Tranmere Rovers 1 Wigan Athletic 2

Goals from Will Grigg and substitute Jamie Walker gave Wigan Athletic a deserved 2-1 victory at League Two newcomers Tranmere Rovers in the first official hit-out of pre-season.

Saturday, 14th July 2018, 5:55 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:44 pm
Will Grigg opens the scoring at Tranmere

Latics took the lead with their first attack when Grigg was manhandled inside the penalty area for a stonewall spot-kick with barely 40 seconds gone.

The Northern Ireland striker duly picked himself up and slotted home the penalty with aplomb before the home side had even touched the ball.

Substitute Walker, who took over from Nick Powell at half-time, doubled the lead at the beginning of the second period with a tidy finish after being played through the middle.

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Tranmere pulled one back with three minutes to go through James Norwood, but Latics deserved to hang on for the win.

The downside was the sight of Max Power - stand-in skipper for the day on his return to Tranmere - limping off inside 15 minutes after receiving a knee to the lower back, but it’s not thought the injury is serious.

But at least that allowed Wales international Shaun MacDonald on to the field for the first time in 15 months after 15 months after recovering from a badly-broken leg.

And there were far more positives than negatives for boss Paul Cook to ponder ahead of the week-long warm-weather training camp in Spain.

Latics certainly couldn’t have got off to a better start, with Grigg opening the scoring before some of the crowd had found their seats.

The visitors did their best to allow their hosts back into it, Chey Dunkley putting far too much elevation and force than his backpass needed and being extremely fortunate to see it flash past Jamie Jones and behind for a corner.

Latics suffered a bigger setback when Power was unable to continue after an early challenge, but MacDonald quickly got himself into the game, heading narrowly wide from a nice corner from Michael Jacobs.

Sadly, that was about it for a first half that offered little in the way of further attacking threat to either goal.

Latics made a solitary change at the break, sending on Walker for Powell, who’d looked lively despite receiving some rough-house treatment from the Tranmere defence.

And the home side - fresh from three changes - hit the woodwork within six minutes of the restart when James Norwood blasted a right-foot strike off the outside of the post.

The visitors then got involved with the multiple changes familiar with this type of game, with James Vaughan being joined on the field by free agents James Perch and Ross Wallace, looking to earn a deal from either Latics or perhaps somewhere else.

There soon followed another series of additions - Leo Da Silva Lopes, Jensen Weir, Tylor Golden, Dan Lavercombe, Joe Gelhardt - the latter who narrowly failed to convert a glorious opportunity within moments of his arrival.

All thoughts this was a pre-season fitness test were dismissed when Vaughan and home skipper Steve McNulty were involved with a couple of incidents in the air that the Latics man certainly felt he’d been the wronged party...the second of which saw players from both sides racing to get involved as tempers frayed.

When the football finally resumed, Norwood had a shot parried by Lavercombe, before Gordon - after lovely footwork - fired just over the bar at the other end.

The home side eventually pulled one back with three minutes remaining when Ben Tollitt’s cross was nodded home by Norwood.

But the full-time whistle went shortly after to ensure Latics kick-off their preparations for 2018-19 in winning style.

Latics: Jones; James, Dunkley, Bruce, Byrne; Power, Gibson; Massey, Powell, Jacobs; Grigg.

Subs: Lavercombe (for Jones), Perch (for Bruce), Lopes (for James), Walker (for Powell), Wallace (for Massey), Vaughan (for Grigg), Golden (for Byrne), Weir (for Gibson), Gelhardt (for Jacobs), MacDonald (for Power).