- Wigan Athletic lose to Reading in the Sky Bet Championship as relegation confirmed.
- Latics dominate but can’t find a way past Ali Al Habsi.
- Shaun MacDonald in hospital after double leg fracture.
- Reece Burke also replaced before the break with thigh injury.
- Yann Kermorgant with early goal for Reading.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
Latics’ relegation to Sky Bet League One was confirmed after a brave attempt at the Madejski Stadium, where despite dominating the home side and forcing numerous chances, they lost out to an early Yann Kermorgant header; and also suffered the tragic loss of Wales midfielder Shaun MacDonald with a broken leg.
In the end, victory would have meant nothing anyway as results elsewhere did not go Latics’ way. The players clapped the supporters who had travelled down from Wigan at the final whistle in a match in which they gave everything but just couldn’t find a way past former DW Stadium favourite Ali Al Habsi.
There was just the single change for Latics, Nick Powell being brought into the starting line-up in place of Gabriel Obertan, who along with Sam Morsy, dropped out of the squad completely. Omar Bogle was back on the bench after an absence of five matches.
Latics got off to the worst possible start, Royals’ top scorer Kermorgant heading past Matt Gilks from six yards after just five minutes, converting a Garath McCleary cross from the right.
Latics did have two quick attempts on goal from Michael Jacobs, saved by Al Habsi, then a backheeled effort from Dan Burn which went just wide, but things got even worse when MacDonald was stretchered off in the 17th minute after receiving treatment for over ten minutes following a challenge by George Evans, who received a yellow card. The club later confirmed that MacDonald had suffered a double leg fracture and was taken to a local hospital for emergency treatment.
Max Power replaced McDonald and Latics continued to look for an opening. Jacobs shot over with an angled effort after 24 minutes then Powell had two efforts in quick succession, seeing a near post shot saved in the 29th minute, then shooting over from 12 yards a minute later.
Powell then saw his diving header from ten yards well saved by Al Habsi after a great breakaway in the 35th minute, started by David Perkins, who fed Ryan Tunnicliffe down the left and his teasing cross reached Powell near the penalty spot.
Powell came close again with in the 42nd minute, playing a neat one-two with Jacobs in the box and seeing his powerful right-sided shot hit the side netting from an angle.
Latics were then forced into making a second enforced change before the break, Callum Connolly replacing Reece Burke in the nine minutes of stoppage-time. There was still time for Powell to have a half-chance, just failing to get a toe to Connolly’s low cross into the near post.
Latics had two great chances within minutes of the restart, Burn seeing his close range header deflected for a corner then Connolly could only put Jamie Hanson’s cross into the side netting under pressure from Al Habsi, both after 51 minutes.
Powell drove a shot wide of Al Habsi’s far post after finding space on the right side after 59 minutes and tried his luck from long range after 65 minutes; just wide. He was at it again two minutes later, brilliantly weaving a path past Evans but his pass to the unmarked Tunnicliffe was just deflected.
Bogle for Powell was the last throw of the dice after 79 minutes but despite throwing bodies forward in a desperate attempt to score, they couldn’t find a way through.
Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Evans (Ilori, 72), Moore, Blackett, Kelly, Beerens, Obita, Swift (Swift 59), Kermorgant, McCleary (Grabban, 45+2).
Subs not used: Jaakola, Popa, Oxford, Mendes
Wigan Athletic: Gilks, Hanson, Burke (Connolly 45+4), Morgan, Burn, Warnock, Perkins, Tunnicliffe, MacDonald (Power, 17), Jacobs, Powell (Bogle 79).
Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, Bruce, Byrne, Colclough