Wigan Athletic 1 Northampton 0

Michael Jacobs scores the winning goal against Northampton
Michael Jacobs scores the winning goal against Northampton

A wonder-strike from Michael Jacobs broke the hearts of his home-town and former club as Wigan Athletic edged past Northampton by the only goal.

Latics moved up to second place in the fledgling League One table by winning their game in hand which, over the 90 minutes, they undoubtedly deserved.

But their failure to add to Jacobs’ 30-yard effort just before the hour mark almost cost them when Latics old-boy Leon Barnett almost equalised in the final quarter, only to be denied by Jamie Jones.

Skipper Sam Morsy almost gave the scoreline a more accurate look in stoppage-time, only to hit the post and see the ball roll across the goal-line before being hacked away.

However, it was a bitter-sweet night for Morsy, who picked up his fifth caution of the season, which rules him out of Saturday’s trip to fellow high-flyers Peterborough.

An early mistake by Barnett had almost let in allowed Gavin Massey, but the in-form forward - with three goals in his last two games - fired wide of the post.

Will Grigg thought he’d scored when he controlled well before lashing into the bottom corner, only turn to see the offside flag up on the far side.

Grigg, who’d scored his first goal in almost a year last weekend against Bristol Rovers, was having a real battle against Barnett, who was giving as good as he was getting on his DW return.

And after Massey had sprung the offside trap, it looked as though Grigg had a tap-in only for Barnett to reach out a long leg and divert the ball to safety.

Latics were getting reasonably joy through the channels, and Jacobs managed to get away down the left, and his cross was almost sliced past his goalkeeper by a Town defender.

The home side were on top without really hammering on the door, and they suffered a blow just before half-time when Morsy was yellow-carded which has earned him an unwanted weekend off.

Town would have been happy to reach the interval on level terms, but Latics made their intentions clear at the start of the second period by coming flying out of the blocks with a renewed vigour.

And after 10 minutes of incessant pressure, Latics broke the deadlock in style through Jacobs.

The ex-Town winger was allowed far too much time and space as he advanced on goal, and his right-foot shot from 30 yards was past Matt Ingram before he could move.

It was almost 2-0 within seconds when, from a similar distance, Lee Evans saw a shot deflected just wide of the far post, with Ingram struggling to get across.

Latics were well on top by this point, and Dan Burn was encouraged to bring out the ball from halfway.

After playing a lovely one-two with Massey the big man found clean through on goal, only to slice well wide of the target - although he still earned a standing ovation from three sides of the ground.

The only negative would have been the fact Latics hadn’t put the game to bed, and it almost came to bite them on the backside midway through the second period.

Latics couldn’t clear a rare Northampton corner, and Barnett lashed goalwards, forcing a superb save from Jones at point-blank range.

Paul Cook made three changes inside the last 15 minutes to try to add some legs, with Grigg, Massey and Roberts being replaced by Ivan Toney, Ryan Colclough and Max Power, who - after being booed on to the field by some sections of the crowd at the weekend - received a hugely positive round of applause.

There was still time for Town to threaten an equaliser in the dying seconds, with a dangerous cross being floated over and appearing to strike a Wigan hand, only for the referee to award a free-kick for a shirt-pull.

But Latics came within a coat of paint of doubling their lead with virtually the past kick when, after Jacobs had been halted, Morsy rounded the goalkeeper only to see his shot hit the post and roll across the line before being hacked away.