Brighton 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Nick Powell
Nick Powell

Wigan Athletic are teetering on the brink of relegation back to League One after slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Premier League-bound Brighton.

Another goal from substitute Nick Powell - his fifth in the last three games - wasn’t enough to prevent Albion all-but securing their place in the top flight, barring a mathematical miracle.

Latics, however, now require snookers of their own if they are to prolong their spell in the Championship, with five points to make up on fourth-bottom Nottingham Forest and only three matches to go - including clashes against promotion-chasing Reading and Leeds after next weekend’s visit of Cardiff.

A goal in either half from Glenn Murray and Solly March did the damage for Albion, who were able to see out a nervy last 10 minutes following Powell’s fine header from Jamie Hanson’s excellent cross.

With a capacity home crowd having turned up for a promotion party, Albion threw everything at Latics right from the off.

Championship player of the season Anthony Knockaert’s cross was superbly cleared by Jake Buxton, before Latics almost pressed the self-destruct button on the 15-minute mark.

Jakob Haugaard - the on-loan Stoke goalkeeper - dropped a Knockaert cross right into the path of Lewis Dunk, before redeeming himself with a decent parry.

Dunk sent a free header flying over the bar moments later, before Uwe Huenemeier headed straight at Haugaard from a good position.

Latics were hanging in there without offering much in the way of a reply.

And there was little surprise when the home side did open the scoring nine minutes before the interval.

Tomer Hemed did well to control a long ball under pressure from Dan Burn, and teed up Murray 25 yards from goal.

The shot appeared to take a slight deflection off Stephen Warnock, and Haugaard was powerless to keep it out.

Murray then found himself in in acres of space down the left, and Latics were indebted to Burn for intervening before he could find Knockaert.

Brighton were claiming a second goal just three minutes before the half-time whistle, although Knockaert’s corner was adjudged to have gone out of play before Dunk nodded it home.

The home side picked up where they’d left off after the break and almost doubled their lead, with Latics again the architects of their own downfall.

Haugaard dropped another simple cross, the time from March cross, and Hemed had a shot that Buxton somehow cleared off the line.

The rebound rolled towards Knockaert, who was penalised for a nudge before he took aim for the empty net.

Knockaert saw a free-kick touched round the post by Haugaard at full-stretch, before Latics made their move on the hour mark.

Off came Gabriel Obertan and Ryan Tunnicliffe, and on came Powell and Ryan Colclough.

Before the new-boys could get into the game, however, Albion were two up.

Knockaert got the better of Warnock and David Perkins down the right, and he supplied March, who smashed his shot through Haugaard from close range.

If that was bad enough, Haugaard must have wanted the ground to open up and swallow him when he again flapped at another routine cross , and only just managed to claw away from Knockaert, who would have had a tap-in.

Sam Morsy replaced Shaun MacDonald as Latics went all-in, but still Brighton looked the team most likely to notch.

Knockaert raced through with 11 minutes to and fired past Haugaard, only to turn and see the flag up on the near side.

Shortly after, a superb break resulted in Murray’s cross somehow evading both attackers in the box, with the Latics defence stretched.

Out of nowhere, Hanson’s cross was headed home by Powell to silence the home fans with plenty of time to go.

And Latics came agonisingly close to a stoppage-time leveller, when Powell won the ball in midfield and raced half the length of the field, with Colclough unmarked to his right.

However, in-form Powell elected to take on the shot himself as he approached the last man, who pulled off a timely block to secure the points - and increase the pressure on Latics at the bottom.