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Wigan Athletic 1-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 23rd Feb 2019 17:19

Former Blue Joe Garner netted an injury time equaliser to deny 10-man Town victory at Wigan. Will Keane’s 32nd-minute penalty had given the Blues a 1-0 half-time lead, seven minutes after Jonas Knudsen had been red-carded but sub Garner slid in the late leveller to break Town hearts and keep them nine points from safety at the bottom of the table.

Skipper Luke Chambers returned as the Blues switched to a 3-5-2 system for the first time under Paul Lambert’s management.

Chambers, who had been out with a foot injury, started in the back three with Knudsen and Matthew Pennington, while Myles Kenlock and James Bree were wing-backs.

Teddy Bishop dropped out of the 18 having been ill earlier week, although the 22-year-old did travel, with Trevoh Chalobah, Jon Nolan and Alan Judge in midfield. Collin Quaner and Keane were the front two.

Cole Skuse was on the bench for the second game running and Flynn Downes was also among the subs having not been involved in last week’s 1-1 draw with Stoke having been unwell last week.

For Wigan, Danny Fox and Lee Evans returned to their XI with Cedric Kipre dropping to the bench and Nathan Byrne not in the matchday squad. Ex-Town striker Garner was among the subs, while January Blues target Anthony Pilkington started.

The Blues, wearing their orange away kit and with two-match touchline-banned manager Paul Lambert sitting in the directors’ box next to general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill and in front of owner Marcus Evans, were threatened for the first time in the second minute when Pilkington headed Michael Jacobs’s left-sided cross over the bar ahead of Bartosz Bialkowski as the keeper sought to catch.

Within a minute Keane claimed a penalty at the other end after going to ground under pressure from a number of Wigan defenders. Premier League referee Lee Probert wasn’t interested however.

Town might well have taken the lead in the eighth minute when Bialkowski kicked long, Keane took the ball down and fed Bree to his right. The on-loan Aston Villa man crossed to Nolan, who was unmarked at the back of the box but the ex-Shrewsbury’s man’s header bounced the wrong side of Latics keeper Jamie Jones’s right post.

A minute later, Wigan threatened. Lee Evans whipped over a low cross from the right which flew just beyond striker Leon Clarke and past Bialkowski’s right post.

Town nearly created an opening in the 11th minute when Bree, who was causing Wigan more than a few problems down the Town right, crossed and found Judge breaking into the area but the Irishman’s control with his chest took the ball away from him and out of play. Ahead of the goalkick, Wigan’s Kal Naismith was booked for an earlier foul on Judge.

Pilkington saw a shot blocked, then on 17 another neat Town move down the right ended with Keane hitting a low curling effort from just outside the box which Jones palmed for a corner, although the ball looked to be going wide in any case.

The Blues were started to assert their control and in the 21st minute Chalobah, watched from the directors’ box by England U20s coach Paul Simpson, shot from the edge of the box and Jones again pawed it wide when it was already going past the post.

From the resultant corner Town, who were getting up a significant head of steam, went even closer. Judge’s flag-kick was flicked on by Quaner and hit Keane at the far post and bounced through to Jones with the striker holding his head in his hands.

However, the Blues were dealt a huge blow in the 26th minute when they were reduced to 10 men after Knudsen was shown a straight red card.

Clarke had been found in space towards the Wigan right by Samy Morsy’s long pass and was breaking towards the area when Knudsen somewhat needlessly pulled him back.

Referee Probert immediately pulled out his red card, which seemed a harsh decision with the on-loan Sheffield United man still having a lot to do before the incident could be deemed an obvious goalscoring opportunity and with Chambers in a position to get across to cover.

Knudsen, sent off for the first time since his Esbjerg fB days, made his thoughts known to the official before trudging off towards the tunnel and the Blues found themselves under pressure following the freekick, Naismith’s set piece itself hitting the wall and flying over.

The Blues were forced to repel a number of corners, while a Josh Windass strike was blocked on the edge of the box.

However, Town eventually managed to escape and in the 32nd minute they went in front from the penalty spot.

Quaner chased a high ball over the top to the left of the box and was tripped by Chey Dunkley. Referee Probert pointed straight to the spot and Keane hit a low penalty to Jones’s right which struck the inside of the post before rebounding across the goal and nestling in the opposite side-net. The on-loan Hull City man gleefully celebrated his third goal for the Blues.

Having gone ahead, 10-man Town dug-in as Wigan looked to break them down, however, without too much success and with their fans starting to show their frustrations.

In injury time Reece James’s cross from the right was headed over by Windass and Town were able to frustrate the Latics until the whistle, which was the trigger for loud boos from the home supporters.

Town had been well on top and starting to create very decent opportunities when Knudsen was red-carded.

It looked an overreaction from referee Probert with Clarke probably not in what could be viewed as an obvious goalscoring opportunity given his distance from goal and Chambers’s position, however, it was an injudicious pull by the Danish international at best.

The Blues were subsequently forced to dig in and when they did get forward forced the foul for the penalty, which Keane took confidently.

Ahead of what was set to be a big half for 10-man Town, manager Lambert, who was allowed to carry out his team-talk in the dressing room despite his touchline ban, swapped Quaner for Gwion Edwards with the Blues in a 4-4-1 system with Keane the lone striker.

Two minutes after the restart Pennington headed a Judge freekick from the right wide at the far post.

Town were more on the front foot in the early stages of the second half than they had been towards the end of the first. On 50 Judge payed a ball for Keane to chase into the area but Jones came out well to block at the striker’s feet.

However, Wigan began to see most of the ball and in the 52nd minute might have levelled. Naismith crossed from the left and the unmarked Pilkington headed miles wide when he should certainly have hit the target.

The pressure was starting to grow and on 55 Naismith again crossed from the left and Clarke and Windass both somehow failed to reach it inside the six-yard box.

A minute later Pennington was booked for a somewhat cynical chop on James but having moments earlier, as he broke forward into the Latics half, been felled by Dunkley with few of referee Probert’s decisions seeming to go in Town’s favour.

Wigan were repeatedly giving the ball away, much their fans’ annoyance, and on 58 the Blues almost profited, Keane working Judge into space on the left but the former Brentford man’s curling effort looped well wide.

Town threatened again just before the hour mark with a patient move down the right eventually seeing Judge hit a powerful shot from an angle which Jones tipped over.

From the resultant corner Wigan broke quickly and probably should have equalised. Naismith made a clever run into the right channel and crossed low for Clarke at the far post but the striker somehow diverted it the wrong side of the post.

Immediately Latics boss Paul Cook made a double change, switching Dunkley and Pilkington for Nick Powell and Callum McManaman.

Three minutes later, in the 64th minute, the Blues were forced into their second change of the afternoon with Kayden Jackson replacing Keane, who looked to have suffered a hamstring injury.

Morsy was booked for a nasty-looking late challenge on the back of Judge’s ankle in the 67th minute, which the midfielder clearly thought was deliberate.

Wigan were by now seeing most of the ball and were occasionally finding their way through the Blues’ backline. On 69 Jacobs got round the back and cut the ball back from the left but Clarke again sent the ball the wrong side of the post.

Town quickly broke forward to the other end and Jackson did well to lay the ball back to Edwards from the right but the ex-Peterborough winger scuffed his shot.

On 72 James hit a well-struck 25-yard freekick straight at Bialkowski, then Kenlock was booked for a foul on McManaman on halfway having been played into trouble by Pennington.

Two minutes later Judge brilliantly blocked from Windass on the edge of the box, then Naismith blazed over with the pressure on the Blues increasing.

Judge was switched for the more combative Downes for the final 12 minutes while referee Probert dealt with an ongoing spat between Jackson and Danny Fox, the Wigan defender having left the Town striker in a heap with a late challenge missed by the officials a few moments earlier.

With the game by now almost wholly being played in the Town half, Windass was replaced by ex-Blue Garner for the final nine minutes.

In the 85th minute Wigan created as good an opportunity as they had in a while, Powell heading James’s cross from the right goalwards but Bialkowski pulled off a save from his top drawer to paw the ball away from goal.

Town’s valiant attempt to hold on to their lead was finally ended as the game moved into injury time and inevitably by Garner, who they sold to Wigan for £1.25 million on deadline in August.

James broke away from Downes on the Wigan right and sent over a low cross which Garner slammed over the line from close range.

The goal and the announcement of six additional minutes led to an increase in the volume from the Latics support, sensing all three points were now possible.

Deep in injury time Edwards burst away on the Town right but shot across the face and well wide and soon after referee Probert ended what had come so close to being a vital victory for the Blues.

Having gained their lead in the first half, the 10 men battled courageously throughout the second and even had opportunities to add to their lead, although found themselves under greater pressure after Keane had been subbed.

Wigan had toiled for the most part and when they had carved out chances Clarke had repeatedly failed to take them.

The Blues looked set to claim the three points they desperately needed to win to give their fading hopes of survival a boost when Garner popped up to break his old team-mates’ hearts with his late goal.

The Town players’ frustration was plain to see after the final whistle as they made their way off having applauded their fans, the manner of their performance while reduced to 10 having deserved the victory, while they had been the better side before the red card.

Town remain nine points plus goal difference from safety with Reading and Rotherham drawing 1-1 at the Madejski Stadium with the Royals at Portman Road next Saturday.

Wigan: Jones, James, Dunkley (Powell 61), Fox, Naismith, Evans, Morsy (c), Pilkington (McManaman 61), Windass (Garner 81), Jacobs, Clarke. Unused: Walton, Gibson, Massey, Kipre.

Town: Bialkowski, Bree, Pennington, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Kenlock, Chalobah, Nolan, Judge (Downes 78), Keane (Jackson 64), Quaner (Edwards 46). Unused: Gerken, Skuse, Jackson, Downes, Nsiala, Dozzell. Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

Photo: Pagepix

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TimmyH added 12:39 - Feb 24
Dear me, just saw the highlights. Knudsen deservedly sent off, what was he thinking!?! and Garners goal the defence all over the place!

ITFCsince73 added 12:56 - Feb 24
Yes #TimmyH. And the leader of that defence is the 1st name on the team sheet for next game.
How many games have the team won all season? Yet the leader of that team 1st name on the team sheet next game.
All the recipe of why we’re so far from anybody else.
Come May we’ll all look back at the 2 best performances of the season, look at the starting 11, then some,may realise were it all went wrong. Persisting with the under performers is our downfall.

ITFCsince73 added 13:25 - Feb 24
Last 2 games, 4 points lost, directly linked to a player who doesn’t even want to be at the club.
Wanted out last summer, wanted out a matter of weeks ago. You really couldn’t make it up!

roytheboy added 14:16 - Feb 24
I was proud of our team today, however although we are now starting to play creative attacking football, we still do not pose any significant goal threat, Mr Evans surely must understand that this is down to him and Paul Hurst, we need people like Garner, Waghorn Mc'Goldrick and of course Murphy, all the family silver sold off and not sufficiently replaced, Paul Lambert is doing a great job but is having to work with youngsters and unfit loan players, albeit that they are are giving 100% however it is plain for all to see that we lack real quality at the sharp end and that will be our downfall I suspect.

Nobbysnuts added 14:59 - Feb 24
The noose is tightening. Just waiting for someone to kick away the chair.💀

ITFCsince73 added 15:10 - Feb 24
Roy the boy#. Have you looked at the table and goal difference.
If only the cutting edge up top was the issue.

runningout added 21:53 - Feb 24
Not heartbroken at Wigan game, and won’t be at end of season whatever the outcome. We will get what we deserve. I’ll still love :-)

runningout added 21:55 - Feb 24
Finger trouble..meant I’ll still love them

KiwiBlue2 added 09:06 - Feb 25
ITFC73 - hopefully Knudsen goes at the end of this season. Has obviously become a legend in his own mind, if no one elses, and does not want to be here ..... I hope that Lambert takes the opportunity to use others in his place. His 'tackle' and dismissal was like him raising two fingers to the manager, his team mates, the club and supporters..... immensely disappointing in terms of the overall game and effort the team put in......

Seri added 10:23 - Feb 25
If we can keep Nolan, Edwards and Judge - and get our strikers going - I think we'll be perfectly fine in L1. I think Jackson, Harrison and Keane all have great potential.
Attractive football is better to be a part of than that awful hoofball tactic that kept us 'punching over our weight' for some years. Lets build from the ground and up instead of clinging to a level we're obviously not good enough for. COYB !!

Razor added 10:29 - Feb 25
Its now Mnday morning and the feeling is just as raw----GUTTED.

I am so proud of the lads for Saturday and when they say grown men dont cry dont believe it!

First never a sending off-----Probert (demoted Pemiership ref I think) had his red card out before the player hit the deck---it was not an obvious goalscoring positon and Chambo was already coming round to intercept.Two guys in German football did a lot worse yesterday and were just booked.

Highlights bit doesnt show our second half chances becuae the boys did keep going and tried to win the game--one particularly fantastic shot that was going in and the keeper got a finger to---who does these?

Love the boys even more-----lets all do it TOGETHER on Saturday----BLUE ARMY!!

IpswichToon added 10:34 - Feb 25
Did anyone else notice in the 88th minute a Wigan player went down injured, so Bart kicked the ball out - still in our half. Then Wigan just played on from there! As much as it didn't directly lead to the goal, it was only a minute or two until they did.

blueboy1981 added 19:32 - Feb 25
KiwiBlue2 ......... spot on post - totally agree with you ref: Knudsen.

KiwiBlue2 added 06:20 - Feb 26
Thanks blueboy1981 ...... I have never thought that in 45 years of following Ipswich's fortunes, albeit from the other side of the world but occasionally at Portman Road, that I would ever be moved to write something so damning of a player representing Ipswich....... so sad given the present circumstances that this great club finds itself in. Hopefully the end of the season will see that moron gone........ coyb......

dirtydingusmagee added 08:49 - Feb 26
Blueboy1981, Evans wasnt on the pitch,but the players that were on there,are simply not up to what is required consistently in the Championship, that is down to under funding, Therefor Evans is to blame, He by his own admission wont /cant increase funding, so we need him out, however finding a buyer wont be easy and the way the club is now heading dosnt help.Those that feel we will bounce back are going to have a rude awakening i think .

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