The D3D4 Correspondents give you their reports from New Year Day…
Northampton Town 0-1 Wigan Athletic
An out-of-sorts Wigan Athletic scraped a 1-0 victory over a Northampton side who simply couldn’t take their chances at Sixfields.
Nick Powell scored the only goal of the game in the 5th minute, leaving Northampton to rue their missed opportunities as Wigan consigned them to a third consecutive defeat.
Northampton have developed a habit of suffering poor starts to games this season, and it proved to be an unwelcome trend yet again today when Wigan went ahead early on. Latics wing-back Nathan Byrne was afforded time and space on the right flank by Cobblers left-back George Smith, and it proved to be a costly mistake by the young defender as Byrne swung a pinpoint cross into the box which was met by the head of Nick Powell to send Wigan into the lead.
However, what had from then on looked to be a long afternoon for the Cobblers, who were only too aware that Wigan had trounced Oxford United 0-7 in their most recent away outing, turned into a hard-fought close contest.
Wigan very nearly doubled their advantage after 20 minutes when Will Grigg managed to chest the ball down inside the box and turn away a shot, but Northampton defender Brendan Moloney made a sensational last-ditch challenge to thwart the Northern Ireland international’s attempt.
The Cobblers then went close themselves through winger Daniel Powell, who was played through on goal by an impressive pass from 19 year old midfielder Shaun McWilliams, but Powell screwed his shot narrowly wide of the target.
Sam Foley was presented with a golden opportunity to draw Northampton level just before half time when he showed excellent skill to control a long ball from Ash Taylor, but he hesitated when trying to decide whether to shoot or to square the ball to striker Chris Long. Foley paid the price for his hesitation as he shanked a panicked shot well wide of the target when he came under pressure from Wigan defenders.
At the other end, Lee Evans’ well-struck free kick was saved by Matt Ingram, with the Latics finding themselves short of clear-cut chances as the Cobblers defence stood firm.
The second half saw Chris Long shooting wide for Northampton before Shaun McWilliams’ strike from 30 yards out was denied by Wigan goalkeeper Christian Walton. Ivan Toney replied for Wigan by sternly testing Matt Ingram’s goalkeeping abilities with a powerfully hit free kick, but the Cobblers keeper was alert to the danger and made the save.
Northampton dominated much of the play in the second half as Wigan dug in for the fight and tried to hold on to their one-goal advantage. The Cobblers battled valiantly to draw level but despite promising forward play from midfielders John-Joe O’Toole and Sam Foley, the Cobblers’ end product let them down and they were unable to further trouble Walton in the Latics’ goal.
Matt Grimes was presented with the last opportunity of the match- a free-kick just on the edge of the box- but he blasted it straight into the defensive wall, allowing Wigan to survive until the final whistle.
Wigan have now gone ten games undefeated in League One and remain top of the table by two points, whilst the Cobblers suffered their third defeat in a row and are now 22nd, five points adrift of safety from relegation.
Northampton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was keen to take the positives from his side’s performance, saying:
“It was disappointing, but it was always going to be a hard game against the leaders. There was not a lot in the game. We had some good chances, especially in the first half. I can’t fault the players and we really showed that we care and still have the spirit. We still have a chance.
“Wigan didn’t have it easy today, with a bit of luck we would have got a draw, but it wasn’t meant to be. We need to be more consistent with these kinds of performances, and then we will be in a position to win football matches. It’s very encouraging.”
Wigan assistant manager Leam Richardson admitted that it had been a tough contest but was glad that his team had found a way to win, saying:
“Northampton made us dig in today. We’ve had a little bit of quality in the game from Nick Powell with the goal, and then we’ve just had to dig in as good teams do. Northampton offered up everything and made us work for the win but thankfully we got that.”
Teams and Man-For-Man Marking
Northampton: 4-4-1-1: Ingram 7/10, Moloney 7, Poole 7, Taylor 6, Smith 6, Foley 7, Grimes 4, McWilliams 8, Powell 7, Crooks 6, Long 6
Subs: O’Toole (for Crooks, 61′) 6, Hoskins (for McWilliams, 73′) 6, Richards (for Powell, 84′) 6
Wigan: 4-2-3-1: Walton 7, Byrne 8, Dunkley 7, Burn 6, James 6, Morsy 6, Evans 6, Massey 7, Powell 7, Jacobs 6, Grigg 7
Subs: Power (for Massey, 70′) 7, Toney (for Powell, 71′) 7, Perkins (for Grigg, 85′) 6
Referee: Mark Heywood
Men of the Match: Shaun McWilliams for Northampton and Nathan Byrne for Wigan.
words Toby Foster, D3D4 Northampton Town Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Shrewsbury Town 1-0 Oldham Athletic
A disciplined Shrewsbury produced an effective if unspectacular performance to defeat a disappointing Latics who have taken only one point from twelve over the Christmas period.
Shaun Whalley got the goal after Ogogo’s initial effort was parried straight into his path by keeper Placide who may feel he should have done better. A
Payne header nearly doubled the lead but this time the Latics stopper was equal to it.
For their part, Oldham’s attacking play was disappointing. The crisp passing and exciting movement of the team that earned Richie Wellens the manager’s job on a permanent basis has gone, replaced with slow build up and over hit passes in recent games.
Davies isolated up front, unable to hold the ball up because it rarely got to him. Flynn and Obedayi underused on the flanks and disappointing when the ball did come their way.
The second half was more interesting for Latics fans, but chances few and far between. A Gerrard header went close. The busy but often ineffective Gardener just wide from distance and Byrne closest to scoring with a rasping effort well saved by Henderson.
Davies went down easily in the box late on, but well placed referee and linesman both failed to spot a push. On a better day perhaps the Oldham talisman would have continued his run and finished anyway.
Fane being replaced by Paul Green late on highlighted a lack of belief the manager has in more attacking options at his disposal. The transfer window awaits.
Another defeat for Oldham and down to twentieth. Shrewsbury meanwhile continue a run that includes a series of narrow wins to find a far happier league position.
Placide, Dummigan, Hunt, Gerrard, Bryan, Flynn (Holloway), Obedayi (Menig), Fane (Green), Gardener, Byrne, Davies
words Dave Stringer, Oldham Athletic fan
MATCH REPORT: Newport County 2-1 Exeter City
Rodney Parade, Mon 1st January 2018, Attendance 3,380 (499 Away Fans)
Last season’s equivalent fixture saw Exeter City come to Rodney Parade and beat a struggling Newport County 4-1. County have improved considerably since that game and the September fixture at St James’s Park saw City narrowly win 1-0 as a result of an excellent individual effort from Lee Holmes. City made a number of changes from their recent win over Barnet, including dropping Holmes to the bench, and County welcomed back captain Joss Labadie after a one game ban for a sending-off at Wycombe.
The returning Labadie was in action within the first couple of minutes of the game, forcing a Matty Dolan corner onto the Exeter post as Newport County dominated the initial exchanges. The early County pressure was rewarded on 6 minutes when a good move down the right saw Robbie Willmott cross for Padraig Amond to head over City keeper Pym for the opening goal.
Shortly after the restart a hard and low cross from Nouble struck Amond and went wide leaving the County striker flat out. He recovered to get on the end of another Willmott cross but City’s Jordan Tillson did well to block the shot.
Exeter rarely threatened but on 15 minutes Joe Day in the Newport goal was called into action to gather a weak Ryan Harley free kick.
County continued to dominate the first half and City midfielder, Lloyd James, was booked after catching Joss Labadie late and then, shortly afterwards, diving in at County defender Mickey Demetriou. County left the pitch at half-time with a deserved 1-0 lead.
The Exeter players were sent out early for the second half and started the better team. James had a shot cleared off the goal line by County defender Dan Butler and City followed up with a goal as well worked as Newport County’s earlier effort. On 53 minutes, the ball came across to Jake Taylor on the right who went past County left back Butler and crossed for Stockley to head the equaliser.
Exeter continued to dominate and James had an excellent opportunity that the City midfielder should have done better with – heading over Joe Day’s crossbar.
Newport County gradually worked their way back into the game and on 65 minutes a clever backheel from Amond allowed Butler to find Robbie Willmott who struck a low ball inside Pym’s right hand post from 25 yards.
Willmott ran to the empty south stand to celebrate the goal, possibly in reaction to recent criticism of his performances. Amond then had a good shot saved by Pym at the keepers near post.
Exeter looked lively in the later stages of the game with Holmes and Taylor producing fine saves from Day in the County goal.
Pym also saved bravely at the feet of McCoulsky after the County striker had slightly overrun a good through ball. Despite 8 minutes of added time Exeter were unable to break down a determined Newport team who registered their first home win since early October.
Man of the Match – Padraig Amond. For Exeter – Troy Archibald-Henville.
words Rob Wood, D3D4 Newport County Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Peterborough United 1-1 Doncaster Rovers
Monday 1st January 2018, English Football League 1, Game #26.
PETERBOROUGH UNITED 1-1 DONCASTER ROVERS ATT: 5,173
Lloyd 14 Whiteman 90+3
Line-up- Bond, Penny, Tafazolli, Taylor, Hughes, Grant, Doughty (Da Silva Lopes 62), Maddison (Morias 87), Forrester, Lloyd, Marriott.
Coming off some fine, festive form, barring the debacle in Milton Keynes, were hopes to be high for inconsistent Posh for the visit of Doncaster, under the tutelage of Darren Ferguson. The visitors can be quite a rugged and forceable side, so it proved within this encounter.
Posh started well and were worthy of their lead, coming in the 14th minute. Tafazolli’s header across goal was met by the post then the boot of reinvigorated Danny Lloyd from close range, 1-0. Being threatened with the possibility of a move, Lloyd has reacted in a very positive manner. The rest of the first-half was largely uneventful, however in the back of my mind was the scoreline as it was, was not going to be enough for inconsistent Posh.
Second half was hotly contested, especially when Da Silva Lopes was given a berth into the game, coming on for the below-par Doughty. Lopes added much needed pace and guile to the wing-play attack and certainly made a positive influence. Forrester has Posh’s best chance of the second phase, when he positioned his body perfectly for a volley, in which cannoned off the post from outside the area.
Alfie May looked confident and composed beyond his years for Doncaster, however they still were behind as we rolled into five added minutes. May missed an opportunity within this period, as did Whiteman as Posh were coming under constant added time bombardment, as the hopes of successfully closing out the game was becoming increasingly problematic. Then with the third added minute on the clock, Whiteman made good by slotting in the equaliser.
Boro tried to rally for a last-gasp winner within the remaining two minutes, but to no avail. Doncaster will be happier with this point more than Peterborough, especially how the game climaxed.
words Ian McFarlane D3D4 Peterborough United correspondent