Wigan Athletic recorded a shock win at Elland Road on Saturday, with Joe Williams’ deflected corner looping in for the game’s only goal.
The Latics came into this game in buoyant spirits after their hard-earned 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in midweek. Goals from Kieffer Moore and Jamal Lowe saw them clinch a vital three points to close the gap between themselves and the bottom three.
They entered the weekend looking to close this gap even further but faced a Leeds United side eager to build on their own midweek triumph and climb further clear of third place in the hunt for automatic promotion.
The game barely sprung into much life but Paul Cook’s side came out with maximum points after Joe Williams’ second-half corner deflected off Pablo Hernandez and into the goal at the far post.
With Wigan now just two points from safety, we take a look at three things we learnt about them in Saturday’s win…
It’s happened again
The game was set up to be a carbon copy of last year’s meeting at Elland Road with Leeds hugely fancied to get the all-important win and move closer to automatic promotion.
While last season’s clash was far closer to the finishing line than this game, there was a similar atmosphere around the ground that made a win for both sides massively important. The Latics came out with a huge win last season and did the same this term to push them towards safety, after Tuesday’s win.
Wigan’s overall performance was very similar and an immense effort to limit the hosts to very few opportunities after taking the lead, and it isn’t too much of a surprise to see Wigan produce another very solid effort against the Whites.
They looked balanced even without key players
The transfer deadline day was not kind to Wigan as they saw Josh Windass seal a loan move to Sheffield Wednesday and Antonee Robinson travel to Milan only for a dream move to AC Milan collapse at the last minute. Robinson remains a Wigan player but couldn’t play for them at the weekend with his head presumably being a mess, but they soldiered on without either.
Kieffer Moore started up front and Tom Pearce slotted in at left-back for Paul Cook and did their starting prospects no harm for the future. Moore was a crucial focal point all game and allowed Wigan to gain priceless territory as they looked to hold onto a slender lead.
Pearce came into this game lacking in confidence after his FA Cup own goal and was up against Helder Costa, but managed to do well to stifle his creativity out wide throughout the game, which will do him the world of good going forward.
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Survival is a real possibility
While the Latics remain in the bottom three, they have taken six points from two games against sides both looking at promotion this season, proving their Championship credentials.
The Latics face me tough games in their run-in and they will know that no game is a given three points but the confidence boost that this result will bring them is absolutely vital.
Wigan weren’t particularly great in their performance at Elland Road, but they rode their luck with the goal and defended immensely from thereon to earn three points, which they should now use as a springboard for their game against Preston next weekend and beyond.
Results like this could be a marker for Paul Cook and his side to put pressure on the teams above them and stake a claim to stay in the Championship beyond this season.