Match report: Wigan Athletic 2 Ipswich Town 3 – McGoldrick nets late winner in rollercoaster match

Brett Pitman opens the scoring for Ipswich at Wigan from the penalty spot

Brett Pitman opens the scoring for Ipswich at Wigan from the penalty spot

David McGoldrick scored an 88th minute winner as Ipswich Town won a rollercoaster match in heavy fog at fellow Championship strugglers Wigan Athletic.

Airborne celebrations for Brett Pitman and Tom Lawrence as Ipswich take an early lead at Wigan

Airborne celebrations for Brett Pitman and Tom Lawrence as Ipswich take an early lead at Wigan

The Blues started superbly and took the lead through Brett Pitman’s controversial penalty (9), but were pegged back when Yanic Wildschut gobbled up a close-range rebound following a fine Bartosz Bialkowski save (35).

Second-bottom Wigan – who had failed to score in their previous five home outings – were completely dominant at the start of the second period and deservedly took the lead when left-winger Wildschut, who gave Luke Chambers a torrid time throughout, smashed an angled shot into the top corner (62).

It was one-way traffic in favour of the hosts, but Town hit back against the run of play when Pitman produced a clinical finish (68) following good hold-up play by substitute David McGoldrick in the box.

Town's Brett Pitman celebrates David McGoldrick's winner at Wigan on Saturday

Town's Brett Pitman celebrates David McGoldrick's winner at Wigan on Saturday

Wigan still looked the more likely to win it, but Mick McCarthy’s men kept looking to counter and snatched a vital three points when all three subs combined. Kevin Bru produced a fine raking pass, Grant Ward sent in a peach of a cross from the right and McGoldrick glanced a header in off the post.

The Blues move up to 15th in the Championship table ahead of the Boxing Day visit of Fulham.

Having named virtually the same starting XI for the previous four matches (bar one enforced change at left-back), Blues boss Mick McCarthy completely shuffled his pack in an attempt to find a spark.

Brett Pitman equalises for Ipswich at Wigan during the second half

Brett Pitman equalises for Ipswich at Wigan during the second half

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There were five changes to the team which lined up for the 2-1 Tuesday night defeat at Birmingham – the fit-again Jonas Knudsen came back in for the unfortunate Myles Kenlock at left-back, while Andre Dozzell, Freddie Sears, Jonny Williams and Brett Pitman replaced Jonathan Douglas, Grant Ward, David McGoldrick and Luke Varney.

There was a switch in formation too – 4-4-2 ditched for a variation on 4-3-3.

Wigan boss Warren Joyce, meanwhile, had to make three enforced changes to his team following Wednesday night’s 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle – two of them in defence. Craig Morgan, Luke Garbutt and Shaun MacDonald all dropped out, with Dan Burn, Andy Kellett and Jordi Gomez coming in.

David McGoldrick and Brett Pitman celebrate after scoring the winner at Wigan

David McGoldrick and Brett Pitman celebrate after scoring the winner at Wigan

Town flew out of the blocks and played with high intensity. A high group press forced Wigan’s much-changed backline into nervy mistakes, then, when they did turn over possession in the final third, the Blues looked to exchange short, sharp one-twos with intent to open up space.

It was clear McCarthy had taken the shackles off his players as the likes of Dozzell, Lawrence, Williams and Sears took risks on the ball, trusting their team-mates to be there backing them up if their directs runs didn’t come off.

It was one of those direct runs which led to Ipswich’s controversial ninth minute penalty opener. Lawrence drive at the heart of the home defence, but looked to be legally tackled by David Perkins just as he tried to skip into the box.

Town fans celebrate Brett Pitman's equaliser at Wigan on Saturday

Town fans celebrate Brett Pitman's equaliser at Wigan on Saturday

There was therefore a stunned silence around the DW Stadium when referee Keith Stroud blew his whistle and pointed to the spot, followed by owls of derision.

Pitman blanked it all out and emphatically found the bottom right corner with his spot-kick.

Wigan proceeded to fall to pieces at the back and made a string of unforced errors. Town were presented with a golden chance to score a killer second in the 12th minute when Stephen Warnock mis-controlled keeper Jussi Jasskelainen’s roll out, but Lawrence’s touch was too heavy after he pounced and the home keeper saved at his feet.

Brett Pitman celebrates opening the scoring for Ipswich at Wigan from the penalty spot

Brett Pitman celebrates opening the scoring for Ipswich at Wigan from the penalty spot

Wigan’s first sight of goal came in the 17th minute when Dan Burn flicked on a deep free-kick delivery. The flag was up but Bartosz Bialkowski didn’t know that when he made a superb close-range reaction stop from Wildschut.

Bialkowski was at it again in the 22nd minute when he saved bravely at the feet of Max Power following two mistakes by the Blues. First, Wilschut had nut-megged Luke Chambers on the flank, then Adam Webster sliced at the low cross.

Wigan continued to wobble at the back themselves though and it was Ipswich who remained very much on top.

Brett Pitman beats Jussi Jaaskelainen from the penalty spot at Wigan

Brett Pitman beats Jussi Jaaskelainen from the penalty spot at Wigan

Even so, the chances continued to go the home side’s way – generally from set-pieces or long balls into the area. One such deep diagonal was inadvertently flicked on by Christophe Berra, but Will Grigg couldn’t generate enough power on his far post header and Bialkowski comfortably saved.

The Latics equaliser arrived in the 35th minute after Williams committed a niggly foul on the edge of his own box. The first shot was blocked by the wall, but Sears then handled as he quickly tried to burst forwards.

The second free-kick was rolled to the side and Power hammered a shot through the wall to force a wonderful one-handed stop from the unsighted Bialkowski as he dived the other way. It wasn’t enough to prevent the alert Wildschut from gobbling up the rebound though.

Tom Lawrence collides with Wigan defender Dan Burn which gives Ipswich a fortuitous penalty during t

Tom Lawrence collides with Wigan defender Dan Burn which gives Ipswich a fortuitous penalty during the first half

That was Wigan’s first home goal in more than 480 minutes of football and it completely changed the mood. Moments later, Power drove from deep and hit a low, long-range shot which Bialkowski did well to turn around the post at full stretch.

It was Ipswich who finished the half on top though and they were left incensed by referee Stroud not awarding them another spot-kick in stoppage-time.

Following a scramble in the box, Williams rifled a shot against the right-hand upright before keeping the subsequent loose ball alive on the by-line. A subsequent header down in the area appeared to be handled by a defender lying prone on the floor, but Stroud – surrounded by incensed Blues players – waved away the protests.

The fog had risen to roof high just before kick-off but descended to pitch level at half-time became thicker and thicker.

Wigan were the team to start the second half far better in these conditions and it required Knudsen to hack the ball over his own bar following a slick home move down the left.

It increasingly became one-way traffic as the home side pressed to the beat of their fans’ constant drumming.

In the 58th minute, the inspired Bialkowski made another breathtaking one-handed reaction stop to somehow keep out a whipped goalbound cross that wrong-footed everyone in the box. He then got up sharp to stop Griggs’ follow-up header.

A minute later, it required a last-ditch sliding intervention from Berra to prevent Griggs turning home Wildschut’s dangerous delivery from the left.

It seemed only a matter of time before the breakthrough would come – and that moment arrived in the 62nd minute when Wildschut, who had been a constant menace down the left, powered his way inside and emphatically found the far top corner from the tightest of angles.

Wigan continued to press and almost scored again moments later when Jordi Gomez’s shot squirmed under Bialkowski, the Polish custodian recovering to dive on the loose ball inside his six-yard box.

The 68th minute equaliser therefore came from nowhere. Following Knudsen’s ball in, substitute David McGoldrick held the ball up superbly in a crowded box before picking out the late-arriving Pitman for a clinical finish.

Following a lull, Wigan gradually began to get back on top with Wildschut continually causing havoc down the left.

Chambers nervously headed one good delivery behind his own goal, then moments later was stood still as Wildschut set up Stephen Warnock for a shot that was well-blocked.

Town had looked to counter whenever possible and on a couple of occasions sub Grant Ward had failed to beat the first man with his cross from good positions.

The ex-Tottenham man finally got it right in the 88th minute as the Blues snatched an unlikely win. Kevin Bru’ fine switch led to his peach of a delivery which McGoldrick glanced in off the far post.

WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Warnock (cpt), Buxton, Burn, Kellett; Perkins (Byrne 72); Jacobs, Power, Gomez, Wildschut; Grigg.

Unused subs: Lavercombe, Davies, Burke, Barrigan, Stubbs, Le Fondre.

Booked: Kellett (45), Burn (45+), Jaaskelainen (45+)

IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Skuse, Dozzell (Bru 56); Sears (Ward 74), Williams (McGoldrick 56), Lawrence; Pitman.

Unused subs: Gerken, Kenlock, Douglas, Varney.

Booked: Pitman (13), Dozzell (16), Lawrence (90+)

Referee: Keith Stroud

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