Ipswich Town 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Disappointment in the Latics defence after the winning goal at Ipswich
Disappointment in the Latics defence after the winning goal at Ipswich

Wigan Athletic gift-wrapped rock-bottom Ipswich Town their first home win of the season on a desperately disappointing pre-Christmas afternoon at Portman Road.

The visitors never got going at all, and Freddie Sears made them pay with the only goal midway through the second period.

Wigan couldn’t clear their lines from a corner, and Sears’ strike somehow eluded Christian Walton - via a wicked deflection off Lee Evans - and looped into the back of the net.

At the other end, Latics came closest when Reece James sent a vicious swerving strike from the edge of the area against the Town bar.

But Paul Cook’s men created very little else in the game, and can have few complaints at being sent home with nothing.

Town, kicking-off the day eight points adrift of safety with only a single win to their name all season, started the brighter and almost took the lead inside 10 minutes.

Jon Nolan and Jonas Knudsen combined well, and Walton had to scramble across his goal to push the ball behind for a corner.

Wigan’s first sight of goal ended frustratingly, as Josh Windass failed to test goalkeeper Dean Gerken or find strike-partner Will Grigg at the far post, dragging his effort in between the two options.

Windass and Grigg then agonsingly failed to get on the end of a teasing cross from right-back James, with the Town defence stretched.

Boosted by their let-off, Town ended the half well and Sears raced through the right channel only to blaze his shot miles over the bar.

The second period was similarly low on real quality, although that almost changed when James received the ball on the right-hand side of the Town box.

With little seemingly on, the on-loan Chelsea starlet unleashed a marvellous swerving, dipping effort that smacked against the bar and away to safety.

James Vaughan replaced Grigg on the hour mark, but the new man was still finding his feet when the home side found the lead.

In keeping with a poor game, the goal was right out of the bottom drawer, with Latics failing to clear their lines, and Sears’ shot heading straight at Walton before being flicked over his hands by the unfortunate Evans.

Latics sent on Joe Garner and Calllum McManaman, for Windass and Nathan Byrne, and the visitors threw everything at their hosts who, for one of the first times this season, had something to hold on to - and the tension inside the stadium was tangible.

Home hearts were in mouths when Gary Roberts was tripped right on the edge of the area - with the Latics players feeling it was inches inside.

The referee thought otherwise, and James fired the free-kick over the bar.

James did much better with a similar effort moments later, which Gerken tipped round the post at full stretch, but time was running out.

There was to be one last chance for Latics - who were given seven added minutes of hope by referee Scott Duncan.

But when a corner was half-cleared to Sam Morsy, who chipped it back in to the mixer, Cedric Kipre and Callum Connolly couldn’t get shots away - and Gerken dived on the loose ball.