Wigan Athletic stun Leeds to dent their promotion hopes


Two Gavin Massey strikes saw Wigan stage a remarkable comeback to stun Leeds United and strengthen their bid for survival while throwing a spanner in the works for Leeds and their promotion push as they ran out 2-1 winner at Elland Road on a glorious Yorkshire afternoon.

The Latics rallied from a goal and a man down to take all three points after Cedric Kipre saw red for a deliberate handball on the line.

Sheffield United’s victory over Nottingham Forest earlier in the day set the task out for Leeds before a ball was even kicked under the hot Yorkshire sun. A positive result and they would move back into second in the Championship. A loss would see them behind their Yorkshire rivals on goal difference.

Leeds got off to a hot start and threatened to breach the Wigan goal early when Jack Harrison sent in a fizzing low cross which Patrick Bamford slid to meet, but the former Chelsea forward could only watch as the ball whizzed past his outstretched leg.

The game turned with just 14 minutes on the clock when Bamford looked certain to tap home from two yards out when the ball reached him following a Hernandez low cross. However, Cedric Kipre’s goalkeeper impression saw to it that the game remained 0-0 for the time being and that Wigan would be reduced to ten men for the infringement. Pablo Hernandez stepped up to take the penalty but his weak effort was saved by Christian Walton diving to his left.

That miss would soon be forgotten, however. Luke Ayling slipped in Bamford down the right and the Leeds number nine coolly slotted the ball into the far corner from a tight angle to rock Elland Road.

Wigan were rocking in their own way as their early flashes of promise faded away and an attack against defence mentality started to foster.

Kiko Casilla served as a reminder to stay focused. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper rushed out to meet a loose ball but Leon Clarke nipped in front of him and the cheers turned to gasps. Clarke’s first touch was heavy, though, forcing him wide from 25-yards out and his effort ended up well over the open goal.

Wigan settled into a flat back five, surrendering the ball to Leeds for large spells and hoping the ball would stick when pumped up to the very isolated Clarke.

The home side threatened to double their lead before the interval. First Harrison and Ayling linked well on each flank to help tee up a Hernandez effort which was blocked. Shortly after Tyler Roberts took aim with a thunderous volley but Kai Naismith was on hand to head the ball clear.

The visitors levelled two minutes before the half to kill what was deafening noise from the home support. Ezgjan Alioski found himself out of position at left-back and allowed Gavin Massey to sprint into the penalty area and lash the ball past Casilla at his near post.

Moments later the Macedonian defender was caught out again by Massey on a Latics counter attack and had to take a yellow card for a cynical foul to stop the Wigan forward from baring down one-on-one with Casilla.

Marcelo Bielsa stressed to not overlook the lowly Lancashire outfit in his pre-match notes, and their dominant spell to end the half paid testament to that.

The Argentine threw on striker Kemar Roofe in an effort to break down the stubborn Wigan back line but it was the visitors who looked the more threatening.

A one-dimensional performance began to frustrate the home faithful, but they did greet the first bit of inventive football with roars. Mateusz Klich fizzed a pass out to Hernandez who sent a low ball in to Roofe. Leeds’ top scorer laid the ball back to the Polish midfielder and his half volley rocketed over the crossbar.

Right on the hour Wigan found the net again. And again it came through slack Leeds defending. A hopeful ball from midfield went into the Leeds penalty area and Massey peeled off Gaetano Berardi to nod the ball past Casilla and into the bottom corner to stun Elland Road silent.

The hosts cranked up the pressure thereafter but their unimaginative play was comfortable for the visitors to deal with.

James nearly caught Casilla out when he went for goal from a free-kick from an acute angle and it flicked the top of the crossbar before going out of play. The Leeds shot-stopper didn’t stand a chance as he was expecting the cross.

Ugly scenes descended after that when referee Scott Duncan had to stop proceedings to deal with coins being thrown from Leeds fans at Wigan players.

Jack Clarke was thrown on to try and give the home side some unpredictability in attack but it was all in vain.

Hernandez and Alioski tested Walton but Leeds failed to create another concrete chance to snatch a point and leapfrog Sheffield United back into second and now find their automatic  promotion hopes out of their hands.


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