Defeat on the road at the DW Stadium
A second half goal from Jack Whatmough condemned Town to a disappointing defeat at Wigan Athletic in the latest Sky Bet Championship game of the season.
In a game of few real chances, the centre back’s late header – following Wigan’s best spell of territorial pressure inside the 90 minutes – settled the game.
Interim Head Coach Narcís Pèlach made three changes for his first selection back in charge, reintroducing Etienne Camara and Josh Ruffels into the side and handing a first Town start to Anthony Knockaert.
In a few short days, he had made a few changes to the approach. Town defended in a back four but built in a three, with the right back coming narrow. Up the pitch, there was a clear focus on the high press, with Joe Hungbo in particular putting left back Ryan Nyambe under tremendous pressure whenever he got the ball.
It was an uneventful opening 45 minutes of football at the DW Stadium, but Town did edge it and create the only openings worthy of mention.
Watford loanee Hungbo was the obvious danger man, with his direct style causing Nyambe concerns, and he was responsible for the best two chances in open play. The first came in minute 21 when he barged the defender off the ball to latch onto Tom Lees’ ball forward before charging down the dead ball line; his shot, from the narrowest of angles, was saved by Ben Amos before the Wigan defence managed to scramble the rebound clear.
The second chance came in the 34th minute when the winger won a corner, which was worked short to the edge of the box for Knockaert. He collected the ball on his favoured left before unleashing a 25-yard shot that whistled just wide of the near post.
The former Leicester City winger deserved lots of credit for his work off the ball too – he was relentless in his pressing and tracking back on our left.
Hungbo sent a 25-yard free kick goalwards in the final minutes of the half, but it was easily saved by the custodian low to his left.
Wigan, under new boss Shaun Maloney, tried to switch the ball left to winger James McClean at every opportunity. Town’s right side was forced into a change early in the half when Ollie Turton had to be withdrawn with a worrying-looking knee injury, but Matty Pearson did an admirable job against the Republic of Ireland international in his stead.
The beginnings of the second half echoed the first, with neither team besting the other. Knockaert was still lively, and his penalty box entry just before the hour mark drew a challenge that had him asking for a penalty – but referee Gavin Ward wasn’t interested.
Town were dealt another injury blow when goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík went down soon after – he was replaced by Nick Bilokapic in a triple substitution alongside Jordan Rhodes and Connor Mahoney.
That preceded Wigan’s best spell, as they managed to pen Town into their own half. Despite that, there were no saves for the young Australian to make until the 82nd minute corner that Whatmough headed in at the back post from close range.
The best Town could muster in response was three wide set pieces that were put into the box, but goalkeeper Amos claimed Jack Rudoni’s two deliveries before Mahoney’s late corner was halted by a foul on the ‘keeper from Rhodes.
Town’s team (4-5-1)
Tomáš Vaclík (Nicholas Bilokapic, 61’); Ollie Turton (Will Boyle, 14’), Tom Lees, Matty Pearson, Josh Ruffels (Jaheim Headley, 86’); Joseph Hungbo, Jack Rudoni, Jonathan Hogg (c), Etienne Camara, Anthony Knockaert (Connor Mahoney, 62’); Martyn Waghorn (Jordan Rhodes, 62’)
Josh Koroma, David Kasumu
Martyn Waghorn (22’)