Rotherham 1 Wigan Athletic 3

Goals from Will Grigg, Alex Bruce and Michael Jacobs sent Wigan Athletic to the top of League One thanks to a 3-1 victory at play-off chasing Rotherham.

Saturday, 25th November 2017, 3:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 12:49 pm
Celebrations at Rotherham

And there’s no doubt Paul Cook’s men thoroughly deserve to be looking down on the rest after producing arguably their most complete performance of the season.

Latics were in front inside 14 minutes, when Grigg got across his marker at the near post to convert an inswinging free-kick from Lee Evans.

Credit to the Millers, they didn’t take it lying down and were level within two minutes.

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David Ball - who spent time on trial at Wigan in the summer of 2015 - received the ball through the left channel, and cut inside before curling a lovely shot beyond Jamie Jones into the top corner.

But the rest of the half was virtually all Latics as they laid siege to the home goal.

After several near-misses, they went back in front just before the half-hour mark, with centre-back Bruce - in for the suspended Dan Burn - controlling and hooking a lovely volley over his head and inside the post.

And it was game over on the hour mark when Grigg was foiled in his attempts to take it round the goalkeeper, only for the rebound to fall to Max Power and then Jacobs, who drilled into the back of the net with a fierce daisy-cutter.

With news filtering through of long-time leaders Shrewsbury losing at home to Bradford, it means Latics are now two points clear at the top after 19 games, and four clear of third-placed Scunthorpe - with a game in hand.

Last weekend’s shock home defeat to Bradford - and the murmurings of discontent from a section of the home support that followed - certainly seems a long time ago.

Not surprisingly, Cook kept faith with the side that got back on track in midweek against Doncaster, apart from Bruce in for Burn at the heart of the defence.

And Latics were quickly into their stride, with Reece James in particular giving the attack an added dimension down the left.

Rotherham striker Kieffer Moore - the division’s top scorer with 13 - headed over in the early stages.

But other than that the visitors looked by far the most likely to trouble the scorers.

It took only 14 minutes for that opening goal to come, with Grigg reacting quickest to get on the end of a fine free-kick delivery from Evans.

However, it was a lead that lasted less than two minutes, before Ball restored parity with a cracking goal that no goalkeeper in the league - or probably the country - would have kept out.

Latics didn’t let it affect them, though, and Chey Dunkley was almost on the end of a deep cross from left-back James shortly after.

The resulting corner was flapped at by the Millers goalkeeper, leading to a shooting chance for Ryan Colclough on his left foot, which finished high and wide.

Another fabulous cross from James narrowly failed to locate Colclough at the far post but, from the corner that followed, Evans’ header was cleared off the line by Lee Frecklington.

The ball was only half-cleared, though, and was hooked back for Bruce to notch his first goal for the club in spectacular fashion.

Rotherham were hanging on at this point, and were fortunate to avoid conceding what looked to be a stonewall penalty for handball just before the interval.

Latics were denied an even stronger penalty shout at the start of the second period, when Colclough was clearly clipped in the area as he bore in on goal, referee Sebastian Stockbridge again waving play on.

But the visitors were hammering on the door, and it was a no surprise when number three arrived on the hour mark.

Grigg tried to take it round the goalkeeper, only to be held up, but Power’s clever backheel allowed Jacobs to fire home low from 15 yards.

Rotherham rarely looked like pulling back a goal that would have made the final quarter a tense affair.

An Anthony Forde free-kick was always sailing over, Richard Wood was unable to reach a teasing cross from the right, and Moore headed well over from a great position.

While this was going on, Latics were making all three changes to rest some weary legs, with Ivan Toney, Gavin Massey and Gary Roberts replacing Grigg, Colclough and Jacobs.

And Toney came close to finding a fourth goal, only to direct his header, from James’ inch-perfect cross, just wide and into the side-netting.