Wigan Athletic 0 Stoke City 0

Nick Powell
Nick Powell

Not even the second-half return of Nick Powell from injury - after almost three months out - could break the deadlock as Wigan Athletic and Stoke City cancelled themselves out at the DW Stadium.

Mid-table Stoke hit the post at the end of the first half when Latics centre-back Cedric Kipre deflected a Joe Allen shot onto the outside of the upright.

And substitute James McClean - the former Latics hero - had two decent chances in the second half, which he couldn’t take advantage of.

For Latics, Reece James saw a long-range shot well saved by Jack Butland, with Michael Jacobs coming close twice in the opening 10 minutes.

But they lie a healthy six points clear of the drop zone, ahead of a 10-day break because of Derby’s FA Cup commitments this weekend.

And the chance to jet out and get some summer sun with hopefully refresh and re-energise some weary legs ahead of the run-in.

Hoping to complete a first league ‘double’ of the season, Latics flew out of the traps and Jacobs had two great chances before Stoke settled into their stride.

First he met a deep cross from Nathan Byrne at the far post, only to steer his effort wide of the mark.

Then, after a clever one-two with Josh Windass, the winger raced clear only to be denied by the advancing Butland.

Chey Dunkley then headed wide from a James corner, with Stoke having barely had a kick in Wigan territory.

That changed when the visitors won a free-kick 30 yards from goal, which saw Sam Clucas curl the ball over the wall and force a very good save from Jamie Jones, diving to his right.

Latics were then indebted to Kal Naismith for scooping away a dangerous cross from Benik Afobe on the Latics goalline, before Danny Batth did likewise at the other end to deny James.

The visitors thought they’d taken the lead just before the interval, only for Allen’s shot to take a decisive deflection off Kipre and kiss the ‘right’ side of the post from Wigan’s point of view.

Latics started the second half brightly and James forced Butland into a good save with a low strike from distance.

But credit the visitors, they were asking more and more questions, pushing Latics further and further back as the half went on.

Tom Ince should have done better from the edge of the box, but could only fire high and wide.

Stoke then introduced ex-Latics man McClean for the final third, and the Republic of Ireland winger was straight into the game with his textbook desire and energy.

With his first touch he took delivery of a clever flick from Sam Vokes, despite appearing to be in an offside position, and bore in on goal.

Latics were perhaps fortunate he was new to the game, which possibly explained his sliced shot that didn’t threaten Jones’ goal at all.

McClean did better moments later by skinning Gavin Massey - on for Anthony Pilkington - although Vokes was unable to steer his cross goalwards, and Jones pounced on the loose ball.

That was the sign for Powell to be sent on, for Josh Windass, which lifted the home fans for the final 15 minutes, with Joe Garner also taking over from Leon Clarke.

But the new boys were unable to get to speed with the game sufficiently to make a meaningful impact.

And when Butland was alert enough to snaffle Naismith’s cheeky free-kick that was aimed at the near post, with everyone expecting a cross to the far side, both sides had to settle for their point.