- Wigan Athletic beat Rotherham United in the Sky Bet Championship.
- Substitute Nick Powell with stunning freekick deep into injury time
- Alex Gilbey with equaliser in the second half
- Gabriel Obertan with neat finish to equalise before the break
- Danny Ward and Anthony Forde with Rotherham goals
WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
Obertan 33, Gilbey 65, Powell 90
ROTHERHAM UNITED 2
Ward 28, Forde 60
Attendance – 10,085
Nick Powell was the unlikely hero after his amazing free-kick deep into injury time won it for Latics who twice had to come from behind with goals from Gabriel Obertan and Alex Gilbey.
A bizarre altercation between Rotherham keeper Lewis Price and Powell caused play to be brought back all the way from the Latics area and literally with seconds left of additional time, the forward, who had been virtually ruled out for the season in early January with a hamstring injury but came off the bench in the second half after missing 18 games, stepped up and absolutely hammered the ball home to send the DW Stadium into raptures.
Give the relegated visitors credit, they played with freedom and made it very difficult for Graham Barrow’s men, who kept plugging away and – perhaps crucially - equalised very quickly on both occasions Rotherham scored, first through Danny Ward, then, after the break, through Anthony Forde.
Latics stay alive in the quest for Championship survival and although the gap to safety remains the same seven points after results elsewhere, nobody will be giving up in the crucial weeks to come, starting with the visit of Barnsley next Thursday.
There were three changes for Latics, Jakob Haugaard was back in goal in place of Matt Gilks, while Gilbey and Obertan returned in place of David Perkins and Jake Buxton; probably about as attack-minded as Barrow could go given the personnel available.
The teams went in level at the break after a really open first half in which both sides scored and had chances to score more.
Latics had a penalty appeal turned down inside the first couple of minutes, when Michael Jacobs crashed to the floor under a challenge from Joe Newell, but the referee wasn’t interested.
Haugaard was almost caught out four minutes later when he took too long to control the ball on his goal line and Ward dispossessed him but shot into the side netting.
Then Latics had a good opening on 9 minutes, Ryan Colclough dispossessing Richard Wood in the box, he found Max Power 18 yards out but his shot went a yard or so wide of Price’s right hand post.
It was Rotherham’s turn to threaten after 14 minutes, Newell ghosting into the box to meet Forde’s low cross but his effort was straight at Haugaard. Latics failed to heed the warning signs and the visitors took the lead on 28 minutes when Darnell Fisher found space on the right side of the area to fizz the ball across and Ward finished low to Haugaard’s left.
The lead lasted only five minutes as Latics broke neatly through Gilbey, Colclough was able to chest the ball down on the penalty spot, it bounced into the path of Obertan who finished powerfully on the half-volley from ten yards.
Latics found a new spring in their step, Jacobs waltzing into the box but his shot was deflected for a corner before Obertan drove at goal and Price had to smother the ball on his line.
Barrow made an early change in the second half, replacing Power with Sam Morsy after 52 minutes but Latics found chances hard to come by, despite forcing the play.
They were hit with a sucker punch on the hour mark, as out of nothing, Forde’s speculative shot squirmed its way through Haugaard’s hands.
The Dane responded with a superb save at full stretch two minutes later to palm away a header from Carlton Morris and it proved to be a crucial save as Latics responded with another great breakaway goal.
Obertan this time was the architect, finding space on the left to deliver a fine ball into the unmarked Gilbey, who took a touch and finished neatly over Price, with 65 minutes on the clock.
Price then made a superb save of his own at full stretch to deny Gilbey a second, again after good work from Obertan, and at the other end, Haugaard made a good instinctive block with his right foot to deny Ward a second goal after 72 minutes.
Powell made his return to the side a minute later, his first game since January 2, as the game entered into the final fifteen minutes. Jack Byrne then came on for his Latics debut in place of Obertan in the 84th minute – the last throw of the dice and almost immediately, Price tipped Powell’s header from a Jamie Hanson free-kick over the bar on 86 minutes. Then Dan Burn managed to get on the end of a Hanson cross in the 89th minute but the effort flew over the bar. Colclough put a shot wide across the face of goal.
Five minutes’ additional time was called and Latics knew it was now or never…Burn broke away, passed to Morsy, whose shot was blocked, then the follow up was cleared off the line from Fisher, it seemed like it wasn't going to happen..
Then came the drama deep into injury time as Price appeared to haul down Powell and there was an altercation off the ball and they came together, head to head. Both players received a yellow and Latics had a free-kick on the very edge of the box as play was pulled back from the opposite side of the field.
This really was the last chance saloon, as Powell stepped up and absolutely smashed the ball into the roof of the net, one of those moments everyone in the stadium would remember forever. Could it prove to be absolutely crucial in the fight for Championship survival?
Wigan Athletic: Haugaard, Burn, Morgan, Hanson, Warnock, Gilbey (Powell, 73), MacDonald, Power (Morsy, 52), Jacobs, Colclough, Obertan (Byrne, 85).
Subs not used: Gilks, Buxton, Connolly, Mandron.
Rotherham United: Price; Fisher, Ajayi, Wood (Belaid, 71), Mattock, Forde (Clarke-Harris, 85), Smallwood, Vaulks, Newell (Taylor, 79), Morris, Ward.
Subs not used: O’Donnell, Purrington, Bray, Yates.