Goals from Leon Clarke and Lee Evans earn local derby win and secure Latics’ Sky Bet Championship status.
- Match Report: Wigan Athletic 2 – 0 Preston North End
- Goals from Leon Clarke and Lee Evans earn local derby win for Latics.
- Win over Preston North End – who had Ryan Ledson sent off – secures Latics’ Sky Bet Championship status
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
PRESTON NORTH END 0
Attendance: 12,496 (2,891 away)
Latics defeated local rivals Preston North End 2-0 to complete a fine Easter weekend this afternoon, with their Sky Bet Championship status secure after back-to-back wins.
Leon Clarke’s early goal was the perfect start for Paul Cook’s side and Lee Evans ensured that the three points would be going to Latics when he fired in midway through the second-half. Ryan Ledson was sent off for a late challenge on Kal Naismith before half-time, resulting in Alex Neil’s men playing the second 45 a man down.
Cook made one change to his side from Good Friday’s win at Leeds United, with central defender Cedric Kipre replaced by Danny Fox, who returned from injury following a knock in the 1-1 draw against Norwich City. Kipre was sent off for handball against Leeds and Latics’ appeal to have the suspension overturned was rejected on Sunday evening.
Anthony Pilkington, Callum McManaman and Michael Jacobs remain sidelined through injury.
A slow start from both sides signified the turnaround from respective Good Friday wins over Leeds United and Ipswich Town but Latics got themselves in front when Antonee Robinson’s cross fell to Naismith, who squared for Clarke to tap home.
Latics created the better chances as the half continued with Chey Dunkley seeing a header cleared from a Naismith corner before the Scot headed wide himself from a Nathan Byrne delivery.
Cook’s side saw their position strengthened further just after the half hour as Ledson and Naismith collided in the Preston half with referee Andrew Madley adjudging the Preston midfielder’s challenge to be late and reckless, resulting in a straight red card.
Preston seemed motivated by the dismissal and were the better side in the initial play after the red card and Callum Robinson should have done better from Lukas Nmecha’s cross when he was well-placed, but he mis-kicked.
Just before half-time, the visitors looked like they might get their leveller but Joe Rafferty headed off target from Paul Gallagher’s corner.
After the restart, Latics had an immediate opportunity to double their lead as Clarke went in behind. The striker was denied by Declan Rudd and Latics squandered their chance after substitute Nick Powell recycled the ball with Morsy squaring to Naismith, who was offside.
Clarke was important at the other end soon after as he blocked Ben Davies’ goal-bound header at close range before Dunkley had to put his body on the line to deny Darnell Fisher.
It was continued pressure for Latics to deal with around the hour mark and Christian Walton had to be on hand to deny a Gallagher free-kick from the left of the area – a save that would help him to preserve another Latics clean sheet.
The points were soon heading in Latics’ direction though as Powell crossed for Clarke at the back post and, after he’d challenged for the ball, it fell to Evans who rifled home.
Clarke had the chance for his second not long after as he met Evans’ cross at the back post but fired wide.
Latics: Walton, Byrne, Dunkley, Fox, Robinson, James, Morsy (Capt), Evans, Massey (Powell 45), Naismith (Roberts 66), Clarke (Garner 83)
Subs: Evans, Gibson, Windass, Olsson.
Preston North End: Rudd, Fisher, Davies, Robinson, Johnson, Gallagher (Capt), Storey, Rafferty, Ledson, Maguire (Moult 76), Nmecha (Ginnelly 76)
Subs: Ripley, Earl, Stockley, Huntington, O'Reilly