Wigan Athletic 2 Blackpool 1

Josh Laurent
Josh Laurent

First-half goals from Josh Laurent and Jordan Flores were enough - just - to see Wigan Athletic advance into the second round of the League Cup thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Blackpool.

The visitors probably had the better of the first half, and would have considered themselves very unfortunate to have trailed 2-0 at the break.

Laurent marked his first start for Latics with the first on 17 minutes with a tidy finish, and Flores doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time from the edge of the box.

The visitors gave themselves hope with the goal their performance undoubtedly merited on the hour mark through Armand Gnanduillet.

And they came desperately close to an equaliser in the final quarter, with substitute Jamille Matt squandering a hat-trick of chances from really promising positions.

The visitors were at the races right from the off, and the first chance of the game fell to Bright Osayi-Samuel with only two minutes gone, but he couldn’t convert.

Ryan Colclough had Wigan’s first effort on goal, only to see his shot blocked, before Alex Gilbey forced a wonderful save from Pool goalkeeper Ben Williams at full stretch.

It was third time lucky for Latics on the 17-minute mark, when they did take the lead through Laurent.

The midfielder, one of 11 changes to the starting XI, took delivery of a nice ball just outside the area, before controlling it well and finishing coolly past Williams.

However, the visitors showed a great response and dominated most of the rest of the half.

Gnanduillet saw a strike deflect off Donervon Daniels before being pushed away by Owen Evans, before Max Clayton somehow headed over from close range.

Clayton fired wide and then over from another two decent openings, with Latics struggling to get a foot on the ball.

Will Grigg - captaining Latics for the first time - had his first sight of goal just after the half-hour mark, only to direct Terell Thomas’ cross wide of the mark.

But back came the Seasiders and Nick Anderton really ought to have done better when he got a free run at the far post, but he couldn’t convert a training-ground free-kick.

Blackpool would have considered themselves a tad unfortunate to be trailing at the break, and that feeling was exacerbated when Latics doubled their advantage with the last kick of the half.

Flores was given too much time and place on the edge of the area, and his left-foot drive fizzed over the turf and was past Williams before the goalkeeper could move.

With a two-goal cushion, Latics started the second half with a spring in their step, and Grigg skipped through the defence before being hauled down literally an inch outside the box.

The striker picked himself up and placed the ball, only to hammer it straight into the wall.

Grigg then broke the offside trap superbly and bore down on goal through the left channel, forcing a fine save by Williams, diving to his left.

Latics were given a warning just before the hour mark when a lightning-quick break from Osayi-Samuel saw the attacker cut inside only to fire straight at Evans, who stood up well.

However, from the resulting corner, Gnanduillet’s header was deflected home into the corner of the net.

Latics made two changes with 26 minutes to go, Thomas limping off along with Chris Merrie, to be replaced by Sam Stubbs and Callum Lang.

They were soon joined on the field by Luke Burgess, who replaced a tiring Grigg, but not before Viv Solomon-Otabor had raced clean through, only for Evans to make another fine save.

Blackpool had sent on Matt for the last 20 minutes, and he was quickly presented by two chances in quick succession.

First he fired wide from a good position, before his flick header from a right-wing free-kick beat Evans but bounced off the bar on the way over.

Then, in the fourth and final added minute, Blackpool squandered as gilt-edged an opportunity as they could have wished to receive.

Matt got himself in down the right but, with Nathan Delfouneso unmarked in centre and screaming for it, the substitute ignored his pal and drove his shot past the far post and behind for a goal-kick.