Wigan Athletic 1 Rochdale 0

Michael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs
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Captain-for-the-day Michael Jacobs scored the only goal inside 12 minutes as Wigan Athletic got their promotion push back on track with a narrow victory over bottom-of-the-league Rochdale.

Both sides came into the game on the back of FA Cup heroics, Latics knocking out Manchester City and Rochdale securing a replay against Tottenham next week.

And it was Latics who managed to take the spoils - although the result was in doubt right to the end.

Had Max Power’s second-half free-kick found the top corner instead of the crossbar, the Latics fans would have been saved a nervy finale.

And Dale were left to rue several missed chances - namely from skipper Ian Henderson - as they left with nothing.

Having lost their last two matches in League One - which allowed Blackburn and Shrewsbury to overtake them - Latics would have been praying for an early goal.

That duly arrived from their first real sight at goal, with Jacobs - one of seven changes to the team that beat City five days earlier - firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

As Rochdale tried to stay in the game, James Vaughan might have made it 2-0 when he was picked out at the back post by Dan Burn, only to nod well over the bar.

Winger Jamie Walker - making his full debut - was in lively mood, and he cut in from the left before forcing a fine save from goalkeeper Josh Lillis.

At the other end, Henderson ought to have levelled the scores eight minutes before half-time, only to fire wastefully wide with only Christian Walton to beat.

Within seconds of almost being pegged back, Latics then fluffed a great chance to go 2-0 up.

Walker was set free down the middle but, after rounding Lillis, he found he’d taken the ball too wide, and the shot was well off target.

Latics started the second half in similar fashion to the first, with another left-foot shot from Jacobs forcing a brilliant save from Lillis.

Vaughan might have done better with a flick header that was directed straight at the goalkeeper, but Rochdale remained a threat on the counter.

Just before the hour mark, Henderson again found himself in on goal, but his free header was way over the top.

Latics sent on David Perkins and Gavin Massey for the last half-an-hour, with Walker and Ryan Colclough making way, but still the second goal - which would have put Rochdale out of their misery - proved elusive.

And after failing to clear a free-kick, Latics were indebted to centre-back Burn for getting a long leg to the ball when it looked like Matty Done was going to slide the ball home.

Massey’s fresh legs saw him gallop 70 yards downfield before waiting for support from Power, who could only fire into the South Stand.

The midfielder came much closer with 12 minutes left, when he lined up a free-kick from the edge of the area, only to see it smack the bar and away rather than nestle in the top corner.

With Will Grigg on for Vaughan, Latics continued to push forward in search of a second goal, and they were almost pegged back in the very last minute.

Thankfully, Scott Wiseman sent a free header wide of the post, and the points remained at the DW.