|Wigan Athletic 1 v 1 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 11th December 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Wigan Athletic 1-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 11th Dec 2021 16:59
James Norwood’s first league goal of the season saw Town to a 1-1 draw against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. Callum Lang’s 22nd-minute goal gave the Latics a 1-0 half-time lead but sub Norwood pounced on 77 to claim the first point of interim manager John McGreal’s stint in charge of the Blues.
Joe Pigott started alongside Macauley Bonne as McGreal switched the Blues to a 4-4-2 system with Toto Nsiala, Sone Aluko and Scott Fraser dropping out of the XI.
Cameron Burgess took over from Nsiala at the heart of the defence with the back four otherwise the same as at Charlton on Tuesday. Ex-Latics loanee Christian Walton was in goal.
In midfield, former Wigan pair Sam Morsy and Lee Evans were in the centre with Conor Chaplin on the right with Kyle Edwards on the left.
Aluko and Fraser were on the bench, alongside James Norwood, who was back in the 18 for the first time since the Gillingham Papa John's Trophy tie game on October 5th.
Wigan Athletic included former Blues Will Keane and Gwion Edwards from the start.
After both teams and the official had taken a knee to applause from the two sets of supporters, the game got under way in steady rain with the Blues, wearing a black and grey away strip for the first time, taking the game to the home side in the opening couple of minutes.
But the Latics began to get on top and in the 10th minute James McClean crossed dangerously from the left and Janoi Donacien did well to get his head on the ball at the back post ahead of former Blue Edwards with Walton subsequently claiming.
Neither side threatened again until the 20th minute when Pigott was caught high by a boot as he held off a defender. The striker was off the pitch as Evans sent the free-kick to the far post but Bonne’s header looped well wide.
Within a minute, Wigan forced Walton into the first save of the game, Tom Pearce breaking away down the left before hitting a well-struck shot which the Blues’ keeper did well to palm over.
The resultant corner was forced behind from another flag-kick from which the Latics went in front. McClean sent the ball over, Walton saved from Gwion Edwards’s near-post flick-on but Lang was on hand to slam in from close range. Town complained at length that Lang had been offside but referee Trevor Kettle showed no interest, probably correctly.
The Blues had greater cause for frustration with the officials two minutes after the goal when Edwards beat two men, cut in from the left and then appeared to be tripped by Jack Whatmough. It looked a clear penalty and Town protested long and hard as referee Kettle awarded only a corner.
As the game passed the half-hour mark, the veteran official began to lose control. He first booked Conor Chaplin for an alleged trip on Pearce, although it appeared a clear dive, before seeming to reverse his decision to card the Blues’ forward after talking to his linesman.
Chaplin, who moments earlier had been held back after angrily pointing his finger at Pearce, quickly took a free-kick, presumably believing one had been awarded for the dive, before the referee stopped and indicated that it was still a Wigan free-kick.
Then, as things seemed to settle down, Pearce went down off the ball with Chaplin near him but with the Town players suggesting he had again taken a dive. Chaplin’s booking then appeared to be reaffirmed.
Order was restored but with one or two niggly challenges and Chaplin booed by the home support.
On 37, the Blues forced Ben Amos into his first save of the afternoon. Evans sent another free-kick from the left to the far post from where Bonne headed towards goal and the keeper dived to his left to claim two-handed with some comfort.
Blues interim boss McGreal approached referee Kettle at the whistle, presumably to get an explanation for the penalty decision and a number of other incidents after a puzzling and incoherent display from Mr Kettle.
Town hadn’t been too much better. After a reasonable first few minutes, they allowed Wigan to take control and then conceded from the first set piece.
The Blues’ only real threat from open play should have resulted in a penalty with Town’s only attempts Bonne’s headers from Evans’s free-kicks.
Chaplin may have been a touch still to be on after losing his head in the late incident, although to a great extent due to gamesmanship and poor officiating.
Town swapped full-backs Donacien and Kane-Vincent-Young with the latter now in the role he often occupied when playing under McGreal at Colchester.
The Blues began the half positively and five minutes after the restart Chaplin sent over a ball from the right which neither Pigott nor Edwards were able to get a touch at the far post.
The mood between the teams remained fractious with Gwion Edwards going to ground claiming to have been caught by Morsy with referee Kettle unmoved, then Donacien was put on the floor by Lang in front of the dugouts as a throw was being taken.
But the Blues were unable to threaten again and the Latics began to look more dangerous. Just after the hour, after Evans had been harshly adjudged to have fouled Lang, Max Power curled a free-kick on to the roof of the net.
It was little surprise that Town interim boss McGreal looked to make changes and that James Norwood was among them, the striker, previously out of favour and training with the U23s, taking over from Pigott, who will again be frustrated at not having made much of his opportunity to start, while Aluko came on for Chaplin, who was booed to the touchline by the home fans.
Norwood struck a weak effort from the left of the box which was little trouble for Amos in the 69th minute but with Wigan still on top and looking the more likely scorers of the game’s second goal.
Two minutes later, ex-Blues striker Keane had the ball in the net having been threaded through by Gwion Edwards but with the linesman’s flag raised.
In the 73rd minute Norwood chipped a ball towards Bonne inside the area but his pass was just too strong for Town’s top scorer.
George Edmundson brought the ball forward towards the right on 77 but was tripped by Lang, who was shown Wigan’s first yellow card of the game.
And from the free-kick, the Blues levelled with Norwood perhaps inevitable the man finding the target.
Evans sent the ball in, the ball ran loose and the returning striker was quickest to react to slam into the net.
Norwood pointed out his name on the back of his shirt as he made his way back into the Town half having scored his first goal since the Papa John’s Trophy tie against West Ham U21s in August.
Kyle Edwards and Aluko swapped flanks as the Blues suddenly looked the side with the impetus. On 81 the Latics switched Gwion Edwards for Gavin Massey.
Two minutes later, Edmundson was booked for a foul on Lang and from the free-kick Keane should have won it for the Lancastrians. Power floated the ball in from the left, the former Blues frontman headed from the edge of the six-yard box and it seemed destined to hit the net but somehow he guided it past the post.
At the other end, the Blues were looking a much more competent unit than earlier in the game. On 86, after good work from Aluko, a blocked Norwood strike looped to Edwards on the right of the area but the winger’s shot was deflected behind.
Following the resultant corner, the ball fell to Aluko but the Nigerian international was unable to get a clean strike on it.
As the game moved into its final minute, the Blues were on top, but Morsy rather wasted a promising attack by shooting well wide from Norwood’s lay-back.
Neither side threatened in three minutes of injury time and referee Kettle’s whistle confirmed that the Blues had taken a point from the division’s second-placed side.
In contrast to Charlton on Tuesday, the Blues players were warmly applauded by their supporters as they made their way to the stand.
The Blues improved after the introductions of Norwood and Aluko with the striker doing what he does best, snaffling up a chance in the area when it came.
The result sees Town drop a place to 12th ahead of Wednesday’s long FA Cup trip to Barrow.
Wigan: Amos, Darikwa, Whatmough, Tilt, Pearce (Humphrys 90), Naylor, Power, Edwards (Massey 80), Keane, McClean, Lang. Unused: Janes, Kerr, Watts, Aasgaard, Jones.
Town: Walton, Vincent-Young, Edmundson, Burgess, Donacien, Morsy (c), Evans, Chaplin (Aluko 62), Pigott (Norwood 62), Edwards, Bonne. Unused: Hladky, Penney, Carroll, El Mizouni, Fraser. Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland). Att: 10,296 (Town: 1,077).
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