when the ball came to Ritchie inside the box, Gilks got a strong palm on the ball but it deflected onto the upright and fell kindly back to Ritchie who headed home with Gilks still on the ground.
Morgan replaced Shaun MacDonald after an hour, Hanson moving into the centre and Connolly pushed out to wing back. Warnock then looked like he had picked up a rib injury but had no option but to soldier on.
Connolly brought out a good save from Darlow when he broke through and shot from the edge of the box in the 67th minute, Burn reaching Hanson’s corner but not able to angle his header goalwards.
Colclough looked lively down the left flank and he shot just over on 77 minutes with a curling effort before Gilks blocked Ritchie's shot with his foot.
Newcastle claimed Ritchie was tripped by Buxton in the box after 83 minutes but nothing was given. The tension rose as we entered stoppage time but the home side held on.
The Latics players went over to applaud the away support, packed up in the gods high up in the stand they had been kicking towards in the second half, but went home empty-handed despite a really valiant effort.