Magnificent Dan Burn inspires vital win at St Andrew’s
- Wigan Athletic beat Birmingham City in the Sky Bet Championship.
- Dan Burn scores his first goal for the club in first half.
- Gabriel Obertan makes full debut, Josh Laurent makes debut as 2nd half sub.
- First start for Alex Gilbey since mid-September.
BIRMINGHAM CITY 0
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
Attendance – 15,596
A magnificent rear-guard action from Latics from start to finish, Dan Burn’s first goal for the club, a superb team effort from one to eleven...and most of all three vital points – what a great night at a rain-soaked St Andrew’s.
Burn poked home what turned out to be the winning goal midway through the first half, and in truth, Latics could, maybe should have scored again.
The home side threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Latics back four, but as they have been for most of the season this season, they were immense in withstanding the pressure and the way the players celebrated with the supporters at the end showed just how much this victory meant to everyone connected with Wigan Athletic.
Latics were forced into making three changes in place of the suspended Sam Morsy and the injured Shaun MacDonald and Ryan Tunnicliffe. Max Power, Alex Gilbey and Gabrield Obertan came into the side, the latter for his first start. On the bench, there was a first ever inclusion for Alex Bruce and Josh Laurent, and a return for Ryan Colclough. Will Grigg and Ryan Tunnicliffe both picked up late injuries and missed the trip.
Latics went in ahead at the break having soaked up Blues’ pressure early on and had just started to show more intent when they scored.
Bogle won a free-kick wide on the right, which Michael Jacobs floated in, Jake Buxton headed goalwards and his effort was deflected for a corner by Che Adams. Jamie Hanson took it from the left side, it was flicked on by Gabriel Obertan and Burn bundled it home past Tomasz Kuszczak, albeit the Pole got fingertips to the ball.
Latics had other chances too in a lively first half, Obertan and Bogle had shots blocked from the edge of the box, while Hanson and Jacobs both had free-kicks over and saved respectively, and Gilbey put a late effort wide.
Craig Gardner stung Matt Gilks’ hands within a minute, taking a free-kick himself after Hanson fouled him outside the box, but it was saved comfortably. The home side also threatened when David Davies turned in Cheike Keita’s left wing cross on 25 minutes but Gilks saved well. Robert Tesche had a long-range effort deflected by Hanson while Burn magnificently headed away a Gardner free-kick from under the crossbar.
Birmingham manager Gianfranco Zola gambled on making two changes at half-time, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Kerim Frei replacing Adams and Dacres-0Cogley.
Gilbey had an effort on 50 minutes, shooting wide from an angled drive but Birmingham bombarded the Latics goal in the early stages after the break with a succession of long balls, which put the back four under pressure, testing the back four to the limit but they held firm, marshalled excellently by Burn and Buxton in particular.
Josh Laurent came on in the 73rd minute to make his Latics debut in place of Obertan, then James Weir replaced Gilbey three minutes later.
Frei placed a free-kick a foot over the bar after he was fouled on the edge of the box by Hanson after 79 minutes but still Latics were looking solid, and occasionally breaking. Jacobs shot just wide after a move between Bogle and Weir had allowed him to run at speed into the box on 80 minutes.
As we entered the final ten minutes, the pattern stayed the same with Birmingham piling on the pressure with high balls and Latics standing tall.
The home fans shouted for a penalty when Emilio Nsue’s far-post header struck Callum Connolly after 88 minutes but the referee was not interested. Frei blasted a shot over just afterwards from 20 yards.
Three minutes’ added time were called as the rain started pouring down and Latics were almost there, content to sit deep and deal with the danger.
Kuszczak; Nsue, Dacres-Cogley (Frei, 46), Shotton, Robinson, Keita, Tesche, Kieftenbeld (Jutkiewicz, 46), Davis (Maghoma, 86) Gardner; Adams.
Subs: Legzdins, Grounds, Gleeson, Bielik, Maghoma.
Gilks, Connolly, Burn, Buxton, Warnock, Hanson, Gilbey (Weir, 74), Power (Perkins, 44), Jacobs, Obertan (Laurent, 73), Bogle
Subs not used: Evans, Bruce, Colclough, Mandron