Wigan seal vital win as Max Power opens Championship account
Wigan breathed fresh life into their survival hopes by edging a tense and nervy Sky Bet Championship relegation six-pointer against QPR at the DW Stadium thanks to Max Power’s early penalty.
The Latics had gone into the game knowing they simply had to win if they were to give themselves any chance of avoiding an instant return to League One.
And they could not have got off to a better start, taking the lead inside six minutes.
Callum Lang’s run into the Rangers box was halted in illegal fashion by former Wigan defender Leon Balogun and Power converted the penalty in confident fashion to register his first goal at Championship level in his 82nd appearance.
Rangers, on an abysmal run of results that has seen them dragged into the dogfight at the bottom, showed decent character in response.
Wigan goalkeeper Ben Amos saved well from Chris Willock, before Lyndon Dykes headed just over the crossbar.
The home side won a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the Rangers box when Ethan Laird went in high on Lang, earning himself a yellow card. Power’s free-kick, however, was straight at Seny Dieng.
Wigan were forced into an early change when on-loan Norwich forward Danel Sinani hobbled off the field, to be replaced by Thelo Aasgaard – just back from international duty with Norway Under-20s.
And the home side finished the half well, with Balogun almost slicing a Lang cross past his own goalkeeper, who thankfully was alert enough to make a fine save.
Wigan picked up where they left off after the restart with Lang firing in a fierce free-kick that bounced right in front of Dieng, who again did well with attackers hoping for a fumble.
At the other end, a Willock free-kick evaded everyone in the box and Amos did well to flick it away as it threatened to creep in at the far post.
Another former Wigan man, Jamal Lowe, appeared for Rangers in the final quarter, to try to add a spark to their attack.
In the first of the six added minutes, Amos had to scramble across his goal to keep out an unwitting deflection off Tom Naylor, who had just come onto the field.
Amos did even better moments later when a corner was only half-cleared to Kenneth Paal, who tried his luck on the volley from 25 yards only to see it tipped round the post.
Wigan then almost doubled their lead on the counter when Aasgaard played in James McClean. The Irishman’s shot was arrowing towards the far corner only for Dieng to pull off another fine save.