Wigan Athletic 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Shaun MacDonald
Shaun MacDonald

Wigan Athletic remain three points adrift of safety ahead of the Saturday programme after a desperately disappointing 1-0 home reversal to promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday.

The only goal of the game came two minutes before the interval, with Jake Buxton deflecting a shot from Ross Wallace past a helpless Jakob Haugaard.

Latics had chances in the second period to level, but substitute James Weir - on for his debut after joining on Tuesday from Hull - headed the best of them, from Michael Jacobs’ cross, over the bar from the penalty spot.

Right-back Callum Connolly thought he’d equalised after rounding Keiren Westwood and slotting home, only to be brought back for a marginal offside flag.

Then, with seconds left, Jacobs’ cross from the left rolled agonisingly in front of a number of Wigan attackers, who couldn’t stretch far enough to prod the ball home from close range.

It was Wigan’s seventh home defeat in their last eight Championship fixtures, and nips the recent resurgence in the bud following back-to-back league wins over Brentford and at Burton.

The task was always going to be difficult against a Wednesday side whose attacking options were so great that new signing Sam Winnall was only on the bench, while Steven Fletcher and Gary Hooper didn’t even make the matchday squad.

But you’d have been hard pushed to differentiate between promotion-chasers and relegation-fighters during an opening half-hour where literally nothing of any note occurred at either end of the field.

There was a brief moment of excitement when Sam Morsy, again Wigan’s best performer, shaped to shoot from long-range, only to direct it straight at Westwood, who collected on the second bounce.

It was still better than Wednesday’s opening gambit, an Adam Reach effort that failed to hit the target.

But with both sets of supporters longing for the half-time whistle, it was Wednesday who nosed in front as referee Steve Martin was checking his watch.

Latics needlessly gave the ball away on halfway, and Jordan Rhodes somehow beat Dan Burn in the air to flick on the ball towards Wallace.

The little man shaped to shoot across goal, but his effort instead took a wicked deflection off Buxton which completely bamboozled Haugaard and found the Latics net.

Wigan’s response at the start of the second period was decent, Morsy almost finding a way through only to be denied by the advancing Westwood.

There was a sporting round of applause on 55 minutes from the home fans to greet Wednesday substitute Callum McManaman - the man of the match in the 2013 FA Cup final - who was making his first return to the DW since leaving two years ago.

But the action was largely taking place at the other end of the field, with Burn failing to take a couple of decent opportunities, heading straight at Westwood before volleying high over the top from 12 yards.

With a quarter of the game to go, the Latics faithful were treated to a first look at new-boys Weir and Omar Bogle, who came on to replace, rather than support, Will Grigg, and David Perkins also making way.

Weir was quickly into the thick of the action, being inches away from latching on to a clever through ball from Jacobs, before sending a header from the same supply line just over the bar.

McManaman briefly showed his quality to set up Reach for a shot that he rather snatched at, with the ball ending up in the Wednesday contingent in the North Stand rather than the back of the net.

But it was only a brief foray into Latics territory, as the home side regained the upper hand, and indeed thought they’d equalised when Connolly showed impressive striking instincts, taking Max Power’s defence-splitting ball in his strike, and rounding the goalkeeper only to be pulled back by a borderline offside flag.

Despite the bonus of six added minutes, Latics were unable to break through a determined Wednesday defence, with Jacobs sending an inviting stoppage-time cross into the corridor of uncertainty, only to see it roll out harmlessly for a goal-kick.