Wigan Athletic 0-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 27th Mar 2021 17:01
Town boss Paul Cook’s return to his former club Wigan Athletic ended in a 0-0 draw. James Norwood came closest to a goal in the first half, while Funso Ojo and Callum Lang had the best opportunities for the Latics in the second with a draw a fair result.
Kane Vincent-Young made his first start in 17 months as manager Paul Cook made two changes to his Town side with Freddie Sears also returning to the team.
Vincent-Young, a late sub at Portsmouth last week, was at right-back with skipper Luke Chambers moving into the middle for James Wilson, who missed out with a knee injury.
Sears came into the XI for Keanan Bennetts, who dropped out of the 18 and played a left-sided attacking role with few defensive responsibilities. Alan Judge was on the left but tucked in with Gwion Edwards on the right and Alan Judge on the left.
Oli Hawkins was on the bench for the first time having recovered after undergoing knee surgery in January. Jon Nolan, who is out with a knee injury, sat with the subs in the stand.
Among the travelling staff for the first time and on the bench was U23s coach Kieron Dyer.
Wigan made three changes with former Blue Will Keane, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Thelo Aasgaard coming into the line-up, while Scott Wootton and Jamie Proctor missed out due to knocks, while whilst Dan Gardner dropped to the bench.
As at Portsmouth a week ago, Town wore last year’s burgundy and blue away shirt but with blue shorts with a yellow and burgundy trim but on this occasion with burgundy socks.
Prior to kick-off the two benches greeted one another warmly, Wigan boss Leam Richardson having been Cook’s assistant boss at Wigan, Chesterfield, Portsmouth and Accrington.
Neither side threatened in a frantic opening 10 minutes but on 13, having made an important clearing header from Solomon-Otabor’s cross from the left, Chambers blocked Lee Evans’s shot from the edge of the box before Sears was sent away down the left with the Blues urged to get forward quickly by manager Cook from the sidelines.
The former West Ham man played low into the box for Norwood, who tried to flick on to Edwards but the ball was bundled away from the Welshman with the difficult pitch playing a part.
Moments later, Aasgaard was booked for a foul on Judge after the Irishman had taken the ball away from the Wigan midfielder as he looked to shoot from the edge of the box.
In the 24th minute when Norwood chased a looping ball over the top and beat Wigan keeper Jamie Jones to it five yards outside the box.
The Town striker hooked it towards goal but sent it wide before Jones, the home side’s skipper, clattered into him. Referee Ross Joyce immediately indicated a corner, however, Jones hadn’t appeared to get even close to the ball and was lucky not to have seen a card.
Wigan were next to threaten in the 29th minute when Callum Lang played in Keane on the right and the former Town man struck a shot from a tight angle on the right, however, Nsiala slid in to block.
Three minutes later, Lang blazed over from distance for the Latics before the Blues began to put the Lancastrians under a spell of pressure, winning a couple of free-kicks in dangerous areas which were sent into the box and defended by the home side.
After a spell where Wigan were on top but without working a chance, in the final minute of the half, Edwards played in Vincent-Young on the right of the box from where the ex-Colchester man cut back to Sears, whose effort was deflected behind for a corner.
Chambers flicked the flag-kick on at the near post and the ball flew dangerously across goal but without a Town player being able to get a touch.
Wigan immediately broke and the Blues looked to be outnumbered, however, a potentially dangerous ball from the right was cut out by Vincent-Young and seconds later the half was brought to a close.
Despite not having had too many out-and-out chances, the Blues, looking to get the ball forward quickly to their front pair, had had the better of what had been a scrappy half with Norwood having come closest to a goal with keeper Jones very fortunate to have avoided some sort of sanction for his challenge.
In addition, the Blues won a number of corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions, which they ought to have made more of, while Sears’s late opportunity had been well worked down the right.
Wigan’s best chance had been Keane’s shot which was blocked with Tomas Holy not forced into a save.
Town swapped Vincent-Young, who had suffered a hamstring problem, for Luke Woolfenden at the break, the academy product making his first appearance since Cook took charge in his secondary role of right-back.
Vincent-Young had shown some glimpses of what made such an impression on fans when he came in last season, although while inevitably a little ring rusty.
The Latics started the second half on the front foot, an early header from a corner looping into Holy’s arms
Wigan should have taken the lead in the 53rd minute when Funso Ojo was played in on the right of the box by Keane but screwed his shot wide of the far post.
Within a minute, Norwood burst away from his man on the right of the area at the other end but sent his cross too far in front of Sears.
Having made little real headway since the break, the Blues swapped Sears and Judge for Kayden Jackson and Josh Harrop as the game reached the hour mark.
Three minutes later, following a half-cleared long throw, Ojo nodded George Johnston’s cross from the left through to Holy with the keeper grabbing it just ahead of Keane as the striker looked to add a final touch.
In the 64th minute Tendayi Darikwa was booked for a late lunge on Harrop as the sub exchanged passes with Bishop as the Blues worked their way forward.
The game started to become more open and on 68 Edwards broke away past a number of defenders on the right but his cross was eventually cleared. As Wigan counter-attacked Woolfenden hauled down Aasgaard and was booked.
Moments later, Wigan swapped Aasgaard for Dan Gardner, then on 70 Lang was yellow-carded for a foul on Ward.
Wigan broke from Town’s free-kick with Edwards failing to deal with a high ball forward and Holy had to come out of his goal to clear his lines.
Soon afterwards, Armando Dobra replaced Edwards. The Albanian U21 international almost immediately fell awkwardly on his shoulder on the edge of the Town box, as he sought to clear a Chambers block from a Lang shot, but after treatment was able to carry on.
In the 78th minute Dozzell and Dobra exchanged passes on the right after the former England U20 international’s free-kick had been blocked. Norwood reached the looping return ball before Dozzell and managed a shot from a very tight angle which was bundled away from goal.
Wigan weren’t far away from breaking the deadlock in the 82nd minute when Lang for once got away from Chambers but his stabbed effort at goal was stopped by Holy’s feet.
Two minutes later, Zach Clough took over from Solomon-Otabor for the home side, then on 87 Chambers was booked for a foul on Lang. In the penultimate scheduled minute, Keane was replaced by Joe Dodoo.
As the game moved into six minutes of injury time, Lang chased after a long ball over the top but Chambers got across to head it away, colliding with the striker as he did so. Wigan claimed a penalty, however, the Town captain looked to have won the ball cleanly.
Neither side was able to find a goal in the remaining minutes and both sides had to settle for a point.
A draw was probably a fair result from a keenly-contested but not particularly high quality affair.
As so often with Town games, chances were rare at both ends with the Blues unable to find a way through the Wigan backline and Town centre-halves Chambers and Nsiala resolute at the other end.
While Town shaded the first half, Wigan had the better of the second and came closest to finding a goal with Ojo’s shot across the face the only really significant opportunity for either side.
The draw ends a run of three successive away defeats but sees the Blues remain 11th - their position going into the match - although only two points off the play-offs ahead of Good Friday’s home game against Bristol Rovers.
Wigan: Jones (c), Darikwa, Johnston, Tilt, Robinson, Ojo, Evans, Aasgaard (Gardner 68), Lang, Solomon-Otabor (Clough 84), Keane (Dodoo 89). Unused: Evans, Whelan, Perry, Long.
Town: Holy, Vincent-Young (Woolfenden 46), Nsiala, Chambers (c), Ward, Dozzell, Bishop, Edwards (Dobra 71), Judge (Harrop 60), Sears (Jackson 60), Norwood. Unused: Cornell, Skuse, Hawkins. Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland).
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