Altrincham 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

A SUPERB goal from Billy Mckay wasn’t enough to give Wigan Athletic victory in their opening pre-season clash at Altrincham.

The Northern Ireland international opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark with a wonderful left-foot shot into the top corner of the net.

But Michael Rankine’s goal against the run of play just before half-time was enough to ensure honours ended even.

Latics had a late chance to win it when substitute Ryan Jennings was fouled inside the penalty area.

James Tavernier stepped up but, just as he did at Derby last season, saw his effort saved by the home goalkeeper.

The game fizzled out into a no-contest in the second half with Latics using 22 players in total.

But Gary Caldwell will have been more concerned with getting as many of his squad vital match minutes with the League One season only 24 days away.

Latics had settled into their stride the quicker and dominated the early exchanges.

James Perch got himself free down the right-hand side, and his cross found Martyn Waghorn in acres of space.

However, the striker’s side-footed effort was badly wide of the mark.

Richard O’Donnell had a relatively comfortably introduction to the game courtesy of a couple of easy shots from distance.

But the goalkeeper might have found himself in difficulty had Ryan Crowther not completely fluffed his lines from 12 yards.

Nice work from Tim Chow created an opportunity for Sanmi Odelusi, whose header was disappointingly straight at the home goalkeeper.

But Latics were enjoying almost total dominance by this point, and deservedly took the lead on 27 minutes.

The home defence were unwise to give Mckay time and space on the edge of the area.

And the former Inverness man curled a beautiful effort into the top corner with his left foot.

It was almost 2-0 within seconds, Waghorn with a similar strike from similar distance but this time seeing his shot fly inches past the upright.

And Latics were made to pay for their profligacy as Altrincham levelled eight minutes before the break.

Rankine took advantage of a mix-up between Jason Pearce and O’Donnell, and slotted past the goalkeeper with aplomb.

Latics nearly regained the advantage on the stroke of half-time through Mckay, but this time the shot didn’t trouble Tim Deasy.

Lee Nicholls took over between the sticks for Latics at the start of the second period, and he immediately had to move his feet quickly to avoid being dispossessed by a home striker.

Before the game could get back into its rhythm, there followed a raft of substitutions that prevented either side from finding any kind of tempo.

Altrincham briefly threatened when a trialist aimed a shot just past the far post with Nicholls at full stretch.

But Latics also could have nicked it with Jennings looking particularly sharp off the bench.

The youngster looked to have been tripped in the area inside the final quarter only for the official to wave play on.

But the home side were not so lucky with 11 minutes to go when Jennings toed the ball past the goalkeeper and tumbled over the sliding challenge.

This time a penalty was given, only for the Deasy to redeem himself with a fine save to deny Tavernier, with the help of his right-hand post.

Latics: O’Donnell; Perch, Daniels, Pearce, Taylor; Power, Chow, Perkins; Waghorn, Odelusi, Mckay.

Subs: Nicholls (for O’Donnell, 46), Tavernier (for Perch, 62), Morgan (for Daniels, 62), Barnett, Taylor-Sinclair, Anson (for Pearce, 73), Purzycki (for Perkins, 62), McNally (for Chow, 59), McCann (for Power, 62), Jennings (for Taylor, 59), Flores (for Odelusi, 59), Cosgrove (for Waghorn, 73), Robles (for Mckay, 62).

Altrincham: Deasy, Sinnott, Clee, Moult, Havern, Marshall, Lawrie, Richman, Rankine, Reeves, Crowther.

Subs: Coburn, Leather, O’Keefe, Deacey, Heathcote, Trialist, Swift, Brown.