A brace from Troy Deeney was enough to consign Wigan Athletic to defeat against high flying Watford, in a wide open game of very few definitive chances.
The hosts had chances of their own, with Marc-Antoine Fortune and Sheyi Ojo going close, but Watford showed ruthlessness through Deeney, whose second half header and late penalty sealed Latics’ fate.
Wigan Athletic made just one change to the side which battled to an invaluable victory at Rotherham on Saturday, with Leon Clarke returning to the side in place of the suspended James McClean. Loan signings Jerome Sinclair and Josh Murphy were included on the bench after signing yesterday.
Latics made a solid start to the contest, and saw plenty of the ball early on, with wingers Jermaine Pennant and Sheyi Ojo again looking encouraging down the flanks.
It was a very open contest, but Wigan were the first side to create a serious opportunity in the tenth minute, when Gaetan Bong showed great tenacity to win the ball on the edge of the area, before sending his curling effort over the bar of Heurelho Gomes.
Watford threatened themselves six minutes later, when Adlene Guedioura broke and unleashed a fierce effort from range, which forced Ali Al-Habsi into a routine save.
Latics continued to have the upper hand early on though, and were unlucky not to take the lead just before the twenty minute mark, when Fortune set up Leon Clarke with a clever touch, only for a defender to block the striker’s shot.
The game started to really open up, and both sides almost took the lead within a minute of each other.
The first opportunity fell to the visitors on the 25 minute mark, when Ali Al-Habsi was required to make a great save to deny Troy Deeney, who met Hoban’s cross with an accurate header, only for the keeper to push it clear.
Latics broke, and had the ball in the net through Leon Clarke, who scurried clear of the visiting defence, only for referee David Coote to call the play back for offside.
Deeney continued to be Watford’s biggest threat, and the forward came close to putting Watford infront two minutes before the interval, when he again forced a good save from Al-Habsi with his header from close range.
Latics weren’t deterred however, and almost went into the interval ahead themselves with the best chance of the half two minutes later. Sheyi Ojo charged down the left and his ball found Fortune, whose effort was promptly denied by Gomes.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with both sides seeing plenty of the ball and looking dangerous going forward.
Wigan Athletic once again started brighter, and spurned a glorious opportunity to take the lead seven minutes into the restart through Sheyi Ojo.
Jermaine Pennant swung the ball in from the right which found Ojo, who charged into the area to meet the ball, only to mistime his first-time effort and send it hurtling over the crossbar.
It was to prove a frustrating period for Latics, as the visitors took the lead two minutes later through the talismanic Deeney.
Watford broke against the run of play, and Deeney beat Gaetan Bong to the ball at the far post to head the visitors in front against the run of play.
It was a particularly harsh turn of events for Malky Mackay’s men, who had looked promising in the opening few minutes of the second half.
Mackay took action, and introduced loan signing Josh Murphy in place of Jermaine Pennant.
Matters were almost made worse on the hour mark, when Watford again broke through Adlene Guedioura, who fired an effort just wide of the right post on the edge of the area.
It didn’t take long for Murphy to make an impact however, and the young midfielder caused problems for the Watford defence for the remainder of the night with his pace and enthusiasm.
Murphy soon orchestrated a chance when he was released on the right after 65 minutes and fed Perch, whose acrobatic effort went just wide of the left post.
The loan signing continued to catch the eye, and was unlucky to see his effort in the area blocked 18 minutes from time, after Fortune had put in good work to keep the ball in play on the left.
Watford began to turn the screw however, and almost doubled their lead fifteen minutes from time through Joel Ekstrand, who fired just wide of the left post from inside the area on the break.
The visitors started to see more and more of the ball, which frustrated Latics, who struggled to put together a definitive attacking move in the final few minutes of the game.
The players continued to put everything into the contest however, and could not be faulted for their effort.
This was typified by Emmerson Boyce, who again put his neck on the line for the club with a tremendous goal-line clearance to deny Guedioura’s deflected effort ten minutes from time.
Watford continued to show gritty resistance, and made sure of all three points in added time from the penalty spot through Troy Deeney, who blasted the ball home after substitute Fernando Forestieri was fouled in the area.
Latics pressed until the end, but could not find a breakthrough, and the visitors held on to seal all three points.