Latics were not able to turn dominance into three points as Reece Wabara’s first goal in Latics colours earned a draw at the Alexandra Stadium which moved Gary Caldwell’s men into fourth place of the Sky Bet League One table.
In terms of effort and application, it was hard to criticise the performance, Latics poured forward in numbers, created numerous chances and worked tirelessly to regain possession when the ball was lost. It was just a little bit of poise in the final third which prevented the victory. Praise to to the excellent Ben Garratt in the Crewe goal who pulled off a string of fine saves, especially in the second half.
Yanic Wildschut struck a post and there were late calls for a penalty as substitute Craig Davies appeared to be brought down in the box but in the end, Latics had to make do with a point.
Caldwell made two changes from last Saturday’s victory over Chesterfield, recalling Wildschut and Chris McCann in place of Haris Vuckic and the injured Reece James.
Latics went in at the break level after an eventful first half in which they created plenty but were only able to convert one of them, before being hit by a late sucker punch.
Latics dominated the early stages but had Jussi Jaaskelainen to thank when Ryan Colclough found a way to shoot from an angle after 12 minutes.
Two minutes later and Latics did made the breakthrough.
Wabara started and finished the move, feeding Max Power on his outside, he cut in, rode one challenge before giving the ball back to Wabara who smashed it home from 20 yards – what a way to open his account for the club.
Latics continued to dominate and create chances. Jordy Hiwula got a toe to McCann’s left wing cross after 21 minutes, but Ben Garratt was able to smother it on the line. Michael Jacobs then floated in a free-kick after Wildschut was fouled by David Fox on the edge of the box, but Garratt saved again. Wildschut then powered into the box only to see one shot saved by Garratt and, picking up the loose ball, a second effort was blocked by a desperate Crewe tackle.
Latics suffered an early injury blow when Jacobs was stretchered off after half an hour and he was replaced by Vuckic.
Latics still looked the most likely to score but having been so dominant, they were hit on the break two minutes before the break when an attack broke down and Bradden Inman found space to shoot powerfully into the top corner, giving Jaaskelainen no chance. Crewe had suddenly found an extra gear and Colclough rattled the crossbar with a brilliant effort from outside the box a minute later, although Jaaskelainen may have got fingertips to the ball.
Latics threatened inside the first minute of the restart, Vuckic breaking through on the left but Power wasn’t able to get any true connection to his header and Wabara’s shot from the follow up was blocked. Four minutes later Vuckic again was the creator, feeding the ball out to Wildschut, who cut and smashed a superb drive against Garratt’s upright with the keeper beaten. Frustration.
Wildschut again found a way through on the hour mark, getting on the end of delightful pass from McCann but having got in front of Garratt, the keeper parried his shot was then on his feet quickly to catch the follow-up header.
Vuckic had a chance a minute later, wriggling free to create the opening but once again Garratt was there to save the shot.
Latics were totally dominant now but could just not find a way past. The longer the stalemate continued the more Crewe were able to break on occasion and threaten and as we entered into the final twenty minutes, the game was in the balance.
Caldwell brought on Will Grigg and Davies in place of Hiwula and Vuckic as Latics pushed on in search of a winner.
It was all Latics. One corner led to nothing, a second saw Wildschut head over from close range. Perkins then burst through after a flowing move but his cross was cleared.
‘Come on Wigan’ roared Latics’ biggest away following of the season, as Wabara found a yard of space to fire in a dangerous cross, but no player was able to produce the finish required. Davies rolled his defender in the box and there were loud appeals for a penalty – not given.
As we entered into five additional minutes, still Latics pressed. Two quick corners saw the ball scrambled away but still no goal. Davies tried his luck from distance but Garratt saved again. Power did similar and Garratt was there to smother.