Wigan Athletic 0 Blackburn 0

Ivan Toney
Ivan Toney
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Wigan Athletic moved to within a point of the League One summit - but blew the chance of overhauling leaders Shrewsbury - after being held to a goalless draw by 10-man Blackburn.

Despite dominating for the majority of the encounter, and playing the last half an hour with an extra man, following the sending-off of Elliott Bennett for a second bookable offence, Latics couldn’t force a crucial winning goal.

The closest they came was when Gavin Massey fired against a post in the second period from the edge of the area.

Skipper Sam Morsy also tried his luck in the dying seconds, only to send a 30-yard rocket inches over the top.

But the visitors dug in for what they’ll consider a deserved point, and could even have nicked all three had they made better use of a couple of counter-attacks in the final quarter.

Right from the off, it looked as the the opening goal would probably prove decisive, with defences firmly on top and the forward players of both sides struggling to come terms with a heavy pitch in difficult conditions.

Latics edged a rather drab first half, but didn’t do enough to make Rovers goalkeeper David Raya feel particularly uncomfortable.

The home side were claiming a penalty when lone frontman Ivan Toney appeared to be hauled down by the sliding Derrick Williams inside the box, but the challenge was ruled fair and play continued.

Callum Elder was getting a little bit of joy down the left-hand side, and from one cross Michael Jacobs sent a header wide when he ought to have at least hit the target.

Nick Powell was coming in for some rough treatment from the visitors, and the Latics bench were fuming on one occasion when the ex-Manchester United man was clattered in the air only for play to go on.

As Powell fell to the ground, Massey played to the whistle - or lack of - and raced in on goal, only to stab a tame effort straight at Raya from a wonderful position.

After spending much of the first half on the back foot, Blackburn showed as an attacking force in the opening 15 minutes of the second period, which proved to be their best spell of the game.

They fashioned a couple of gilt-edged chances, both of them falling to Bradley Dack, their outstanding player on the day.

Fortunately for Latics, the summer signing from Gillingham headed the first chance wide of the mark before volleying the second inches over the bar.

As they sensed there might be something in the game for them, Rovers were rocked on 58 minutes when Bennett threw himself to the ground under little or no contact from Dan Burn, and received a second yellow from referee Mr England for his actions.

Latics were further boosted with Rovers withdrawing Dack in the reshuffle that followed, which stunted the visitors’ attacking threat even further.

As Latics took almost total control, a beautifully disguised pass from Powell saw Elder advance on goal, only for the Australian to fire against the legs of Raya.

But with the home side committing more and more men forward, they were leaving more and more gaps at the back - and Rovers continued to be a threat on the counter.

Centre-back Chey Dunkley had to be alert to produce a fabulous interception to deny substitute Danny Graham a shooting opportunity.

Then Graham inexplicably failed to find fellow new-boy Harry Chapman in acres of space on a two-on-two break, Burn this time getting in the way.

Latics themselves rallied in the closing stages, with Massey taking aim and being unlucky to see his shot beat Raya but not the right-hand upright.

And not even the introduction off the bench of both Ryan Colclough and Gary Roberts could tip the balance in Wigan’s favour as honours ended even.