Wigan Athletic 0 Charlton 0

Wigan Athletic extended their lead at the top of League One to five points - but had to settle for a second stalemate at home in the space of three days with Charlton hanging on for a point.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29th December 2017, 9:19 pm
Updated Friday, 29th December 2017, 10:30 pm
Nick Powell
Nick Powell

Charlton, much the same as Shrewsbury on Boxing Day, sat off from the first minute, allowing Latics all the ball and challenging them to break them down.

And after banging in 11 goals in back-to-back away games at Wimbledon and Oxford just before Christmas, Latics drew a second successive blank as they lacked a cutting edge.

They came closest to forcing a winning goal in stoppage-time, with Sam Morsy’s 25-yard shot taking a deflection off a visiting defender and hitting the inside of the post, before being hacked to safety.

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But to be fair to Charlton - missing seven of their first-choice starting XI - it was they who created the two clearest chances of the night, only for Karlan Ahearne-Grant to fire just wide in either half.

On a freezing night at the DW, it was 20 minutes before the first chance of any note to either side, and it almost saw Latics take the lead.

A great cross from Lee Evans found Will Grigg who, as he was being fouled, saw his header fly into the turf and then over the bar.

Latics boss Paul Cook certainly thought it was a penalty, and he made no secret of his thoughts to fourth official Mr Merchant.

Possibly as a result of that incident, Cook was then treated to a visit and lecture in the technical area from referee Trevor Kettle, obviously to try to prevent things boiling over, and before Cook landed himself in hot water.

After things had cooled down, Latics threatened again on the half-hour mark, with Callum Elder’s cross being hooked into the path of Grigg by a home defender.

However, the striker was closed down before he could get his shot away, and it was an easy save for goalkeeper Ben Amos.

Another half-chance followed for Latics when Nathan Byrne’s cross found Nick Powell 12 yards out, only for the ex-Manchester United man to head not for goal but towards Gavin Massey.

Unfortunately, Massey didn’t read the situation, and the chance had gone.

Powell had an immediate opportunity to make amends, when an Evans free-kick was half-cleared into his path.

However, the snap-volley from 25 yards was arguably hit ‘too well’, flying straight down the throat of Amos, when a few yards either side might have brought about the opener.

After being content to soak up all the pressure for 44 minutes, Charlton threatened for the first time right as the interval approached.

Ahearne-Grant had the whole goal to aim at, but fired into the side-netting from 10 yards.

Latics came out early for the second half, but were unable to make the most of their early pressure.

An Evans corner was cleared to Morsy, but the skipper’s shot was never hard or accurate enough to trouble Amos.

At the other end, Ahmed Kashi lined up a free-kick for Charlton 25 yards out, but it was always too high to give Christian Walton his first involvement.

Latics made an unusually early change just before the hour mark, with Ivan Toney replacing Massey, and dropping in just behind Grigg.

There followed a chance at either end in the space of a minute, with both sides coming close to breaking the deadlock.

First, for Charlton, Ahearne-Grant rounded Walton and slid the ball goalwards, only for Dan Burn to get back and make a timely block.

Then, for Latics, Jacobs crossed from the left only for Powell to head inches wide.

Toney was putting himself about well, and his desire to chase a lost cause resulted in the ball flying out to Jacobs, whose shot was parried away by Amos.

The Charlton goalkeeper then flapped at a deep cross, under pressure from Evans, and would have been relieved to see one of his colleagues get back to block Grigg’s shot.

A Toney knockdown then fell kindly for Grigg, whose shot was snuffed out by Amos, before Latics went all in, Noel Hunt and Max Power joining the fray for Jacobs and Powell.

With the home side pushing for a late winner, they almost paid the ultimate price when Charlton countered, only for Ahearne-Grant to fire an inch wide of the far post.

But Latics came closer still in the first of five added minutes, with Morsy being denied a last-gasp winner by the width of a coat of paint.