Plymouth 1 Wigan Athletic 3
Goals from Will Grigg, Gavin Massey and Dan Burn gave Wigan Athletic a 3-1 victory at Plymouth that was by no means as comfortable as the scoreline would suggest.
But it was enough to extend Wigan’s lead at the top of League One to five points over both improving Blackburn and faltering Shrewsbury, who were held at home by Doncaster despite going 2-0 up.
Latics had to come from behind for their win, after Graham Carey opened the scoring for the home side on 27 minutes from the penalty spot.
The in-form playmaker kept his cool from 12 yards after being tripped in the area by Chey Dunkley.
While it was no more than Plymouth deserved for a positive start, Latics hauled themselves back on level terms within two minutes.
Nick Powell supplied the magic from the right, and Grigg toed the ball home from close range.
Latics then did well to withstand some concerted pressure from the home side, and shocked Home Park by taking the lead on the stroke of half-time.
After a Plymouth break broke down, Max Power carried the ball fully 50 yards before crossing for Massey to steer the ball home from 15 yards.
And the points were safe midway through the second period when Power’s pinpoint corner was headed home, via a slight deflection, by centre-back Burn.
The only disappointment was Latics failing to record man eighth league clean sheet on the road, which would have equalled a 15-year-old club record.
But manager Paul Cook will be more concerned with the bigger picture, and his side taking another significant step towards their goal of promotion.
After a really cagey opening to the game, Latics almost took the lead with their first attack.
A Power free-kick was met by the head of Dunkley, whose effort was only a yard off target.
The game then sparked into life with two goals in the space of two minutes, as Plymouth continued to ask more questions of Latics than most opposition sides this term.
But with the visiting defence successfully keeping the hosts at arm’s length, Latics showed exactly why they are top of the table by pulling off a classic counter right on half-time.
Power did all the donkey work by carrying the ball half the length of the pitch.
With Nathan Byrne screaming for the ball on the overlap, Power fooled the defence by rolling the ball inside to Massey, whose first-time shot found the bottom corner.
There was a bit of aggro as the players come off at half-time, with Latics assistant boss Leam Richardson involved along with Sam Morsy, who was involved in a long chat with the referee that resulted in his name being taken.
Latics made a change at the break, with goalscorer Grigg - a doubt in the lead-up with a thigh problem even before he reported ill on the eve of the game - making way for new signing James Vaughan.
The niggly nature of the game continued with Byrne and Vaughan being cautioned in the opening exchanges of the second period, before some football broke out, with Walton doing well to keep out a speculative effort from the impressive Carey.
There followed an unbelievable passage of play, as a Plymouth attack broke down, with Walton booting the ball downfield, setting up a two-on-two break.
Plymouth defender Gary Sawyer came across to snuff out the danger and, facing his own goal, he simply hoofed the ball away from Powell, only to look up and see it soaring over the head of his advancing goalkeeper.
Fortunately for Sawyer, the ball bounced over the bar and behind for a corner, with Powell giving the Plymouth skipper a consoling hug for good measure.
Credit to Plymouth, they kept on the front foot, with Walton pulling off a fine save to deny Antoni Sarcevic, who really should have done better moments later, only to fire well over.
And the home side were left to rue their missed chances, when Power’s corner was headed home by Burn as the game entered the final quarter.
Alex Bruce and Ryan Colclough took over for Powell and Massey to add some fresh legs to the Wigan side.
And the visitors held out without further fuss for another priceless three points to cement their position at the top.