Goals from Andy Kellett, Jordy Hiwula and Michael Jacobs sealed a convincing win in Latics’ first visit to the Highbury Stadium since non-league days, putting Gary Caldwell’s Latics back up to 5th place after the enforced break on Boxing Day.
Andy Kellett had put Latics ahead before the break with a fine solo effort before Antoni Sarcevic equalised from the penalty spot in the second half after Latics twice hit the bar and were not able to turn their dominance into goals.
But they found an extra gear in the final fifteen minutes with the introduction of Yanic Wildschut and Jordy Hiwula and were finally able to underline their superiority with the goals that ensured the points would be heading back to the DW Stadium.
Latics went into the game unchanged from the win at Barnsley, only Chris McCann and Haris Vuckic replacing Tim Chow and the departed Alex Revell on the bench.
After a cagey start in which both teams had chances, Latics gradually took control of the game in the first half, eventually breaking through with Kellett’s goal.
Latics were first to show. Kellett went down in the box in the opening minute under a challenge, with nothing given. Will Grigg was fouled a minute later by Joe Davis on the right hand side and Kellett swung in a dangerous ball that whistled through a crowded area.
Fleetwood responded with a few dangerous balls of their own before Latics went close again, Donervon Daniels’ looping effort from the right almost deceiving Town keeper Chris Maxwell at his far post. Jussi Jaaskelainen then had to beast away Nick Haughton’s corner on 25 minutes as the hosts threatened but Latics dominated virtually the entirety of the remaining minutes before the break.
Max Power just failed to find Kellett with a piercing pass through the middle but did find Grigg with a similar ball on 33 minutes , who broke clear but Maxwell spread himself well to block the shot, the ball diverted to Love whose shot was diverted for a corner – two real chance spurned in seconds but the breakthrough finally came on 39 minutes, and it was Kellett who started and finished the move.
First he dispossessed Amari’i Bell on the right hand side and carried the ball toward goal, dropping his shoulder as he reached the edge of the box and shooting low with his left foot wide of Maxwell’s outstretched left arm. Maxwell got a hand to the ball but wasn’t able to prevent it from hitting the back of the net.
Jacobs stung Maxwell’s hands again two minutes later as Latics as Latics looked to underline their dominance with a second before the break.
Grigg twice forced a save saves inside the first five minutes of the second half before David had to clear a Power free-kick just in front of Maxwell. From the resultant corner, Power found Daniels at the far post and Maxwell tipped his header on to the bar, Jacobs’ attempted a spectacular follow up with a scissor kick but the connection wasn’t strong and it was cleared.
Jimmy Ryan was booked for bringing down Jacobs after an hour on the left, and Power smashed the free-kick against the crossbar.
McCann replaced Love after 67 minutes but Latics immediately concede the equaliser, Daniels pulling down David Ball and Antoni Sarcevic smashing home the penalty.
Jacobs immediately won a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Power blasted over the bar.
Jaaskelainen was forced into a fingertip save from Ashley Hunter’s shot from the edge of the box, then had to save from Tariqe Fosu as suddenly Fleetwood built a head of steam.
Wildschut and Hiwula were introduced in the 78th minute in place of Kellett and Reece James. Would Latics be able to finish off all their good work from earlier with a strong finish.
Wildschut immediately found himself free in front of goal from Jacobs’ pass, but failed to connect.
Latics had found their momentum again and piled on pressure. McCann brilliantly won possession on the edge of the box after 83 minutes, and saw his shot blocked only to regain possession and feed Wildschut on the left. The Dutchman powerfully cut in and drove in a shot which Maxwell saved but could only parry to the feet of Hiwula and he fired home, right in front of the jubilant Latics support.
Craig Morgan was forced into a brilliant tackle as Fleetwood tried to retaliate immediately, then Conor McLaughlin spurned an opportunity at the far post after a goalmouth scramble, firing into the side netting.
As we entered into five additional minutes, tempers were becoming frayed as the tension mounted. Wildschut drove into the box again and found Jacobs, but he shot over. He made no mistake two minutes later when goalscorer Hiwula turned provider, sending him clear and he fired past Maxwell to make sure of the points.