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Match Reports


14 January 2017

Dream debut for double goalscorer Callum Connolly as Latics win superbly at The Pirelli Stadium

  • Wigan Athletic with crucial victory in the Sky Bet Championship at Burton Albion.
  • Everton loanee Callum Connolly with both goals on debut.
  • Connolly headed in Jacobs corner for his and Latics’ second after the break.
  • Connolly scored opener in first half injury time with close-range header.
Connolly 45, 64

There are debuts and there are debuts. 19 year-old defender Callum Connolly was a late inclusion in the team after a loan deal from Everton was secured in time to play and he made it an amazing afternoon for himself and the club after scoring both of Latics’ goals in this crucial victory at The Pirelli Stadium. Not even he could have dreamt it would have gone that well.

Latics have now reduced the gap to The Brewers, who sit just outside the relegation places at the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table, to just three points, after this magnificent performance against a fiercely competitive side who threw everything at Jakob Haugaard’s goal.

The Danish keeper’s arrival on loan from Stoke City has now coincided with consecutive victories and clean sheets for Warren Joyce and his men and this victory was completely deserved.  They absorbed pressure and struck at the perfect time, just before the break, then doubled their lead midway through the second half in what truly was a perfect away performance. 

Connolly was the one change from the starting line-up against Nottingham Forest, going straight into the team in place of the side-lined Nick Powell. 

A cagey first half in which the hosts had more possession but the best chances fell to Latics was drawing to a close when Connolly popped up from nowhere to head home Stephen Warnock’s looped cross from the left hand side, and send the Latics fans massed directly behind the goal into raptures; it was probably the first time he had ventured into the area but gambled as Latics pushed up-field deep into injury time; and what a decision it proved to be.

Max Power had what was Latics’ best other chance before the break, after 24 minutes, pulling the ball inches wide after holding off two challenges in the box and shooting at an angle.  Michael Jacobs claimed for a penalty when he went down in the box under a challenge from Ben Turner, the referee waved away the appeal and Jon McGlaughlin was able to smother the loose ball as Grigg was ready to pounce. 

Grigg himself had another chance, on 38 minutes, when Yanic Wildschut broke down the left and crossed, but he wasn’t able to get any sort of power behind his shot, which went wide. 

At the other end, there were a few scrambles and the closest Burton came to scoring was when Warnock stretched out a leg to block an effort from Chris O’Grady.

The veteran Stephen Bywater was a surprise replacement for McLaughlin in the second half as Burton, as expected, came hurtling out of the blocks. Warnock had to block another O’Grady effort on 50 minutes but
Latics rode the storm and eventually started taking more control. 

Connolly stole into the box on 64 minutes to nod in Jacobs’ right wing corner past Bywater to double the lead and cap off a truly remarkable debut for the 19 year-old. 

Burton kept coming and Latics had to show real mettle to stay solid. Jamie Ward shot wide from the edge of the box after Lucas Aikens had found space to cross but then superb defending from former Burton defender Jake Buxton, who blocked Matty Palmer’s shot in the box, followed by a goal-line scoop by Dan Burn, kept the Brewers at bay.

Jordan Flores replaced Wildschut in the closing stages and if anything, Latics looked the likelier team to score as they held firm. 

A final word for the Latics fans packed behind the goal, they sung from start to finish and added a great extra ingredient to a memorable afternoon.

McLaughlin (Bywater 46,) Brayford, Akins, Turner, McFazdean, Palmer, Murphy (Naylor, 84), Dyer (McCrory, 84), Sordell, Ward, O’Grady.
Subs not used:  Flanagan, Mousinho, Williamson, Barker.

Haugaard, Warnock, Connolly, Burn, Buxton, Warnock, Power (Morgan, 85), MacDonald, Morsy, Jacobs, Grigg, Wildschut (Flores, 80)
Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, Burke L, Gomez, Colclough, Le Fondre.

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