Gavin Massey double earns Latics sensational away win at Leeds United as Paul Cook’s side battle to vital victory.
- Match Report: Leeds United 1 – 2 Wigan Athletic
- Gavin Massey double earns 10 man Wigan Athletic all three points at Elland Road
- Cedric Kipre was sent off for Latics before Patrick Bamford gave the hosts the lead
LEEDS UNITED 1
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
Massey 44, 61
Down to 10 men, the promotion-chasing hosts have a penalty, 34,000 home supporters creating a vociferous atmosphere and you’ve not won away since August.
That is what Paul Cook’s Latics were faced with after just 15 minutes of Good Friday’s clash at Elland Road.
Pablo Hernandez saw his spot-kick saved by Christian Walton but just minutes later Patrick Bamford gave Marcelo Bielsa’s side the lead and Cook, his players and around 700 travelling supporters were fearing the worst.
But in times of adversity, you discover who you are and what you are made of and Latics’ effort to get back in the game was sensational. Gavin Massey, who must have made more high intensity sprints this afternoon that he ever has before, fired Latics level on the stroke of half-time. On the hour mark, he then scored what turned out to be the winner as he headed home following a brilliant assist from Leon Clarke. Sensational – but still 30 minutes to go.
Whether it was makeshift defender Kal Naismith throwing his body in front of everything, the energetic Antonee Robinson, the ever-reliable Nathan Byrne, the bravery of Walton and Chey Dunkley, substitute Jonas Olsson or the sheer desire of Reece James, Samy Morsy and Lee Evans, Cook’s side did their fans proud and wore the badge with the heart and passion required in the situation to see the game out for a critical three points.
Latics made one change to their starting XI from the 1-1 draw with Norwich City, as Cedric Kipre came in for Danny Fox. Fox was replaced late on in Latics' draw with the Canaries and wasn’t passed fit to feature.
Gary Roberts returned from injury to make the bench with Callum McManaman, Anthony Pilkington and Michael Jacobs remaining unavailable due to injury.
In the early stages, the home side understandably were buoyed by the atmosphere created by their own supporters and Latics had to withstand pressure as Kipre blocked a Hernandez shot on the line after just two minutes.
Clarke headed a Robinson cross off target minutes later before catastrophe struck as Kipre blocked a Bamford shot and was adjudged by referee Scott Duncan to have handled the effort on the line, subsequently being sent off. Hernandez stepped up but Walton did excellently to tip the ball onto the post and give Cook’s side a brief reprieve.
However, it took just a further two minutes for Leeds to go ahead as Bamford got in on the right side and fired beyond Walton for 1-0.
From there, Latics had to try and find a shape, with Cook bravely opting to leave Clarke and Massey high up the pitch, despite his side’s numerical disadvantage.
Clarke actually had a chance to level five minutes after Leeds went in front but he chipped wide when he’d rounded Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, though in his defence Leeds’ retreating defenders and his distance from goal worked against the Sheffield United loanee.
Latics had to be brave as Leeds’ possession was generally within 25 yards of Walton, with Naismith bravely blocking from Tyler Roberts as the hosts went for a second.
Just before half-time, Latics got a surprise goal back as Massey got in behind on the right side from a brilliant Evans pass and fired in coolly for another vital goal in blue and white.
Moments later, he was in again on halfway but pulled back by Mateusz Klich, who was subsequently booked.
After the restart, Walton was on hand to deny substitute Kemar Roofe’s close range header before Klich drove just over from the edge of the area.
Just after the hour mark, though, Latics got a second as Byrne’s cross from the right found Clarke, who headed into the path of Massey for the forward to get his second. Unbelievable.
Cook’s side wanted the full-time whistle but it was still half an hour away and Walton was called into action on multiple occasions, repelling efforts from Hernandez and Bamford as his narrow defence also stood firm.
In between those efforts, James hit the bar with a free-kick and shot wide on the break from 25 yards as he dug deep to find all of his energy.
Two minutes from time, James drove forwards and went through on goal and looked to be hauled down in the area but no penalty was given as Cook and his staff looked on in disbelief.
Ezgjan Alioski fired over in the closing stages for Leeds, who couldn’t find a leveller, sparking wild celebrations between staff, players and supporters.
One of those days we are all in the game for.
Leeds United: Casilla, Ayling (Capt), Bamford, Alioski, Roberts (Roofe 45), Jansson, Hernandez, Harrison, Phillips (Forshaw 45), Berardi, Klich (Clarke 70).
Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Dallas, Davis, Shackleton.
Latics: Walton, Byrne, Dunkley, Kipre, Robinson, James (Garner 90), Morsy, Evans, Massey (Powell 74), Naismith, Clarke (Olsson 65)
Subs: O.Evans, Gibson, Windass, Roberts.