Battling performance from Latics goes unrewarded as Aston Villa steal late win at Villa Park.
- Match Report: Aston Villa 3 – 2 Wigan Athletic
- Goals from Nick Powell and Callum Connolly gave Latics a 2-1 lead.
- Birkir Bjarnason steals late win for Villa after James Chester had opened the scoring for the hosts.
ASTON VILLA 3
DUNKLEY (OG) 63
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
Latics were dealt a cruel late blow at Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon but they must take heart from a battling effort at Villa Park.
Birkir Bjarnason got the late winner for the hosts in the third minute of stoppage time after Nick Powell had cancelled out James Chester’s opener and Callum Connolly had put Latics ahead, scoring for the second time on a Latics debut. That goal was cancelled out by an unfortunate Chey Dunkley own goal.
Paul Cook was forced into changes for Latics’ second game of the season as both Gavin Massey and Darron Gibson missed the trip to Villa Park through injury. Callum McManaman and Connolly were the replacements with Josh Windass and Lee Evans making the bench after their Deadline Day moves.
Latics were intense from the off and forced an early error from the Aston Villa backline before Will Grigg laid off for Powell, who dragged his shot wide.
It took just another couple of minutes for Latics to have another effort as Michael Jacobs shot over from 25 yards as Latics controlled the opening stages.
The hosts got the lead against the run of play, though, and the free-kick from which Steve Bruce’s side scored was debatable as Connolly was adjudged to have fouled Jack Grealish. The ball into the box caused indecision from Latics and Villa captain Chester headed in for 1-0.
Latics reacted well, though, and had a good chance to equalise as McManaman, Grigg and Powell linked up before the latter fed Antonee Robinson, whose shot was saved by Orjan Nyland in the Villa goal.
Cook’s side continued to push for an equaliser and good play from Robinson down the left forced a corner which led to two Latics chances. Firstly, Powell saw a header cleared off the line and deflected for another corner, from which Kipre fired over from eight yards.
At the other end, Christian Walton made a good save from a John McGinn shot and Axel Tuanzabe headed over at close range.
Latics got their leveller just before half-time, though, as Grigg and Powell pressed high up the pitch and the latter got close enough to Nyland to block his clearance and watch with delight as the ball bounced into the Villa goal for 1-1.
Early in the second-half, Villa had a chance to go back in front as Andre Green’s deep cross was headed off target at the back post by Jonathan Kodjia.
Latics felt they should have had a penalty soon after as Chey Dunkley looked to have been brought down in the area. However, seconds later, Latics were ahead as a sensational ball from Powell was headed home by Connolly on his second debut for the club.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as Villa got a fortunate second when a Kipre clearance from a McGinn corner bounced off Dunkley into his own goal.
Mile Jedinak may then feel as if he should have put Villa back in front as he headed off target when well placed from a McGinn cross.
It was almost a dream Latics debut for Windass, who within two minutes of coming on made a great run to the back and met a wonderful Evans cross, only to head over. The two substitutes almost making an instant impact.
Latics had another chance for a third as the game entered its final ten minutes; Reece James crossing for Jacobs who headed wide at the back post.
After Windass had seen another effort deflected wide, Latics were dealt a cruel late blow as Bjarnason met McGinn’s cross in the third minute of stoppage time.
Aston Villa: Nyland; Tuanzebe (Adomah 64), Chester (Capt), Jedinak, Hutton; Bjarnason; Elmohamady, McGinn, Grealish, Green (Hepburn-Murphy 73); Kodjia (Hourihane 86)
Subs: Moreira, Taylor, Whelan, Elphick.
Latics: Walton; James, Dunkley, Kipre, Robinson; Morsy (Capt), Connolly; McManaman (Evans 53), Powell (Windass 67) Jacobs; Grigg (Vaughan 79)
Subs: Jones, Walker, Bruce, Roberts.