Wigan Athletic




João Pedro’s late header earned Watford a deserved 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic on their first visit to the DW Stadium in over seven years, with Slaven Bilić’s charges recording successive Sky Bet Championship victories for the first time this season.

After a slow start on the road - on the back of last weekend’s thumping 4-0 win over Luton Town - the visitors asserted their authority and could have gone ahead when Ismaïla Sarr was denied on-one-one, though home No.10 Will Keane proved to be a thorn in the Hornets’ side on several occasions in the first 45.

Both teams enjoyed spells of possession following the restart, and after substitutes Samuel Kalu and Yáser Asprilla injected energy into the contest, the latter’s cross set up João Pedro to net his fourth goal of the season and clinch a crucial three points.

The win in the north-west pushes Watford up to seventh in the second-tier standings, ahead of a midweek trip to Cardiff City (Wednesday November 2, 7.45pm) where the Hornets will be looking to add to their encouraging winning momentum.

Head Coach Bilić made two changes to the XI that had triumphed over Luton, with Francisco Sierralta and Vakoun Bayo returning to the line-up in place of injured duo Craig Cathcart and Keinan Davis.

Following a tentative start to proceedings - during which both teams worked hard to gain a foothold in the contest - the first real chance fell to home striker Keane in the sixth minute, though his piercing shot from range was comfortably stopped by Daniel Bachmann.

Keane went close to notching the opener moments later, when he rose highest to meet an in-swinging free-kick but headed narrowly wide, and then Dan Gosling was required to block a dangerous James McClean drive on the bounce.

A marauding Hassane Kamara run yielded a free-kick in a dangerous position close to the quarter-of-an-hour mark, and in the aftermath of the set-piece Bayo headed over as the Hornets started to grow into the contest.

Some silky link-up play between João Pedro and Bayo served a signal of Watford’s increasing confidence, before Sarr saw an attempt from the edge of the area flash high past Jones’ upright.

A glorious Bayo backheel opened up a great opportunity for Sarr one-on-one, only for Jones to produce a smart save at point-blank range, and then Sema came close to finishing off another impressive move but rolled his shot wide.

The Golden Boys remained in the ascendency as the clock ticked past the 30-minute mark, but Keane reminded the visitors of his quality with a nice touch to open up a chance close to Bachmann’s goal, only for the ball to eventually evade the former Manchester United forward.

With five minutes left until the break, Keane again shot at goal after a swivel near the penalty spot, and then Sierralta earned the Hornets’ first yellow card for a cynical foul on Wigan livewire Keane.

Sarr went down under a challenge inside the box, but saw his penalty appeals waved away by referee Matthew Donohue, before the latter’s whistle brought the first half to a close with the game goalless.

Sema enjoyed the first clear-cut chance after the interval, but headed tamely into the ground at the back post, and the Swede was again involved when Bayo found himself one-one-one with home keeper Jones, before the offside flag was raised.

Some composed defending from Sierralta and William Troost-Ekong snuffed out any occasional threat from the Latics - with both teams continuing to battle to break the deadlock - and a couple of searching Watford crosses preceded the introduction of Samuel Kalu to the action in the 68th minute.

The Hornets faithful were dismayed to see referee Donohue refuse to award a penalty when substitute Asprilla was brought down in the penalty area, and the Colombia international was then instrumental in setting up a chance for Sarr that was brought to a halt by a strong challenge from Jack Whatmough.

Brilliant play from Kalu saw him twist and turn past several home defenders to win Watford a corner four minutes from time, and it wasn’t long before João Pedro rose highest to meet a teasing Asprilla cross and head the Hornets in front close to the death.

Despite the goal Watford weren’t high and dry, with seven minutes of injury time added on, and though the hosts saw a Whatmough header bounce off the crossbar in the last piece of match action, the stern backline successfully weathered the home side’s push up front to secure a crucial win in their hunt for promotion.


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