Wigan Athletic 3 Rotherham 2

Nick Powell
Nick Powell

Nick Powell popped up with a dramatic 96th-minute winner as Wigan Athletic kept alive their dreams of a Great Escape thanks to a 3-2 win over Rotherham.

Anything other than three points would have pretty much consigned Latics to the drop into League One along with the already-relegated Millers.

Paul Warne

Paul Warne

But Powell was in the right place at the right time to blast home a 20-yard free-kick with virtually the last kick of the game to give the home fans hope.

The free-kick had been awarded in controversial fashion, with Powell and Rotherham goalkeeper Lewis Price being involved in an altercation after the latter had launched forward a long kick downfield with only seconds to go.

Referee Scott Duncan, after consulting with his linesman and fourth official, booked both players before awarding Latics a free-kick in a dangerous area, with Powell exacting his revenge in the nick of time with a marvellous connection.

Rotherham had earlier held the lead on two occasions, thanks to Danny Ward and Anthony Forde, only for Gabriel Obertan and Alex Gilbey to get Latics back on level terms heading into the last quarter.

With results elsewhere going against them, Latics remain seven points adrift of safety and now only five games to go - but with a renewed sense of hope that they could get out of this situation.

Interim boss Barrow had sprung a major surprise an hour before kick-off by naming Powell on the bench for the first time after three months out with a hamstring problem.

He also dropped vice-captain Jake Buxton for the first time this season, with Matt Gilks also making way for on-loan Stoke goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard despite a brilliant display in the midweek defeat at Ipswich.

It was Haugaard’s first appearance for a couple of months, and he showed his ring-rust with a very nervy opening to the game.

After Michael Jacobs had been sent tumbling in the box inside two minutes, with the referee waving play on, Haugaard took far too long over a routine backpass from Jamie Hanson, and his attempted boot forward was charged down by the onrushing Ward.

The angle was against the striker, but he still might have done better instead of firing wide of an empty goal.

Max Power fired just wide at the other end, but the visitors - with only one away point on the board all season - were visibly growing into the game.

And they went ahead on the half-hour mark when, after Joe Newell wasted a great opportunity by firing weakly at Haugaard, a nice move down the right saw the ball played back to Ward, who converted well at the near post.

The goal brought about loud boos around the stadium from the home supporters who must have feared the worst, but credit Latics for the way they levelled within five minutes.

Good work from Gilbey and Ryan Colclough saw the ball find its way to Obertan inside the box, and the Frenchman blasted into the bottom corner to open his account for the club.

Rotherham held on to the interval, and came out for the second half looking the livelier of the two sides.

Latics sent on Sam Morsy for Power in the engine room, but the Millers deservedly regained the lead on the hour mark.

Again Haugaard was at fault, the goalkeeper somehow allowing Forde’s relatively straight-forward effort find its way into the net.

Haugaard made amends within seconds as he pulled off a breathtaking fingertip save to prevent Carlton Morris making it three.

And Latics took full advantage as Obertan spotted the unmarked Gilbey, who controlled and lifted the ball beyond Price and into the net.

Gilbey had a great chance to put Latics ahead for the first time only for Price to pull off a fine save, with Haugaard doing likewise at the other end to deny Ward, who simply had to score from bang in front.

That was the signal for Powell to emerge from the bench to take over from Gilbey for the final 16 minutes.

And there was a real end-to-end feel about the closing stages with a draw of no use to either side.

Powell was immediately involved, getting his head to a Hanson free-kick only for Price to divert the ball over the bar.

Hanson then crossed from the right only for Dan Burn - by this point playing as an emergency centre-forward - to fire over the top from inside the six-yard box.

It looked like it wasn’t going to be Wigan’s day when, as the clock ticked on to 90 minutes, Morsy saw two goalbound efforts hacked off the line by desperate defenders.

But with literally the last play of the game, Powell somehow engineered a free-kick opportunity on the edge of the box, before stepping up and smashing the ball past Price to lift the roof off the DW Stadium - and get the ‘Believe’ bus back on the road.