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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
22:05 16th August 2016
By  Nick Seddon

LATICS 1 BIRMINGHAM 1

A dramatic Craig Davies equaliser in the final minute of the game rescued a point for Latics, in a pulsating game against Birmingham at the DW Stadium.

The visitors looked to have bagged all three points, after David Davis had turned the ball home on the rebound, following Adam Bogdan’s excellent save to deny Clayton Donaldson from the spot.

However, Gary Caldwell’s men just do not know when they are beaten, and their persistent pressure finally paid dividends, when Davies popped up in the final minute of the game to turn home Will Grigg’s dangerous cross from close range.

Caldwell named an unchanged starting eleven from the excellent win against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, with the only change coming on the bench; where new signing Shaun McDonald was given an inclusion in place of Jack Hendry.

The manager’s faith was warranted, as Latics picked up exactly where they left off at the weekend, with an energetic start against the visitors.

Latics were moving the ball around nicely, with Alex Gilbey, Nick Powell and Max Power all catching the eye for the hosts in the opening exchanges.

However, for all of Latics’ liveliness, it was the visitors who had the first real opportunity of the game on 15 minutes, when Clayton Donaldson clanged the ball against the post.

The move started through David Davis, who found space and forced a good stop from Bogdan with his effort. The ‘keeper couldn’t hold his stop, though, and the ball fell to Donaldson, who slammed the ball against the far post from close range.

It was a big let off for Latics, and they almost punished Birmingham for failing to take their chance two minutes later, when Grigg headed narrowly wide after meeting Powell’s cross from the right.

Latics were full of confidence, and continued to created chances down both flanks, with Yanic Wildschut and Luke Burke both looking dangerous every time they pushed forward.

However, despite this, Latics were lacking a clinical touch in the final third, and for all of their possession, they were struggling to carve out a definitive chance to take.

The visitors were seeing plenty of the ball themselves, though, and won a penalty on the stroke of half time, when Clayton Donaldson broke the offside trap and was brought down in the area by Adam Bogdan – to loud protests from the home support.

The goalkeeper made up for the foul with a fine save to deny Donaldson’s tame effort from the spot, but David Davis reacted first to tap the ball home, and send his side into the interval with an advantage.

It was a difficult start to the second period for Latics, who were somewhat subdued by the goal on the stroke of half time, and they took a little while to build their way back into the contest.

Gary Caldwell took early action, and introduced Michael Jacobs just three minutes into the second half, in place of Luke Burke.

It was an attacking change, and the manager’s boldness began to pay off, with Wigan Athletic starting to see more and more of the ball.

Latics continued to grow into the half, and had a huge chance to level things up 11 minutes in through Nick Powell, who headed Alex Gilbey’s cross just wide of Kuszczak’s far post.

It was a big chance, and Latics were almost punished for not taking it just two minutes later by former man David Cotterill, who went very close to doubling his side’s lead.

The winger broke down the right, before cutting inside and just clipping the crossbar with his effort – which went over the bar.

Gary Caldwell made another change on the hour mark, and introduced new signing Shaun McDonald for his debut. The midfielder was brought on in place of David Perkins, and was given a good reception by the home faithful.

The game continued to be on a knife edge, with the next goal looking more and more vital as time pressed on.

Alex Gilbey looked impressive throughout for Latics and was a threatening force in the final 20 minutes, but it continued to be the same story for the hosts, who were being frustrated by some excellent Birmingham City defending.

The visitors were looking dangerous themselves, and it took two big tackles from Dan Burn and then Stephen Warnock to make vital interceptions.

Latics continued to probe, and Gary Caldwell made his final move five minutes from time; introducing Craig Davies in place of Max Power.

The Latics boss went for it, and his boldness paid dividends in the final minute of the 90, when Davies popped up from close range to turn home Will Grigg’s dangerous cross and rescue a point for his side.

The DW Stadium was buoyant, and Latics very nearly stole the points in the second minute of added time, when Michael Jacobs was denied by an excellent save by Kuszczak.

The winger was teed up by Grigg at point blank range, and saw his narrow effort denied spectacularly by the Birmingham stopper to keep the points level.

Latics continued to push right until the end, but the visitors held firm for a dramatic point, to ensure that Wigan Athletic remain unbeaten at home in the Sky Bet Championship this season.