Wigan Athletic stunned Leeds United on Saturday, with Paul Cook’s side winning 1-0 at Elland Road to secure a second consecutive victory over the promotion-chasing Whites in West Yorkshire.
Both Wigan and Leeds have very different aspirations heading into the final four months of the season; for Cook and the Latics, survival is what they desire, but at Elland Road, there’s an expectancy to win promotion back to the Premier League.
That was the same when these two sides met last season, with Wigan and Gavin Massey delivering a blow that Leeds couldn’t recover from in April: 2-1 winners at Elland Road despite having 10-men and falling behind to Patrick Bamford’s opener.
And, history was repeating itself at Elland Road on Saturday, with Wigan edging past Leeds despite the home side’s dominance of possession and key chances.
The goal came via a Joe Williams corner, with the midfielder’s delivery striking Pablo Hernandez and looping over Kiko Casilla. Fortunate, yes, but just what Wigan needed to hang onto.
The final half-hour saw Leeds attempt to throw the kitchen sink at the Wigan backline, but they stood firm and Cedric Kipre was at the heart of an excellent defensive performance.
Of course, it was Kipre who was dismissed on Wigan’s last visit to Elland Road, after allegedly handling a goal-bound shot. His teammates dragged him out of trouble that afternoon, but he was repaying them with an exceptional performance over the weekend.
Here, we take a look at his outing in a little bit more detail:
Kipre completed 90 minutes at Elland Road, with his numbers backing up what was a mountain of an individual performance from the 23-year-old.
The former Motherwell defender won 75% of his defensive duels, alongside 100% of the aerial duels he competed in. Of course, Leeds don’t rely on their physicality in the air, but it only underlines the dominance of Kipre.
An impressive 10 interceptions were made, alongside seven clearances – the pick of which came as Leeds really looked to turn the screw late on; Kipre was on hand to clear from under his crossbar as Bamford lurked at the back post, before the centre-back denied the striker’s goal-bound header with a clearance on the line.
Those moments were big and came as the game became frantic late on, but a disciplined defensive performance is underlined by the single foul that the centre-back committed, despite Leeds putting him and his teammates under so much pressure.
It is that relentless pressure Leeds put on that leaves Kipre with some suspect passing statistics, with only 50% completed from the 12 he attempted. In comparison to Leeds’ centre-backs – Liam Cooper (58/65 at 89%) and Ben White (56/57 at 98%) – it proves just how dominant the home side were and why the bulk of the game was played in the Wigan half.
However, for Cook’s side, this wasn’t about a pretty passing display, it was backs against the wall defending and a smash-and-grab 1-0 win.
It was a similar story last season, with the 10-men of Wigan defying the odds to win at Elland Road and all-but secure their Championship status for another 12 months.
There were big celebrations in wake of that win and a similar scene was painted on Saturday afternoon. For Kipre, though, last season was bittersweet following his red-card, but this time out he was at the centre of the post-match celebrations as his teammates swamped him.
So, a familiar scenario for both Wigan and Leeds, but for Kipre: redemption.