Wigan Athletic 3 Scunthorpe 3

Wigan Athletic left it late before substitute Gary Roberts popped up with an 87th-minute equaliser to rescue a point - but they lost ground on both Blackburn and Shrewsbury at the top of League One.

Saturday, 10th March 2018, 4:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 11th March 2018, 12:00 pm
Gary Roberts

Ivan Toney looked as though he’d become the latest in a long line of ex-Latics players to return to haunt their old club when he put Scunthorpe 3-2 up eight minutes into the second half with a cool finish, after Ryan Yates had hit the bar.

But Roberts made an immediate impact shortly after coming off the bench to ensure a share of the spoils.

Earlier, Latics had twice led before being pegged back in an enthralling first half low on real quality but high on excitement and chances.

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Chey Dunkley headed the home side in front on 13 minutes, meeting Max Power’s corner with a towering connection that was too good for former Latic Matt Gilks in the visitors’ goal.

But the lead only lasted three minutes, Tom Hopper forcing a brilliant save from Christian Walton and hitting the post from the rebound, before converting the third attempt from the cross back in with a neat header.

Will Grigg put Latics back in front with a deflected effort two minutes before half-time, before Hopper again levelled for the Iron in the second added minute of the first half with another quality header.

Despite a frantic finish, Latics couldn’t find a fourth goal that would have broken Scunthorpe hearts - and in the end it will be looked on as a decent point after a far-from-polished display.

It’s not as if Latics didn’t give themselves the perfect platform from which to build on last weekend’s battling 2-2 draw at leaders Blackburn.

Only 12 minutes had gone when Power sent over a delicious corner, and Dunkley rose far above Toney to head home into the roof of the net.

But the lead last only four minutes, with Hopper eventually finding the net after being denied first by Walton and then by the woodwork.

Latics then almost regained the lead in carbon-copy fashion to their opening goal, with Dunkley again getting his head to a Power corner, and this time sending it inches over the top.

Power, whose pinpoint delivery had been likened to England rugby union legend Jonny Wilkinson in the lead-up by his manager, was seeing plenty of the ball in good areas.

And another cracking cross somehow went all the way through the six-yard box without getting a decisive touch.

A Nick Powell shot from the edge of the area took a slight deflection, and looped invitingly into the arms of Gilks, before Latics did regain the lead through Grigg’s 18th goal of the season.

It was almost 3-1 before half-time, with Michael Jacobs trying his luck from 30 yards only for Gilks to superbly tip the ball round the post.

And the importance of the save was underlined seconds later at the other end, when Hopper scored his second goal to lock it up at 2-2.

Having been pegged back for a second time, Latics started the second period on the front foot, with Powell firing into the side-netting and a couple of Power corners having to be scrambled away by desperate defending.

But the home side were rocked on their heels on 53 minutes when, after Yates had seen his effort beat Walton but come back off the bar, Toney reacted quickest to convert from close range.

That brought about a double change for Latics, with Reece James and David Perkins being replaced by James Vaughan and Alex Bruce, whose appearance led to a switch to three at the back, with Jacobs now employed as left wing-back and Power also dropping deeper alongside Sam Morsy.

However, Scunthorpe remained a live threat, and only a timely intervention from Dan Burn prevented a Josh Morris cross reaching the unmarked Hopper.

As Latics got more desperate, Grigg pulled a shot just wide, immediately racing behind the goal to get the ball for the goal-kick.

The final throw of the dice was Jacobs off and Roberts on, and the veteran frontman made his presence felt within four minutes to level the scores.

However, despite five minutes of added time, the home side couldn’t quite manage another, and indeed were indebted to Burn at the back for being in the right place at the right time to deny Toney his chance to deliver a killer sucker punch.