Rovers suffered their first defeat of the 2020/21 campaign at the hands of Wigan Athletic with Joe Garner’s second half header the only thing that separated the two sides at the DW Stadium.
Darren Moore’s men had been the better side for much of the opening half with James Coppinger testing the keeper twice and they probably should have taken the lead when Reece James’ cross fell to Jon Taylor but the no.11 snatched his shot wide. Tyreece John-Jules could have given his side the lead just on half-time but Taylor’s floated ball in wouldn’t sit for him and his attempted half-volley didn’t trouble Jamie Jones.
The home side started to see more of the ball around the hour mark and Garner took their chance when it came. Joe Bursik pulled off a great stop to prevent Wigan from doubling their lead almost immediately.
Once ahead, resolute Wigan were able to slow down the match and the game petered out.
Darren Moore made one change to his side that defeated Bristol Rovers the week before. James Coppinger came in to replace the injured Jason Lokilo which opened up a space on the bench for youngster Lirak Hasani.
It was a scrappy opening 15 as both sides battled each other and the conditions. There were a few half chances for both sides with Rovers midfielders finding themselves in space at the top of the box on a few occasions. Taylor Richards’ effort from this area was straight at Jones while Madger Gomes dragged his shot wide.
At the other end, Gavin Massey went closest in the early exchanges, but his effort was blocked for a corner. There were plenty of cries for a penalty from the home side, but the referee wasn’t interested.
James Coppinger tested Wigan keeper James Jones twice in quick succession – the first from a trademark curling shot from the left and the second from close range after good link-up play between Jon Taylor and Tyreece John-Jules got the ball to him.
The second half of the 45 saw Rovers take a bit more control as they got to grips with the slippy pitch. Taylor and John-Jules continued to cause problems
Rovers’ best chance of the half undoubtedly fell to Taylor. Reece James’ tireless running down the left saw him get a good cross in. Taylor took a touch to easily dodge the challenge from the onrushing defender and leave him almost the whole goal to aim at. He snatched at his shot and sent it wide.
Taylor almost turned provider just on half time. He floated a delightful ball into the box but it wouldn’t sit for John-Jules whose attempted half-volley on the jump couldn’t do enough to trouble keeper Jones.
Rovers started the second half as they’d finished the first and it wasn’t long before Ben Whiteman was trying his luck from the edge of the box with one of his side footed efforts. He guided the ball over, while Brad Halliday’s effort was driven wide.
Despite Rovers’ dominance for much of the first hour, it was Wigan Athletic who took the lead.
The Latics started to get more of a foot in the match just before the hour mark and were able to capitalise skipper Joe Garner headed in from Viv Solomon-Otabor’s cross to put his side 1-0 up. The goal changed the rattled Rovers and the home side very nearly doubled their lead two minutes later at Garner turned provider sliding the ball through to Solomon-Otabor who was through one-on-one. Joe Bursik came off his line well to thwart the chance.
The introduction of Fejiri Okenabirhie brought a new dynamic to Rovers’ game and he intelligent running from the no.9 saw his have a few half-chances. One of these half-chances did lead to Okenabirhie being bundled over in the box but while the no.9 wanted a penalty none of the officials agreed.
The no.9 hit rattled the crossbar in the final moments when he connected with Taylor’s corner kick but the referee had spotted a foul by Cameron John in the build-up.
The home side displayed a lot of slowing the final stages of the game down and winning free-kicks and ultimately seeing out the match.