Birmingham City 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Nick Powell's eighth goal of the season gave Wigan Athletic a 1-1 draw at Birmingham that hugely flattered the visitors - with teenagers Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir getting on for their first tastes of EFL action.

Saturday, 27th April 2019, 5:06 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th April 2019, 11:54 am
Nick Powell

On another day, Latics could and should have picked up all three points, with Joe Garner coming close on a few occasions for the visitors, who could easily have been awarded a couple of spot-kicks from the referee.

At the other end, Jamie Jones was a virtual spectator after conceding a goal inside two minutes, with Latics continuing their recent resurgence against a side that would have been pushing for the play-offs had they not been docked nine points for financial irregularities.

With safety assured - and Birmingham having little to play for either - Paul Cook made just the seven changes, with Reece James left out of the squad in the league for the first time all season.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

That meant recalls for Jones, Cedric Kipre, Darron Gibson, Powell, Josh Windass, Joe Garner and Jonas Olsson, who was given the captain's armband.

The Latics boss also took the opportunity to look to the future, with three members of the club's all-conquering Development Squad - Adam Long, Weir and Gelhardt - named on the bench.

Only Nathan Byrne, Chey Dunkley, Antonee Robinson and Lee Evans remained from the side that beat Preston on Monday, and all that upheaval had to have played a part in Latics falling behind inside two minutes.

Blues striker Lukas Jutkiewicz took delivery of a through ball and got goalside of Olsson far too easily, before sliding the ball under the advancing Jones with aplomb.

Despite winning at Leeds in their last away game, Latics still had the ignominy of boasting the worst record 'on the road' in the Championship.

But credit them for the way they reacted, totally dominating their hosts for the rest of the first half.

Garner came so close to an immediate equaliser when he headed against a post, with the ball rolling agonisingly along the goalline.

The Latics striker appeared to be about to follow-up and tap the ball home before being taken out from behind by a home defender.

Amazingly, the official waved play on - which angered Cook and Leam Richardson in the technical area, who took out their anger on the poor fourth official.

A Powell strike from distance forced a good save from Lee Camp, who also somehow managed to get a touch on to another effort from the Latics forward, to deflect the ball inches wide of the far post.

Garner fired wide from a Robinson cross, before Latics had another half a shout for a penalty.

Olsson this time got on the end of a deep cross and got his foot to the ball before being clattered by Camp, with the ball flying harmlessly over the top.

Anywhere else on the field and the referee's whistle surely would have gone, but this time the decision was only a goal-kick.

Latics came close again when Robinson's cross saw Powell produced a goalbound backheel that was blocked into path of Garner, who turned down the chance to shoot.

Instead, he took a touch that dummied the goalie, before sidefooting goalwards - only to direct it straight at the only defender on the line.

It looked like Latics would go into the break a goal behind, despite playing some really good stuff, only for Powell to restore parity with the last kick of the first period.

The home defence allowed him to shoot from 25 yards and, thanks to a slight deflection, the ball found its way into the bottom corner of Camp's net.

It was Powell's eighth goasl of the season, enough to edge him one clear of Garner at the top of the club charts.

Cook elected to change things at the interval, Windass and Kipre making way for Kal Naismith and Gelhardt, for the 16-year-old's EFL debut.

And the Young England star was straight into the game, sending his first effort straight at Camp, before beating two men in the blink of an eye and spreading play superbly.

A Garner flick from a Robinson cross trickled just wide of the far post, before a brilliant inswinging free-kick from Naismith took a touch off a defender and flew just past the far post.

With Birmingham producing very little at the other end, Cook decided to send another product of the club's Academy on for his league debut, with Jensen Weir taking over from Powell in the closing stages.

The change didn't please the outgoing Powell, who made his feelings known to the rest of the bench, but it was a first taste of league combat for Weir - and a real shot in the arm for the club's burgeoning Academy.