Warhorse Magennis plays pivotal role in Wigan’s key win at Lincoln City


Wigan Athletic nudged closer towards automatic promotion with a convincing win over Lincoln City in a 3-1 win that took them four points clear of their nearest rivals in League One’s title race.

Whilst Will Keane and Callum Lang got the plaudits for their goals, striker Josh Magennis put in a tireless performance at the helm of the Latics attack.

Using every ounce of his experience, the former Hull City forward grew in stature as the game wore on and played a pivotal role in their win. With news that both MK Dons and Rotherham United were dropping points elsewhere in the automatic promotion race, Magennis led by example to see his side pick up a vital three points.

Magennis had started slowly in the game as Lincoln defenders Regan Poole and Joe Walsh won their early aerial duals against the big target man. However, as Magennis got up to speed, his quality shone through, delivering an assist for  Wigan’s opener in the tenth minute.

Failing to deal with Jason Kerr’s ball into the box, Lincoln’s defence could only watch on as Magennis’ cushioned header fell perfectly to Callum Lang, who dispatched with aplomb to give the Latics a perfect start.

That perfect start only lasted for five minutes as Anthony Scully provided the ideal response to grab his 14th goal of the season.

Following some excellent movement from Liam Cullen, Lewis Fiorini’s deflected effort fell kindly into the path of Scully, who, after adjusting his feet, confidently tucked the ball past Ben Amos in the Wigan goal.

Despite the setback, the visitors continued to threaten, and when Will Keane notched his 21st goal of the campaign, Wigan never really looked back and required a professional performance to see the game out.

There was an element of luck to their goal, with Lang’s mazy footwork taking a vital touch of an Imps defender and the ball fell neatly into the path of Keane, who finished emphatically past the helpless Jordan Wright in goal.

It was during the second period that Magennis really came into his own. With news filtering through that both Rotherham and MK Dons were potentially dropping points, the Latics seized the opportunity. Magennis led the line perfectly with his work rate typifying the desire to capitalise on results elsewhere.

Covering every blade of grass, the big forward won three big challenges, chasing back towards his own goal to stop Lincoln from building out from the back.

That type of commitment and effort led to Wigan’s decisive third goal, which took the game away from Lincoln’s grasp.

Winning the ball off Ted Bishop in midfield, the Northern Ireland international got Wigan’s counterattack started, feeding Keane ahead of him.

As the ball found its way out to Lang inside the box, Wigan’s number 19 finished superbly, rifling past Wright and off the far post to the delight of the nearly 2,000-strong travelling supporters.

Magennis used his experience and guile to wind the clock down and win free-kicks which was precisely what Lincoln was missing at the other end of the pitch.

Last season, Leam Richardson could barely field a competitive side in the corresponding fixture against Lincoln. However, his Wigan team looked every inch a Championship side at Sincil Bank yesterday and made reasonably light work of their hosts.

Apart from the goal, Lincoln never really troubled Amos in the Wigan goal, and Richardson was full of praise for his side at full time,  looking a relaxed figure with his side’s destiny now in their own hands.

“We need to keep our habits strong and keep our consistency because we’re trying to get results and be competitive – thankfully we did that today and got the result.

“We spoke about how Lincoln are very good in the early stages of each half; they’re very fast in their restarts, very fluent, coached well and have some really good players.

“I thought our lads took real care and attention to that; when the chances came we took them – a little bit of criticism maybe for their goal but you’d be nit-picking because we had chances to finish the game off.”

Wigan’s manager had particular praise for his target man Magennis.

“Josh led the line unbelievably well today for the team. Not once did he look sideways or chasing his own goals.

“He was happy to lead the line and let other people get the spoils because that’s what fowards have to do now and again.

When it’s not their day, they have to make sure that they implement themselves within the team structure and be that focal point. I thought today he was a massive focal point.”

Having been part of Grant McCann’s leadership team in the Hull City dressing room last season as they won the League One title, the 31-year-old has not had to shoulder that amount of responsibility at his new club as Richardson discussed post-match.

“I think he’s found it really surprising that he’s not the only leader and the only character at the football club.

“I think it’s been quite a breath of fresh air for him because he doesn’t have to be that person to carry the (responsibility) every single day.

“He is a big character, and he’s certainly important with his performances on the pitch.”

When Richardson was asked about Magennis’ contribution to the final goal, he had nothing but praise for his striker and the commitment that he is showing to the cause.

“He’s fantastic. We showed him a clip from Tuesday (win over Accrington) where Callum Lang hits the bar and Josh makes a 30- yard run for the team when everybody else can make a five-yard run. If you’ve got that work rate for each other; the work ethic that your teammates will run for you, you’ve half a chance”

As for Lincoln, their season cannot finish quickly enough, particularly their home campaign, as Wigan inflicted their 11th defeat on home soil.

Still trying to find a real identity this season after the heroics in the previous campaign, the Imps once again looked toothless in front of goal, and Liam Cullen was an isolated figure for large parts of the game. Despite having a busier first half, the Swansea loanee had a quiet second period and was eventually replaced after some tireless running.

“Wigan have been great all season. They had a tough time of it last year and Leam has put a group of lads together who know how to win games of football and that showed today.”

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