Wigan Athletic 1 Rotherham 0

James Vaughan
James Vaughan

Substitute James Vaughan scored the only goal as Wigan Athletic signed off for the international break in the lofty heights of eighth place in the Championship after a 1-0 victory over Rotherham.

Despite dominating for long periods, Latics were made to wait until the 73rd minute to break through a resolute Millers rearguard.

Having sent on Vaughan and Callum McManaman on the hour mark for Will Grigg and Nick Powell, boss Paul Cook watched both replacements combine in perfect fashion.

McManaman it was who, after cutting in from the left wing, saw a fierce shot parried out by Rotherham goalkeeper Marek Rodak.

But Vaughan was on hand to win the race between several defenders and attackers to get a toe to the loose ball and force it over the line.

At the other end, Christian Walton was a virtual spectator as the Latics defence formed a barrier that the plucky yet limited Millers could not break through.

Latics are now just four points off the summit, with three wins, a draw and only two defeats from their opening half-a-dozen matches.

And Cook will be hoping to take advantage of a fortnight’s break from the action to further gel his new-look squad together.

Having made two changes to his starting line-up following the defeat at QPR - Reece James and Callum Connolly back in Gavin Massey and Nathan Byrne - the Latics boss saw his side quickly settle into the stride.

Wigan-born Jon Taylor was booked in the opening skirmishes for taking down Antonee Robinson in full flow, with Chey Dunkley heading Lee Evans’ free-kick straight at Rodak in the Rotherham goal.

Robinson was enjoying plenty of joy early doors, and one long-distance charge led to a teasing cross that Grigg would surely have tapped home had it not been intercepted in the nick of time.

Evans again sent in a cracking set-piece delivery from the corner, but Connolly couldn’t head on target at the near post.

Josh Windass - making his home debut - sent a free-kick curling just wide, before attempting to help on a shot from Powell, which also missed the goal.

Powell was claiming a penalty as the break approached after being barged off the ball at the far post, but referee Scott Duncan remained unmoved.

And Latics suffered further frustration moments later with Grigg steering the ball agonisingly wide after Connolly had nodded an Evans cross back into the danger zone.

Having offered nothing all half, Rotherham regrouped at the interval and immediately showed up within moments of the restart.

Michael Smith got a touch on a hopeful free-kick, which fortunately for the home side went straight at Walton.

Latics continued to bang their collective heads against a brick wall, and Cook’s bold move to change things was to withdraw Grigg and Powell on the hour mark and send on McManaman and Vaughan.

Both men were immediately involved, with Vaughan only just unable to get his toe to a fine cross from full-back James, and McManaman being denied by Rodak, who had only parried a shot from Connolly.

Sensing there might be something for them, Rotherham upped the ante and Kyle Vassell came within inches of finding the top corner from 25 yards, with Walton at full stretch but probably not getting there.

Walton did well to deny Smith and Ryan Williams with good saves, before Latics found the winner they’ll feel their overall dominance warranted.

McManaman engineered the opportunity by drifting in from the left-hand side, and unleashing a shot that was too hot for Rodak to collect.

The ball rebounded out into the six-yard box, and Vaughan was first to react as he stabbed the ball home past the helpless goalkeeper - before treating the crowd to his customary celebration of kung-fu kicking the corner flag.