Wigan Athletic 1 Wimbledon 1

Wigan Athletic were thwarted in their attempts to secure the League One title with a game to spare with struggling AFC Wimbledon hanging on for a battling point.

Saturday, 28th April 2018, 6:10 pm
Updated Sunday, 29th April 2018, 4:41 pm
Michael Jacobs scores against Wimbledon

Latics fell behind on 24 minutes when Joe Pigott netted, and only a brilliant save from Christian Walton kept them within one goal at half-time.

The introduction of Nick Powell and James Vaughan off the bench on the hour mark helped to tip the balance Wigan’s way.

And Michael Jacobs found the equaliser with a left-foot strike with 21 minutes remaining.

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With Blackburn losing at Charlton, one more goal would have done it for Latics.

But first Ryan Colclough and then Will Grigg were denied in spectacular fashion by Dons goalkeeper George Long.

And Paul Cook’s men will have to wait until next weekend’s trip to Doncaster to complete the job.

Knowing the title was within touching distance, Latics were quickly out of the blocks and fashioned the opening chance inside five minutes.

Callum Elder crossed from the left, but Gary Roberts couldn’t keep his effort down.

The visitors then conceded a free-kick in dangerous territory, just outside the penalty area.

But Jacobs’ set-piece was too near to goalkeeper Long, who made a comfortable save.

Wimbledon were also in desperate need of points, with the threat of relegation still hanging over them despite a solid recent run.

And they shocked the hosts by taking the lead, somewhat against the run of play, just after the midway point in the first half.

Dan Burn jumped in to quell a Dons attack and didn’t quite get there, leave central defensive partner Chey Dunkley exposed.

Lyle Taylor picked the perfect moment to release Pigott, whose cool finish was too good for Walton.

It almost went from bad to worse within four minutes, with a Latics corner breaking down and quickly leading to a Dons counter-attack.

Dean Parrett cut in from the left wing, and his shot was bound for the top corner until it was diverted by the fingertips of Walton.

After stemming the bleeding, there was half a chance at the other end for Latics, with a great cross from Max Power being punched out by Long to Roberts.

The forward took on the bouncing ball, 30 yards out, head on but couldn’t keep his effort down.

Another Power corner then found Burn, who flicked the ball over his head in acrobatic fashion - but straight at the goalkeeper.

Wimbledon got to the interval without further alarm, but Latics soon picked up where they’d left off after the restart.

Jacobs crossed for Grigg to shoot over, before Colclough cut in only to fire high and wide.

Boss Cook elected to shuffle his pack just before the hour mark, withdrawing Power and Roberts and sending on Vaughan and Powell, who’d missed the previous three matches with a thigh strain.

And within 10 minutes, Latics were back on level terms, Jacobs wriggling through and then firing past the goalkeeper via a slight deflection.

Two minutes later, only a stupendous save from Long denied Colclough, who perhaps hit his volley from point-blank range too sweetly.

From the resulting corner, which was flicked on, Grigg then thought he’d put Latics ahead only for Long to pull off, if anything, an even better save.

Jamie Walker - watched on by 15 of his family members down from Edinburgh - appeared for the last nine minutes, with Colclough making way.

But Latics continued to bang their collective heads against a brick wall, with Vaughan denied what looked to be a stonewall penalty after being mugged as he tried to get on the end of a cross.

Then, in the closing stages, a Nathan Byrne cross was fumbled by Long, the ball bobbling towards his own goal, before the grateful goalkeeper got back to regather.