- Wigan Athletic lose to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Sky Bet Championship.
- Nick Powell scores 5th goal in three games with late header
- Glenn Murray and Solly March with Brighton goals
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 2
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
Attendance - 29,940
Nick Powell briefly gave Latics hope of another spectacular comeback with a late header to pull a goal back, but Graham Barrow’s Latics were not able to prevent their hosts from powering towards the Premier League, a goal in each half from Glenn Murray and Solly March securing victory at a jubilant Amex Community Stadium.
Brighton fans invaded the pitch as the Latics players had to sprint back to the dressing rooms after a dramatic finish in which they threatened to spoil their hosts' the party.
In the end, they had nothing to show for their efforts and the gap to safety remains the same five points as we move into the last three games of the season.
There were two changes for Latics, Ryan Tunnicliffe, back for the first time in eight matches, and David Perkins, in place of Callum Connolly and Sam Morsy.
Latics went in a goal down at the break having held their own quite well, but without ever really threatening.
Latics’ best moment came after just five minutes when Michael Jacobs released Max Power on the right but his fizzing cross was just too high for Jacobs to get on the end of it.
At the other end, Anthony Knockaert’s free-kick into the box wasn’t held by Jakob Haugaard after 14 minutes, Lewis Dunk was there but the effort was bundled away. Dunk also got on the end of another Knockaert free-kick after 26 minutes but headed over.
The goal was a simple one when it came, after 37 minutes. Dunk put in a long ball from his own half, which was controlled by Tomer Hemed on the edge of the box, he teed up Murray to smash it home past Haugaard.
The lead was almost doubled five minutes later as Knockaert’s corner was headed in by Murray at the far post but the ball was judged to have crossed the line on its way into the box.
Perkins did shoot on goal a minute later, deflected for a corner; the one direct effort at goal before the break.
Latics survived two early scares in the second half. Firstly, Haugard wasn’t able to hold on to Solly March’s left-wing cross after 50 minutes and Hemed fired at goal from ten yards, Buxton clearing off the line before an almighty scramble eventually resulted in a Latics free-kick.
Two minutes later and Haugaard was at full stretch to tip Knockaert’s free-kick from 20 yards around his left hand post.
Barrow responded by bringing on Ryan Colclough and Nick Powell for Tunnicliffe and Gabriel Obertan on the hour mark but Albion doubled their lead in the 64th minute.
Championship Player of The Year Knockaert showed exactly why he was voted as such when he beat three Latics defenders to get in the box from the right side and set up March, who took a touch and smashed the ball home from an angle.
Brighton made a double change of their own after 73 minutes, Beram Kayal and March replaced by Oliver Norwood and Jamie Murphy, while Sam Morsy replaced Shaun MacDonald.
Powell tried his luck from 25 yards but David Stockdale collected safely. Latics did push for goal and left themselves open on the counter-attack. Knockaert had the ball in the net but was flagged offside, while Murray, on the break put across a dangerous cross which Knockaert just failed to reach.
The Amex was stunned into silence when Powell met Jamie Hanson’s cross magnificently in the centre of goal to power in a header in the 84th minute.
Suddenly it was Latics in the ascendancy but they almost paid the price when substitute Chuba Akpom broke down the left channel and sent a shot into Haugaard’s side netting.
Could Latics mount another spectacular comeback? Three minutes of added time were announced, the Amex Stadium screamed for the full-time whistle, Powell broke through the middle but his shot was blocked. Agony for Latics, ecstasy for Brighton.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Stockdale, Bruno, Hunemeier, Dunk, Bong, Knockaert, Stephens, Kayal (Norwood, 73), March (Murphy 73), Murray, Hemed (Akpom, 81).
Subs not used: Mäenpää, Rosenior, Skalak, Tomori
Wigan Athletic: Haugaard, Buxton, Burn, Hanson, Warnock, Perkins, Tunnicliffe (Colclough, 60), MacDonald (Morsy 73), Power, Jacobs, Obertan (Powell, 60).
Subs not used: Gilks, Morgan, Connolly, Byrne.