Wigan Athletic 3 Scunthorpe 0

Reece James
Reece James

WIGAN Athletic finally got their campaign up and running - and how - with a 3-0 demolition of Scunthorpe at the DW.

Gary Caldwell’s men had suffered a stuttering start to the season, understandably so after so many comings-and-goings during the summer.

But the Scot has remained steadfast in his belief that his new-look squad of players would prove up to the huge challenge before them this term.

And during as one-sided an encounter as could be imagined, Caldwell’s ‘Class of 15’ came of age and sent out a real statement of intent to the rest of League One.

Will Grigg’s third-minute opener from the penalty spot gave them the perfect start, and they simply never looked back.

Donervon Daniels made it 2-0 just before the half-hour mark with a cool, calm and collected finish from eight yards.

And striker Craig Davies - making his first start for the club - added a third goal, that his overall display undoubtedly merited, with 20 minutes to go.

Davies also saw a first-half shot brilliantly saved by Iron goalkeeper Joe Anyon, who could only look on in hope as Michael Jacobs volleyed the rebound against the crossbar and away to safety.

In fact, the only minor criticism was that Latics didn’t score even more goals having played do well across the park - from Rich O’Donnell, who secured a second successive shot-out, to the tireless Grigg and Davies up top.

Grigg’s early opener - his second penalty success of the season - set the tone for what followed.

It was the former Brentford man who won the spot-kick himself, his impressive movement creating a clear shooting chance before his shirt was hauled back by Jack King for a stonewall penalty.

Referee Andrew Madley pointed straight to the spot, and Grigg sent goalkeeper Anyon the wrong way from 12 yards.

After two defeats and a draw so far, the relief inside the DW Stadium was tangible - and the home side immediately went in search of a second goal.

Jacobs was pulled down 10 yards outside the box as he shaped to shoot, but his free-kick was directed straight in to the goalkeeper’s waiting arms.

At the other end, Scunthorpe briefly threatened when Paddy Madden dragged his shot well wide.

But that was the only sight of goal the visitors had in the entire game as Latics played some champagne stuff, which the home fans positively lapped up.

David Perkins was pulling the strings alongside Francisco Junior in the engine room, Jacobs was his usual bright and breezy self in a free role, and the front two were working remarkably well in tandem considering their lack of game-time together.

Anyon had to race off his line to dispossess Davies as he broke down the right channel, where Jonjoe Kenny was also getting forward at every opportunity.

Latics were also making inroads down the left, with nice interplay between Jacobs and Reece James almost getting the full-back in round the back.

All the pressure had to tell, and the Scunthorpe rearguard cracked again just before the half-hour mark.

After a scramble inside the visitors’ box, the defence couldn’t clear and Daniels slotted home with the composure of a centre-forward rather than a centre-half.

It was the first time Latics had opened-up a two goal lead in a game for fully six months, and the players were visibly growing in confidence with each passing minute.

Although, it didn’t lead to a goal, Wigan’s next passage of play brought about a round of applause from the home fans that said everything about how they were enjoying the ‘New Era’.

O’Donnell kicked things off at the back and, via Craig Morgan, Daniels, Francisco Junior and Davies, full-back James narrowly failed to get on the end of what would surely have been a contender for goal of the season.

Latics came closer still to a third goal on the stroke of half-time when Davies cut in off the right and unleashed a left-foot shot that was superbly parried by the over-worked goalkeeper.

The rebound fell straight to Jacobs, whose acrobatic volley unfortunately found the bar rather than the back of the net.

A third goal would have been the least Latics warranted for a thoroughly dominant 45, and the standing ovation they received from the home fans at the interval was the least they deserved.

Latics duly picked up where they left off after the break with Francisco rampaging through the middle, only to see his speculative shot fly just over the bar.

While Scunthorpe never gave up the ghost, they never looked remotely capable of pulling back a goal that would at least made the final quarter vaguely close to a contest.

And after sustained possession and patient build-up, Latics eventually put their visitors out of their misery with number three on 70 minutes.

Grigg was the architect with a quite sublime through ball with the outside of his boot that sent strike partner Davies racing through one-on-one.

The ex-Bolton man took an assured touch before smashing the ball past the advancing Anyon and into the back of the net.

And the way the whole team mobbed the goalscorer in front of the South Stand - after a year of almost total doom and gloom at the club - was a real joy to see.

Davies and Jacobs were replaced by Shaq Coulthirst and Sean Murray for the final stages, both to rapturous receptions.

And it could have been even worse for Scunthorpe, had the linesman on the near side not bailed them out in the closing stages with Latics pushing for a fourth.

Grigg appeared to do little wrong as he harried and eventually dispossessed the last defender, before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home - only to turn a see the flag up or a foul.

It was a rare moment of frustration on a long-overdue night to remember.

Latics: O’Donnell; Daniels, Morgan, McCann; Kenny, Francisco, Perkins, James; Jacobs; Davies, Grigg.

Subs: Jaaskelainen, McNaughton, Barnett, Flores, Murray (for Jacobs, 76), Power (for Francisco, 85), Coulthirst (for Davies, 73).

Scunthorpe: Anyon; Wiseman, Mirfin, Clarke, King, Laird; Bishop, Ness, Dawson; Hopper, Maddem.

Subs: Watson, McAllister (for Ness, 46), Van Veen (for Dawson, 76), Henderson, Adelakun (for Wiseman, 46), Goode, McSheffrey.

Referee: Andrew Madley

Attendance: 7,794 (609 from Scunthorpe)