Two early goals from Garath McCleary, and a second half penalty from Yann Kermogant ensured that Warren Joyce endured a difficult start as Wigan Athletic manager, in a disappointing defeat at the DW Stadium.
McCleary’s two goals came within the first five minutes of the contest, and in truth, Latics struggled to recover from the early sucker punches. There were some glimpses, including a spirited second half display by substitute Yanic Wildschut, but it was a day to forget for Joyce’s men.
Our new manager made two changes to the side which won at Cardiff last week, bringing in Adam Le Fondre and Max Power into the side in place of Will Grigg and Yanic Wildschut.
Prior to the game, there was an impeccable minute’s silence held at the DW Stadium in honour of Remembrance Sunday, which is taking place during the international break next week.
The match was soon underway, and it didn’t take long before there was drama, with the visitors ensuring that the Warren Joyce era got off to the worse possible start.
A defensive mix-up between Dan Burn and Adam Bogdan allowed Garath McCleary to put his side in front within 60 seconds, nipping in and lifting the ball over Bogdan and into the back of the net before he could gather.
Latics were shell shocked, and things got worse just four minutes later, as McCleary again showed more desire and doubled his side’s advantage. Joyce’s men failed to pick up the driving Liam Moore, who teed up McCleary on the edge of the area, and saw his team-mate guide the ball into the back of the net for the second time inside five minutes.
The atmosphere around the ground was understandably drained after the early goals, and Latics struggled to make an impact in a difficult first half.
Reece Burke did try his luck with a close range effort after a good move on nine minutes, but Reading were bossing the opening exchanges, and perhaps should have extended their lead on two occasions around the 20 minute mark through Yann Kermogant.
The first was unlucky not to go in, with the forward seeing his close range strike deflecting wide of Bogdan’s post. It won a corner, and Kermogant had another go, this time looping the ball onto the roof of the net.
Latics were trying to work their way into the game, but the chances were few and far between. Jordi Gomez was catching the eye, and tried his luck from the edge of the area on 34 minutes after a mazy run, but his effort wasn’t powerful enough to properly test Ali Al-Habsi.
The half-time whistle soon came, and Latics were left with a mountain to climb at the interval.
Warren Joyce will have liked to have held his first half-time team talk in easier circumstances, but wasn’t afraid of taking action, and introduced Yanic Wildschut in place of Jordi Gomez.
Despite conceding an early corner, the change seemed to have a positive impact, with his side starting the second half with more conviction than the first.
Latics were beginning to probe, and carved out an opportunity seven minutes in, when a Wildschut cross wasn’t properly dealt with, leading to a goal-mouth scramble. Jacobs tried an audacious back-heel, but the visitors were able to clear.
The improvement continued, and Le Fondre had Latics’ best chance of the game so far on the 58 minute mark, forcing a good save from Al-Habsi with his teasing effort from distance. The move continued, and the ball was eventually worked to Jake Buxton at the far post, who could only hit it straight at the ‘keeper.
Reading were continuing to look dangerous however, and put the game beyond doubt from the penalty spot just five minutes later, after Max Power was perhaps harshly judged to have fouled John Swift in the area. Yann Kermogant stepped up, and coolly guided the ball into the left side of the goal.
Joyce soon brought on striker Will Grigg from the bench, and the striker, along with Yanic Wildschut, showed sparks of making something happen for his side, but ultimately it was an afternoon to forget for Wigan Athletic.