Wigan Athletic 0 Shrewsbury 0

Nick Powell sums up the frustration at the DW Stadium on Boxing Day
Nick Powell sums up the frustration at the DW Stadium on Boxing Day
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Will Grigg and Max Power both hit the bar as League One leaders Wigan Athletic were held to a 0-0 draw by second-placed Shrewsbury Town.

In a tight game of few chances, Latics always looked the more likely to break the deadlock against a resolute Town side who were in the faces of their opponents from the off and determined not to let them play.

Grigg hit the woodwork midway through the first half with a clever header from Nathan Byrne’s right-wing cross, before he forced a good save from Town goalkeeper Dean Henderson shortly after.

Town looked threatening on the break without ever working Latics goalkeeper Christian Walton enough.

On the one occasion Walton did look troubled, at the beginning of the second half, Jon Nolan’s deflected shot rolled inches wide of the target.

As the game entered the final quarter, Nick Powell looked odds-on to score when he found himself unmarked at the far post, but he was always stretching for Michael Jacobs’ cross and Henderson was able to save easily.

Max Power took over from Powell for the last five minutes, and the ex-Tranmere man - with three goals in his last two games - unleashed a dipping volley with his first touch, only for the left-foot strike to crash against the bar and away to safety.

Latics had one more chance to win at the death, but fellow substitute Ivan Toney could only side-foot wide from eight yards after Jacobs had dummied Reece James’ cross invitingly.

The result means Latics maintain their four-point lead at the to, with 52 points now from their 23 matches played - which marks the halfway mark of the campaign.

With first playing second, it was predictably a very cagey opening quarter where both sides pretty much cancelled themselves out.

The visitors were determined from the off not to stand off and let Latics play, which had led to Oxford’s catastrophic downfall at the weekend.

Powell took exception to one particularly robust challenge from Abu Ogogo, not quite raising his hands into the face of his opponents but not far off.

Referee David Webb had a chat with both players with no cards issued.

Ogogo, a huge physical presdence in the Town midfield, then went in hard on Sam Morsy, who didn’t appreciate the attention, with the ball rebounding to Powell who had another run-in with a different opponent.

Again the referee elected to let play go on, and thankfully some football broke out midway through the first half.

Byrne did well to get himself a yard down the right, and his cross was nodded goalwards by Grigg, only for the ball to bounce off the top of the bar on its way over.

Grigg had another chance three minutes later, when he burst through the right channel, only to ignore the supporting Jacobs and force a fine save from Henderson.

The goalkeeper did well moments later to keep out a flick from Dan Burn, from a great delivery from Lee Evans.

Henderson did need two attempts to gather a long-range strike from Powell, but did so just in time before Grigg could pounce.

There was a flashpoint on 44 minutes as Jacobs skipped through two defenders and looked to be tripped in the box, although the referee waved play on.

To be fair to the visitors, they came out for the second half with a more positive mindset, and had control for a good 15 minutes without doing much with it.

A long ball found Alex Rodman, whose shot from a tight angle was well wide and well over, but it at least gave Latics something to think about.

At the other end, a superb pass from Powell found Jacobs, who was again sent sprawling to the ground as he bore in on goal, with the referee again waving play on.

The game threatened to bubble over with a few nasty tackles continuing to fly in, with Gavin Massey blatantly body-checked on the edge of the box for a stonewall free-kick.

Powell lined up the free-kick, but it deflected off the wall and on to the roof of the net.

From the resulting corner from Evans, Powell headed wide, before the Shrews broke with real purpose.

The ball was played out to Nolan on the overlap, and his deflected shot completely wrong-footed Walton, only to roll inches past the far post.

Latics sent on Toney for Grigg, and nearly took the lead within seconds as Powell found himself unmarked at the far post, but unable to get much of a connection.

That was Powell’s last involvement before making way for Power, who almost announced his arrival in the perfect manner, only to see his sensational volley come back off the woodwork with Henderson beaten.

Then, with seconds remaining, Toney had the goal at his mercy, only to shoot wide from bang in front.