Swansea City 2 Wigan Athletic 2

Wigan Athletic couldn't make the most of a first-half brace from Joe Garner as they were pegged back by a late Swansea fightback at the Liberty Stadium.

Saturday, 29th December 2018, 4:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:53 am
Joe Garner nods home at the Liberty Stadium

Despite their wretched recent run of results, Paul Cook’s were positive from the off and thoroughly deserved their two-goal interval lead.

Garner netted the opening goal from the spot on nine minutes, after Kal Naismith was fouled, and the ex-PNE man doubled the lead before the break with a clinical header from Reece James’ corner.

Having been booed off at the interval by their own fans, Swansea were always going to come out all-guns blazing in the second period.

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Latics held out until the hour mark, when Dan Burn unfortunately put through his own net on his final appearance before joining Premier League Brighton.

And the home side rescued a point with nine minutes remaining, when Latics were unable to clear another corner and Swans skipper Mike van der Hoorn steered the ball past Christian Walton from close range.

It wasn’t quite the three points that would have provided a perfect end of year fillip to Cook and his players.

But there was enough in the way of positives to believe there is enough in the dressing room - with players still to come back from injury - to see out this winter of discontent and look forward with some degree of optimism.

Having failed to even score in their last four matches, Latics could not have got off to a better start.

Naimsith managed to get to the ball first inside the Swansea box before being tripped by Wayne Routledge.

Referee James Linington pointed to the spot, and Garner out-foxed Erwin Mulder from 12 yards to put Latics ahead.

It was only the striker’s second goal for Latics in 15 appearances, but served as a massive confidence booster to a side that had almost forgotten what it felt like to score a goal, never mind win a game.

Sam Morsy almost capitalised on a mix-up at the back, before Lee Evans put his left foot through a loose ball and watched it fade just wide of the far post.

At the other end, Daniel James got the better of James, only to fire straight at Walton.

But the visitors remained far more of a live threat, with Evans sending a near-post header from a James free-kick just wide.

Lovely stuff again from Latics saw Morsy and Evans get Naismith in, but Mulder was off his line in a hurry to smother the shot.

From the resulting corner, Chey Dunkley headed it goalwards and, although Burn couldn’t get there, Evans nipped in but saw his effort deflected wide.

And from a second set-piece in a row, Garner beat Dunkley to get his head on James’ delivery to double the lead with only 34 minutes gone.

It could and should have been 3-0 moments later, when Naismith raced clean through again, only to slide his shot past Mulder but also beyond the far post.

Swansea’s only response was a tame header from former Latics loanee Jay Fulton that Walton pouched easily, and the home side were booed off by a section of their support at the break.

Credit the home side, they did start the second period well, but Latics managed to keep them at arm’s length.

And the visitors were causing problems again as a James free-kick was parried back to the taker by Mulder, who was then grateful to see Dunkley head the subsequent cross wide.

Swansea did pull one back just before the hour mark, when Matt Grimes connected with a corner, and the ball went in off the unfortunate Burn.

Latics threw on fresh legs in the shape of Nathan Byrne and James Vaughan for James and Garner, but they were being pushed further and further back - despite their manager imploring them to get up the field from the technical area.

A stinging strike from Bersant Celina flew only just over Walton’s crossbar, before Latics made their third change, Callum Connolly for Darron Gibson.

But the Swansea pressure was becoming incessant, and the Latics defence cracked a second time with nine minutes to go.

Again the danger stemmed from a Swansea corner, which Van der Hoorn bundled in from close range past a helpless Walton.