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Wolves 0 Wigan Athletic 1 - Report and pictures

Sport | Published:

[gallery]A late Wigan winner stunned Molineux and gave the Latics all three points against disappointing Wolves.

Jake Buxton rose highest to head home an 88th minute winner and give the struggling side victory.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium for Paul Lambert's team who despite enjoying most of the possession couldn't find a breakthrough.

David Edwards came closest to scoring with a second half header that was expertly saved by Wigan keeper Matt Gilks.

Morgan Gibbs-White and Connor Ronan both made their Molineux debuts in a young line-up but Wolves, who also went close twice through Bright Enobakhare, couldn't find the back of the net and were made to pay.

Analysis

A total of 17,156 braved the cold and the wrath of their other halves to watch their true love Wolves play on Valentine's Day.

And a total of 17,156 probably wished they hadn't, writes Tim Spiers.

This was very much tough love from Paul Lambert's team. But the 'treat 'em mean keep 'em keen' approach doesn't really work with football supporters.

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Like a first date at McDonald's, Wolves were very underwhelming for long spells of this game.

The first half was reminscent of the dire nil-nils that defined the second half of last season. Wolves fans are used to that though - it's been almost a year since they won a midweek match at home.

They improved as the game went on and had most of the play, but as against Newcastle they lacked a cutting edge and were made to pay with a heartbreaker of a late winner.

Fortunately for Lambert's team, Blackburn's 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday means they're no closer to the bottom three.

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Many more performances and results like this and they soon will be.

Lambert sprang a couple of surprises with his team selection, handing a debut to Ben Marshall and a Molineux bow to Connor Ronan.

As expected Lee Evans replaced the concussed Jack Price in midfield, while Nouha Dicko dropped out of the squad altogether and there was a place on the bench for young striker Donovan Wilson for the first time.

Wigan brought in Will Grigg, who scored the late winner in the reverse fixture. Ex-Wolves man Michael Jacobs started in midfield.

With Wolves' position in the Championship table becoming precarious after three defeats in four matches, the fixture had been dubbed a 'must-win' against the struggling Latics.

But the way they took to the task in the first half, you'd have thought it was a pre-season friendly.

Wolves saw plenty of the ball but lacked fluency, tempo and ideas in a half of football that could be used as a dictionary example under the word 'drab'.

Ronan was the bright spot of the half, playing some piercing passes and showing good tenacity with a couple of strong tackles.

Bright Enobakhare showed good foot in and around the box and looked to take players on, but his end product left something to be desired, never more so than when he found himself on the left of the six-yard box only to fire into the side netting rather than pick out one of a number of team mates.

David Edwards had a shot blocked and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson sent a cross just ahead of the midfielder.

But that was about it. And with powder puff Wigan offering nothing in response the scoreline of 0-0 couldn't have been more befitting - the only Championship fixture of 11 played on Tuesday night that lacked a first-half goal.

A small and quiet crowd grew disgruntled, while Lambert threw his water bottle to the floor when an Evans pass went astray.

The angry boss, though, made no changes at half time and the slack passes and little creativity continued in the second half.

With no improvement he sent for Morgan Gibbs-White who made his Championship and Molineux debut, replacing Evans whose withdrawal was met with some sarcastic cheers.

Gibbs-White, who became Wolves' third teenager on the pitch, went wide left and Ronan to central midfield and Wolves went close soon after, with Enobakhare's perfect ball across the six-yard box crying out for a finish that never came.

With 20 minutes to go Wolves had upped the tempo and were doing most of the pressing. But, as against Newcastle, an end product was lacking.

That so nearly came when Edwards' header from a delightful Ronan free kick was kept out by Gilks.

The crowd were with Wolves now. Conor Coady replaced a not-fully-fit Marshall, whose debut could kindly be described as hit and miss.

Costa was the best bet for some magic and he teed up Enobakhare 18 yards out - but his shot was blazed over.

That was Enobakhare's last action of another promising performance with plenty of great footwork and awareness, with just that end product missing.

The latter could be said of the whole team, despite an improved second half. Andreas Weimann replaced Enobakhare in what was by now a very attacking line-up but Wolves couldn't produce that elusive moment of quality.

Wigan had barely threatened all night - but in the 88th minute they stole all three points.

Stearman conceded a corner and from that Jake Buxton rose highest to power a downward header into the bottom corner.

Wolves tried to respond - the impressive Ronan spanked a 30-yarder that was tipped over and Carl Ikeme came up for the resulting corner - but to no avail.

Key moments

65 - Helder Costa passes to Ben Marshall who plays through the back-line for Bright Enobakhare - he rolls the ball invitingly across the six-yard box but there's no one there to tap home.

75 - Connor Ronan's outswinging free kick is met from the right by David Edwards whose powerful header is saved at full stretch by Matt Gilks.

88 - GOAL - A right-wing corner is met by Jake Buxton whose header beats Carl Ikeme.

Teams

Wolves (4-2-3-1): Ikeme; Marshall (Coady, 76), Batth (c), Stearman, Doherty; Evans (Gibbs-White, 63), Edwards; Costa, Enobakhare (Weimann, 82), Ronan; Bodvarsson. Subs: Burgoyne, Williamson, Saville, Wilson.

Wigan (4-4-2): Gilks; Connolly, Buxton, Burn, Warnock (c); Power, Morsy, MacDonald, Jacobs (Hanson, 45); Grigg, Bogle (Obertan, 63). Subs: Jaaskelainen, Perkins, Tunnicliffe, Browne, Weir.

Goal: Buxton (88)

Attendance: 17,156 (261 Wigan fans)

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Position in the table

18th (35 points from 31 matches)

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