Town recorded a first ever win at Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium thanks to an important second-half goal from midfielder Conor Coady this afternoon.
It was Town’s first win on the road for over three months and continued Wigan’s poor recent form, with Coady’s late goal just rewards for an organised performance from Chris Powell’s side.
There was a surprise in store when the team-sheets were announced at 2pm, as James Vaughan retained his place in the side. His midweek visit to a specialist after his facial injury at Middlesbrough the previous weekend heralded good news, allowing the striker to take to the field with a protective face mask.
The only change Manager Chris Powell made to his side was to introduce new loan signing David Edgar into the line-up at the expense of the injured Jonathan Hogg; he played a holding midfield role as Powell kept faith with his 3-5-2 formation.
The pitch at the DW Stadium was a little sticky and bobbly and made passing the ball crisply difficult for both teams, which meant chances were at a premium in a fairly even first 45 minutes. Despite that, Town arguably went the nearest to taking the lead.
Typically top scorer Nahki Wells was at the heart of the goalmouth action. As early as the ninth minute he volleyed over after Town worked a clever free-kick routine to create space for the Bermudian just inside the area.
At the other end wingers turned forwards James McClean and Callum McManaman were the major threat for Town. Tommy Smith executed a good block on the former inside the area in the 17th minute and from the follow-up midfielder Chris McCann sent a volley straight at Alex Smithies.
Town’s best two chances of the half came just after the half hour mark. After Wells had hit a left-footed snapshot straight at goalkeeper Scott Carson, the first big chance came.
Sean Scannell chased down left back Andrew Taylor and outmuscled his opponent. Noticing that Carson had started to come out to meet him, ‘Scanz’ cleverly looped the ball into the area and onto the head of Wells, but defender Liam Ridgewell did well to get back on the line to clear his looping header off the line.
Five minutes later, striker Martyn Waghorn had to come to the home side’s rescue. A deflected Conor Coady volley won the Terriers a corner and when Butterfield whipped the ball to the near post, Mark Hudson got up to flick it goalwards – only for Waghorn to head it clear.
The hosts came out the better of the two sides straight after the interval, but it took until the hour mark to create a chance; McClean heading over at full stretch when in space to meet McManaman’s cross from the Town left.
The Terriers fought back again, with Butterfield’s corner evading everyone on its way to the back post before Wells controlled and snatched at his chance, slamming the ball into the outside of the side netting.
Wells then spurned a great opportunity – he picked up a poor clearance from Ridgewell and drove into the area, but took too many touches and allowed the centre backs to crowd him out.
Vaughan and Butterfield tested the goalkeeper as the game became very stretched in the final quarter of an hour – and then the goal followed.
A long ball out of defence from Jacob Butterfield gave Wells something to chase into the corner. The striker did well, holding off a defender before playing the ball back to Conor Coady on the left flank. In space, Coady looked up and bent a high curling effort into the top corner, with Carson stranded. Whether it was a cross or a speculative effort, only Conor knows!
Despite an amazing eight minutes of added time played at the end of the game, Town – marshalled by the outstanding Joel Lynch – saw out the tie for an important away win.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Jack Robinson, Jacob Butterfield, David Edgar (Murray Wallace, 85), Conor Coady, Sean Scannell; James Vaughan, Nahki Wells (Harry Bunn, 90)
Lloyd Allinson, Paul Dixon, Joe Lolley, Oscar Gobern, Radoslaw Majewski