A 94th minute winner from Birkir Bjarnason broke Latics’ hearts at Villa Park after a spirited display looked to have earned a share of the spoils.

Chester (13)
Dunkley (OG, 63)
Bjarnason (90 +4)
Powell (41)
Connolly (55)

For the second successive league visit to Villa Park Latics were undone by a late Villa goal and came away with nothing having deserved at least a point.  Plenty of sides will go to Villa Park this season and come away with a hiding as they will be much closer to promotion than the early season odds would have you believe.  The talk all summer was how they would need to sell their best stars but after a late injection of funds they’ve not only been able to keep the likes of Jack Grealish but have also added to their squad as well and will be a good bet to go one better than last season when they lost the Playoff Final.

Paul Cook gave a second debut to Callum Connolly and again the Everton loanee scored on his debut away from home to give his new club a second half lead after a fortuitous Nick Powell goal had cancelled out James Chester’s header in the first half.  Latics could only hold the lead for 8 minutes though before conceding a bizarre own goal attributed to Chey Dunkley although he will have known little about it.  Cedric Kipre attempted to hook the ball clear from a corner but could only hit Dunkley in the face and the ball ricocheted into the goal.   Deep into stoppage time it looked as though the points would be shared but as the home side pushed forward, Bjarnason got on the end of Conor Hourihane’s cross to win the game.


That was a tough defeat to take given the late goal but the performance can give us plenty of encouragement for the season ahead.  Defensively again we looked a little shaky and the goals we conceded were poor goals to concede that could all have been defended better.  Christian Walton had no reason to come for the cross that led to the opener, but having come for it he has to win it otherwise he risks the exact outcome should someone get on the end of it.  The second goal is one of those freak incidents but coming within 10 minutes of taking the lead it had a devastating effect on the rest of the game.  Could we have sat back and defended for the last half hour?  Probably not, but when we have looked as dangerous going forward as we have we may well have sneaked a third ourselves as Villa pushed out to look for an equaliser.  The goal coming when it did meant that they didn’t need to commit bodies forward so attacking opportunities were still tough to come by when we would have been looking to hit them on the break at 2-1.  As for the winner, we need to prevent those crosses from coming in, and Antonee Robinson needs to track his man better than he did.

When you lose a game like that it always feels like you are overcritical of the players and the mistakes that led to goals, but as Paul Cook said each and every Wigan fan in the ground was on their feet at the final whistle applauding the players and that doesn’t happen unless it’s deserved.  If we play like that every week then we will win more than we lose this season I’m sure of it.  The few defensive frailties that we have seen will disappear the more time the back line spends together on the training field and from what I’ve seen so far Kipre and Dunkley have the makings of a solid centre back pairing. 

Paul Cook:

“I was happy with all aspects of the game except the result. We wanted to give a good performance against Villa and the players did that. We are disappointed as I feel a draw would have been a fair result.  The disappointment will drive us on.”

Cockney Latic Man of the Match: Callum Connolly
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 34,331
1 Nyland 1 Walton
4 Tuanzebe 12 James
5 Chester (c) 22 Dunkley
15 Jedinak 21 Kipre
21 Hutton 3 Robinson
27 El Mohamady 26 Connolly
7 McGinn 5 Morsy (c)


15 McManaman
19 Green 25 Pwell
10 Grealish 17 Jacobs
26 Kodjia 9 Grigg
23 Moreira 23 Jones
3 Taylor 7 Walker
6 Whelan 8 Vaughan


10 Windass
24 Elphick 14 Bruce
29 Hepburn-Murphy 18 Roberts
37 Adomah 36 Evans

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