Wigan Athletic 1 Shrewsbury 0

Alex Revell
Alex Revell

ALEX Revell opened his goalscoring account for Wigan Athletic in a hard-fought but ultimately deserved home victory over Shrewsbury.

The visitors made it as difficult for Latics as they could, refusing to sit back and watch their high-flying opponents play their normal game.

But Gary Caldwell’s men showed their mettle to dig in and underline their promotion credentials.

The only goal arrived nine minutes before half-time, with Revell - on loan from Cardiff - heading home from close range after good work down the left from Yanic Wildschut.

It was nearly 2-0 moments later when another cross from fellow loan star Wildschut was volleyed just wide by the recalled Tim Chow.

Latics were always in control but had to hang on towards the end as the visitors sensed an unlikely equaliser might be in the offing.

Jussi Jaaskelainen stood firm, though, to record a fifth home clean sheet on the bounce - a joint-stadium record.

The result sees Latics climb a place to fourth in the League One table, leapfrogging Burton - who are next up at the DW on Tuesday - to remain four points behind leaders Coventry.

It was far from their most convincing performance of the campaign, but Caldwell will be more than satisfied at seeing his men get the job done despite being far below their best.

In truth, neither side hit their straps in an opening half-hour almost completely devoid of any sort of quality or excitement.

On a freezing cold afternoon, Latics did little to warm the hearts of their fans in a low-key opening.

Wildschut’s lay-off to Max Power saw the midfielder fire high over the bar, before Latics were robbed of the services of in-form Michael Jacobs with only 14 minutes gone.

The ex-Wolves man succumbed to a knee injury and was replaced by Will Grigg, who joined Revell up top.

Jacobs wasn’t the only one in the wars early on, with the visitors doing their utmost to upset Latics with a series of rather robust challenges that were allowed to go unchecked by referee Darren Deadman.

When the official did eventually decide to reach for his notebook, it was to caution Chris McCann for simulation after the centre-back appeared to be clipped on the edge of the Town box.

Latics created their first real chance on the half-hour mark when Grigg’s cross was met by Reece James at the far post, although the left wing-back couldn’t get his effort on target.

Thankfully, Revell showed his team-mate how it’s done shortly after, heading home Wildschut’s inviting cross to put Latics ahead.

It could and perhaps should have been 2-0 moments later, after a delightful team move cut open the visitors’ defence.

Power sprayed the ball out to Wildschut, who skinned his full-back on the outside and crossed into the danger area.

Chow, pushing up from right wing-back, was first to the ball, but couldn’t steer his effort on target to the relief of the Shrewsbury supporters behind the goal.

The visitors showed for the first time just before the interval, but Larnell Cole’s shot from distance was helped round the post by goalkeeper Jaaskelainen.

Latics came quickly out of the blocks for the second half, and a lovely turn by Grigg deserved better than none of his team-mates busting a gut to get on the end of his cross.

Wildschut did equally well down the opposite flank, only for the delivery to again find no-man’s land instead of a blue-and-white shirt.

The Dutchman was seeing plenty of ball as usual, but from another opening he couldn’t keep his shot down and the ball flew into the South Stand.

Latics had a huge shout for a penalty turned down at the three-quarter mark when Grigg pounced on an underhit backpass, and appeared to be clipped by a Town defender.

The referee, though, had other ideas, and Latics were denied again seconds later when Donervon Daniels headed just wide from a corner when he will feel he should have done better.

Wigan’s inability to find a killer second goal was giving Shrewsbury more and more encouragement.

And the visitors thought they were in when James Collins’ volley was well saved by the diving Jaaskelainen, although the flag on the far side was up in any case.

Jaaskelainen was called into action again to deny Sullay Kaikai, who’d found himself free inside the penalty area and fired low towards the far post.

In an attempt to see the game out, Latics threw on Craig Davies and Jason Pearce for Revell and Chow.

And the home side finished the stronger, with McCann marauding forward and forcing a superb save out of Jayson Leutwiler, who also denied Power in the dying seconds.