Wigan Athletic


Watford were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Wigan Athletic at Vicarage Road, with James McClean’s header cancelling out Keinan Davis’ first-half opener and denying the Hornets back-to-back wins before the international break.

The Latics put in a stubborn defensive performance from the off and did their best to limit the number of home chances, but after João Pedro and Jeremy Ngakia threatened, Davis eventually made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time.

McClean’s leveller came just six minutes after the restart, and though Imrân Louza and substitute Britt Assombalonga kept the hosts pushing forward, they weren’t able to manufacture an all-important winner.

The result leaves the Golden Boys 10th in the Sky Bet Championship table as it stands, five points off the top six with eight games to play, and with a trip to fierce rivals Luton Town next up on Saturday April 1 (12.30pm KO).

Head Coach Chris Wilder stuck with the same XI that had triumphed over Birmingham City last time out (Tuesday March 14), and both teams enjoyed possession in the very early stages without creating any real clear-cut chances.

That all changed in the seventh minute when a misjudgement from Ryan Nyambe opened the door for João Pedro one-on-one, but having rounded goalkeeper Ben Amos the Boy from Brazil could only find the side netting with his shot.

After a lengthy break in play - that saw Charlie Hughes go down injured and eventually come off for Omar Rekik - Leandro Bacuna connected with a well-worked corner on the edge of the box, with his effort skewing narrowly wide.

By the midway point in the first half the Latics were camped deep in their own territory and were perhaps engaged in some time-wasting tactics, and though Ken Sema drove a teasing ball across goal, overall Watford were finding it difficult to create meaningful opportunities.

McClean did well to divert another Sema cross out for a corner, seconds after João Pedro’s shot was blocked by a blue and white wall, and then referee Graham Scott was tasked with calming the waters following a heated tussle in the away area involving Ryan Porteous.

With little under 10 minutes to go until the break, Ngakia went close to notching his first ever goal for the Golden Boys when he chested the ball down and volleyed narrowly past the upright from 20 yards.

Then, Louza flashed a first-time effort off target from similar range having been teed up by João Pedro from the left, before Danel Sinani failed in his attempt to test Daniel Bachmann at the other end in a rare Wigan chance.

Forward Davis was spared the embarrassment of scuffing a glaring headed chance when the offside flag went up in the 44th minute, but he quickly put that miss to the back of his mind by evading two Latics defenders, cutting onto his left foot and firing the hosts into a 1-0 lead.

The Hornets came out brightly for the start of the second 45, with the winning momentum in tow, but Wigan equalised against the run of play in the 51st minute when McClean rose highest to meet a Callum Lang cross, heading onto the bar and past Bachmann with his team’s first shot on target.

Louza led the home response with a neat effort well held by Amos in the 57th minute, before the Morocco international saw a driven shot from distance clatter off the post on the hour mark.

Mario Gaspar and midweek goalscorer Assombalonga were introduced by Wilder as part of a shape change with 25 minutes to go, but Watford were reminded of the visitors’ threat when a Sinani shot needed dealing with at close range.

Assombalonga drilled a shot over the bar and as the clock ticked towards the death Watford assumed the vast majority of possession, with away defenders Tendayi Darikwa and Rekik being called upon to clear the danger on several occasions.

Tempers flared as Wigan continued to wind the clock down - with Wilder’s name being added to the referee’s book - and though six minutes were added on to the 90 the men in yellow were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.


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