REPORT | WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 ARGYLE 1
Wigan Athletic 1
A fascinating game, full of tension, intrigue and quality ended in a 1-1 draw and a potentially massive point for Argyle’s play-off hopes, as well as Wigan’s automatic promotion dreams.
The stalemate was broken by Luke Jephcott just past the hour, reacting superbly to a rebound and the Pilgrims held that advantage for 11 minutes, but the Latics grabbed a draw with a low strike from Jack Whatmough.
Argyle boss Steven Schumacher made two changes from the Easter Monday draw with Sunderland. Ryan Broom came in for the injured Panutche Camara and Jephcott replaced Niall Ennis in attack.
The Latics made a bright start on a beautiful spring day, winning a couple of early corners, headed clear by Danny Mayor and Dan Scarr. The third set-piece found Jordan Cousins at the near post, but he was unable to keep the header won.
It was then all about Mike Cooper, who produced an incredible double save. A sweeping ball to the right wing was switched low by Tendayi Darikwa for Callum Lang in the box, but Cooper made a superb reaction save before, somehow, recovering to scoop the ball away just as Will Keane was about to slide in the opening goal.
Wigan maintained their attacking impetus with Max Power feeding Lang in the right channel, but his shot was dragged wide of the far post. In response, Steven Sessegnon surged forward for the Greens and fed Ryan Hardie, who saw his cutback for Jephcott scurried clear by the retreating Latics.
After a frenetic start from the hosts, the Pilgrims had done a fine job in calming the situation with some composed passing in midfield and a disciplined defensive shape. Cooper also played his part, punching clear yet another Wigan corner.
Terrific back-post defending from James Wilson prevented Tom Pearce from reaching a chipped cross, followed by a Power corner that curled beyond everyone and just beyond the far upright in the final act of a tight first period.
Argyle restarted with a Conor Grant cross just about cleared by Whatmough before Wigan won corner number nine inside 50 minutes, and for the ninth time, the Pilgrims dealt with the set-piece threat.
Power did find room for a header from Lang’s cross moments later but the effort was steered wide. Argyle replied with a decent spell of probing possession, Sessegnon and Broom looking particularly lively on the right.
Jordon Garrick for Hardie was the first Pilgrim change and he very nearly got on the end of a delicious Sessegnon cross just seconds after entering the fray. Garrick then won a free-kick in a dangerous position after being tugged back by Joe Bennett.
Grant took the free-kick with a curling effort that bounced in front of goalkeeper Ben Amos, who was unable to gather the ball and Jephcott pounced in typically predatory fashion to slam a confident finish into the gaping net.
Darikwa volleyed comfortably wide, as the Latics sought a swift leveller but Argyle were soon back up the other end, Garrick continuing his tremendous impact with a dangerous low cross that just eluded Jephcott.
Sessegnon and Broom then combined again, with the ball rolled back to Grant on the edge of the area for a shot that was too high to trouble Amos. Wigan returned the danger with a brace of dangerous crosses cleared by Scarr and Houghton.
Unfortunately, there was no stopping Wigan from the subsequent corner, as the ball bounced through to Whatmough, who guided a low shot through a sea of legs and beyond the stranded Cooper.
A nice exchange between Grant and Jephcott led to another Argyle free-kick within shooting range, but this one hit the wall, and Wigan broke at pace for a low Lang shot well saved by an alert Cooper.
Ennis replaced Jephcott for the final eight minutes but Wigan were the side on the attack, Lang with a shot deflected inches wide. Back to Argyle, and a deep corner from Grant found the head of Scarr, who clipped the top of the bar with a towering effort.
Game over and it all goes down to a momentous final day against MK Dons at Home Park.
Wigan Athletic (3-5-2): 12 Ben Amos; 15 Jason Kerr, 5 Jack Whatmough, 21 Joe Bennett; 27 Tendayi Darikwa (capt), 4 Tom Naylor, 8 Max Power, 6 Jordan Cousins, 3 Tom Pearce (11 Gavin Massey 90); 10 Will Keane, 19 Callum Lang. Substitutes: 1 James Jones (gk), 2 Kell Watts, 7 Gwion Edwards, 18 Graeme Shinnie, 28 Josh Magennis, 39 Stephen Humphrys.
Booked: Pearce 78, Keane 80
Argyle (3-5-2): 1 Mike Cooper; 5 James Wilson (capt), 6 Dan Scarr, 3 Macaulay Gillesphey; 17 Steven Sessegnon, 7 Ryan Broom, 4 Jordan Houghton, 10 Danny Mayor, 15 Conor Grant; 31 Luke Jephcott (11 Niall Ennis 82), 9 Ryan Hardie (14 Jordon Garrick 56). Substitutes: 25 Callum Burton (gk), 20 Adam Randell, 27 Ryan Law, 33 Romoney Crichlow, 36 Finley Craske.
Booked: Houghton 58
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge