Sheffield Wednesday 0 Latics 3

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LATICS got back to winning ways in scintillating style with a convincing victory that grounded the Owls.

Only torrential rain and a waterlogged pitch had prevented Latics from winning here just before Christmas, when James McClean had given them a deserved lead before the contest was abandoned.

Wigan Athletic's Chris McCann (left) and Sheffield Wednesday's Kieran Lee

Wigan Athletic's Chris McCann (left) and Sheffield Wednesday's Kieran Lee

But this time nothing could save Wednesday from defeat, as Latics moved to within four points of the play-offs with a game still in hand.

Nicky Maynard opened the scoring on the half-hour mark with a deadly finish that Chris Kirkland couldn’t get near to.

And the on-loan Cardiff man was claiming the final touch and a second goal six minutes later when Martyn Waghorn’s corner appeared to go all the way in at the near post.

Wednesday battled away in search of a response, but Ali Al Habsi and his defence held firm.

And substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune secured the points in stoppage-time with a cool finish from close range.

There was no-one more aggrieved than McClean that the first game was halted in December, and the Irishman looked hell-bent on making amends right from the off.

Every time he got the ball down the left, he was beating his man at will and causing panic in the home defence.

On one occasion he beat five men as he cut inside, only to scuff his shot straight at Latics old boy Kirkland.

At the other end, Benik Afobe dragged Wednesday’s first sight of goal wide of the post, as the visitors continued to push forward with belief and confidence.

One attempted attack was cut short thanks to an overhit cross from Jean Beausejour, before McClean again got free down the left,

His cross was half-cleared towards Waghorn, with the defence able to clear before he could pull the trigger.

Wednesday then created and squandered a couple of opportunities, much to the dismay of their expectant supporters.

Atdhe Nuhiu fired weakly at Al Habsi before Afobe got the wrong side of Emmerson Boyce, only to try to cut inside Leon Barnett instead of shooting and falling over own feet.

Those misses were compounded when Latics took the lead on the half-hour mark.

Maynard had barely had a kick of the ball up to this point, but showed his quality by drilling a right-footed shot that was past Kirkland and into the bottom corner in a flash.

Six minutes later, the visitors had doubled their advantage.

There was a comedy of errors in the build-up, with Ben Watson getting way too much power on a free-kick that was soaring out for a goal-kick.

Kirkland seemed to lose his bearings and, in trying to catch the ball, succeeded only in carrying it out for a Wigan corner.

The initial set-piece delivery from Waghorn was poor, and was cut out by the man at the near post for another corner.

It was second time lucky for the winger, who this time whipped in a wicked cross that evaded everyone at the near post and found its way in despite Kirkland’s best efforts.

Maynard was claiming to have got a touch on the line, but either way Latics had vital breathing space.

Wednesday’s attempts to pull one back before the interval - after a lovely one-two to get Jacques Maghoma away down the left - were thwarted by Chris McCann’s excellent covering.

And the visitors would have felt more than comfortable at the interval with their lead.

Latics were forced into a change within five minutes of the restart when Fortune replaced McClean.

But it was nearly game over moments later when a beautifully-worked free-kick from Waghorn found Maynard 12 yards from goal.

This time the shot was pulled and it rolled inches wide of Kirkland’s left-hand post.

Wednesday made a double change in a bid to shake things up, and Michail Antonio almost scored with his first touch only for Al Habsi to pull off a brilliant save.

There was a long break in play after Jose Semedo picked up a worrying-looking injury, which saw him stretchered off.

That brought Caclan Lavery on to the field, and he was Wednesday’s biggest threat in the remainder of the contest.

After Nuhiu headed past the post, Lavery headed over from a good position before seeing Al Habsi pull off a superb parry after a shot from distance.

Good work from Fortune almost let Watson in, before Lavery had another effort that this time sailed past the post.

Chris Maguire fired over the top as Wednesday began to realise it wasn’t going to be their day.

The home side received slight encouragement when the board went up and eight minutes were signalled - thanks largely to the time taken to treat Semedo.

But Al Habsi was determined to keep a clean sheet, and indeed it was Latics who finished the stronger with Fortune slotting home from close range to make it three.

Latics: Al Habsi; Perch, Boyce, Barnett, Beausejour; Watson, McCann, McArthur; Waghorn, McClean, Maynard.

Subs: Nicholls, Crainey, Kiernan, Espinoza, Gomez, McManaman, Fortune (for McClean, 50).

Wednesday: Kirkland; Llera, Semedo, Mattock, Palmer; Nuhiu, Oshilaja, Maghoma, Lee, Maguire; Afobe.

Subs: Martinez, Antonio (for Maghoma, 54), McCabe, Helan (for Afobe, 54), Corry, Lavery (for Semedo, 64), McPhail.

Referee: David Webb

Man of the match - Nicky Maynard