Wigan Athletic 1 Bristol City 0
What else did you think was going to happen on Nick Powell's 100th league appearance for Wigan Athletic?
Yep - there wasn’t really going to any other ending to this one as he struck early in the second half to give his side their second win this week and fire them up to third in the Championship - until at least tea time on Saturday.
This would have been enough for some fans to turn right after crossing the canal bridge after the final whistle for a few in town rather than carry on home, though Paul Cook will undoubtedly be telling everyone nothing has been won yet.
But after nine games most, if not all, Latics fans would have taken this return of 16 points, and it was clear even in the first half they would get something from the side which started the match three places above them in the Championship.
But those watching had to hang on until the 52nd minute, when Powell’s head got to Josh Windass’ cross giving Bristol City keeper Niki Maenpaa no chance whatsoever.
Cook started with changes from Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Hull, with Joe Garner starting in place of Will Grigg and James Vaughan out with a knock, and 19-year-old Leo Da Silva Lopes was named on the bench for the first time in a league match.
And the match took little time to warm-up as in the very first minute Jack Hunt decided the best way to stop Sam Morsy was to wrap his arms around the Wigan captain’s legs, and in a more dangerous position a couple of minutes later Tomas Kalas opted for the same method to stop Joe Garner.
Lee Evans was responsible for swinging in the delivery from the free kick near the touchline but it was a touch too deep for Powell to make use of.
And it was end-to-end stuff early on, with Bristol failing to make use of a chance handed to them from a mistake by Antonee Robinson. He let Andreas Weimann through on goal, but Cedric Kipre stepped in to extinguish the threat.
More realistic chances followed as Latics took control and chipped their way into Bristol territory.
Michael Jacobs had a shout for a penalty waved away as he weaved into the box looking for a shot, and 10 minutes later he had a go from distance, but his shot didn’t quite dip enough in time.
As the half hour approached Powell had a chance when constructive play in the box from Robinson and Evans allowed Windass to set the ball back, with the shot going wide, and three minutes later Powell was the threat again as he chased down a long ball from Morsy, only for no one to meet his low cross.
With 10 minutes to go until the break there was a great chance for Windass from a nice delivery from Jacobs, but they were still unable to break the deadlock before a nervy spell five minutes before the break.
Finally breaking into Latics territory, Bristol skipper Marlon Pack fired a cross intended for Famara Diedhiou, but Reece James managed to get there in time to ensure the damage was limited to a corner.
Fingernails were tested though as this led to a spell of three more corners in succession before the ball was safely in the hands of Christian Walton in what was the last real threat before fans could risk leaving their seats for half time pit stops.
Those who went for that option missed Garner land himself in the book as he clipped Adam Webster a touch too late.
The break didn’t harm Latics’ rhythm as they opened the second half with two free kicks, with the second from James provoking the bigger reaction of the two as Windass glanced the ball just over the bar with his header.
Things settled down a little after Windass put an effort wide as the hour approached, before hero Powell was replaced after his goal by Darron Gibson with 20 minutes to go, followed quickly by Garner making way for Callum Connolly.
There was a delay for a couple of minutes when Kalas and Marley Watkins clashed heads, and although both got up, a groggy Kalas had to go off with Nathan Baker coming on to replace him. And even though the stoppage didn’t disrupt Latics, there was tension given the slender lead.
In the final 20 minutes a nice move with Jacobs passing wide to Windass was pulled-up for offside, and Morsy pushed a shot wide while the away side occasionally made inroads to add to the tension.
That wasn’t helped when the board came up showing six added minutes, and Bristol’s response was to spring into life and cause all sorts of bother in the Laitcs box until Famara Diedhiou blasted the ball over Walton’s bar.
Cook brought Kal Naismith on for Jacobs and Bristol continued to push, with 10 of the Latics 11 by now camped behind the ball.
But despite what can only be described as a bombardment, Latics held on, for what felt like six months rather than six minutes, to make it a very good Friday evening.
Wigan Athletic: Walton; Robinson, Morsy, Windass, James, Jacobs, Kipre, Dunkley, Powell, Evans, Garner
Subs used: Gibson (for Powell 70) Connolly (for Garner 72), Naismith (for Jacobs 90)
Not used: Evans, Byrne, Roberts, Da Silva Lopes
Bristol City: Maenpaa; Webster, Brownhill, Diedhiou, Weimann, Kelly, Eliasson, Paterson, Pack, Kalas, Hunt
Subs used: Watkins (for Paterson 61), O’Dowda (for Eliasson 61) , Baker (for Kalas 76)
O’Leary, Da Silva, Taylor, Walsh