Two academy graduates make their league debuts for Latics as Paul Cook’s side complete away campaign with 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.
- Match Report: Birmingham City 1 – 1 Wigan Athletic
- Nick Powell cancels out Lukas Jutkiewicz opener in draw at St. Andrew’s.
- Wigan Athletic academy graduates Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir make league debuts in draw with Birmingham City.
BIRMINGHAM CITY 1
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
Attendance: 23,635 (1,381 away)
Nick Powell’s eighth goal of the season earned Latics a point on their final away assignment of the 2018-19 Sky Bet Championship season at Birmingham City.
Lukas Jutkiewicz gave Garry Monk’s side an early lead but Powell’s goal on the stroke of half-time earned Paul Cook’s side another point and extended their unbeaten run to four matches.
Latics academy graduates Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir made their league debuts from the bench on a special afternoon for the England U17 duo and their families.
Cook made seven changes to their starting XI from Easter Monday's 2-0 victory over Preston North End at the DW Stadium, with Jamie Jones back between the sticks in place of Christian Walton, whilst Cedric Kipre returned from suspension in defence alongside Jonas Olsson who captained Latics in Samy Morsy's absence. Darron Gibson joined the midfield, with a front three of Josh Windass, Powell and Joe Garner drafted in.
Danny Fox, Samy Morsy, Reece James, Gavin Massey, Kal Naismith and Leon Clarke were all rested.
Anthony Pilkington made the bench following a recent injury, whilst Academy stars Gelhardt, Weir and Adam Long were involved in a Championship squad for the first time amongst the substitutes.
Midfielder Weir was Latics' youngest ever first team player when he featured in the Checkatrade Trophy as a 15-year-old against Accrington Stanley in November 2017. The England youth international also featured alongside his Three Lions team mate Gelhardt when the pair featured as substitutes against Rotherham United in the Carabao Cup earlier this season.
Callum McManaman and Michael Jacobs remain sidelined through injury.
Latics couldn’t have got off to a worse start as a ball in behind for Jutkiewicz caused hesitation between Jones and Olsson and the striker fired through the goalkeeper’s legs.
Che Adams had a chance to double Birmingham’s advantage on nine minutes but after intercepting a Windass back-pass, he fired straight at Jones.
Latics went close to a leveller on 13 minutes when Byrne crossed from the right for Garner who headed off the inside of the post from close range. When he looked to fire home the leveller, he looked to be brought down, but referee Stephen Martin wasn’t interested in Latics’ claims.
Soon after, Powell showed good strength to win the ball 25 yards from goal and his subsequent shot was well saved by Lee Camp.
Camp was on hand to deny Latics gain moments later as Garner played Powell in behind and the keeper spread himself to deny the forward at his near post.
Latics remained in the ascendency and Antonee Robinson’s cross from the left was fired off target by Garner as he searched for another goal in his first season with Cook’s side.
Captain for the day Olsson had Latics next chance as he got on the end of Evans’ free-kick at the back post but couldn’t finish when under pressure from Camp.
Garner then spurned a massive chance for a leveller just after the half hour; initially Powell had a clever flick well blocked from a Robinson cross with the loose ball falling to Garner who, after good initial composure to take Camp out of the equation, fired tamely at goal when his effort was denied on the Birmingham line.
Latics did get their leveller on the stroke of half-time as Robinson broke well on the left and cut back for Powell to fire in from 25 yards, via a deflection.
At half-time, Cook made a double change, introducing Kal Naismith and Gelhardt – for his league debut – in place of Kipre and Windass. It was the academy graduate who had the first effort of the half, beating his man but dragging his shot from the edge of the area at Camp.
Powell and Robinson then linked up on the left to find Garner in the area, he did excellently to bring the ball under control but saw his effort go agonizingly wide of Camp’s left-hand post.
Latics continued to be the better side as the second-half wore on but couldn’t really create a clear-cut opening and instead played out a draw ahead of their final game of the season against Millwall at the DW Stadium on Sunday (12.30pm kick-off).
Birmingham City: Camp, Pedersen, Roberts, Colin, Adams (Vassell 62), Jutkiewicz (Capt), G.Gardner (Lakin 74), Jota, Davis (C.Gardner 50), Mrabti, Harding
Subs: Trueman, Mahoney, Maghoma, Dacres-Cogley.
Latics: Jones, Dunkley, Olsson (Capt), Kipre (Naismith 45), Byrne, Robinson, Gibson, Evans, Windass (Gelhardt 45), Garner, Powell (Weir 81).
Subs: Walton, Pilkington, Roberts, Long.