Wigan 0 Portsmouth 1: Neil Allen's verdict - The man with the Midas touch maintains glittering Blues start as substitution reaps golden winner

The Midas touch continues to flourish for Danny Cowley in this dazzling start to life at the Pompey helm.

By Neil Allen
Monday, 5th April 2021, 5:06 pm
Jack Whatmough tussles with Jamie Proctor of Wigan in their DW Stadium encounter. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

The Blues head coach this afternoon registered a fourth consecutive triumph as Wigan were defeated on home turf.

Yet, on this occasion, the former Huddersfield man struck gold with an inspired half-time substitution in the form of Andy Cannon.

The midfielder was introduced into the action at the interval, with the Blues rather lacklustre in a goalless first half.

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It would take just 36 seconds for Cannon to make his mark, with a wonderful run and finish, finding the net from 22-yards.

It was a goal worthy of winning any game – and so it proved as the Blues triumphed 1-0.

Certainly Cowley deserves immense credit for his latest win during this magnificent honeymoon period.

Not at their best against a Wigan side which belied their struggling status, the Blues produced their weakest display of the era so far.

Failing to dominate possession as in previous games, too often the visitors were reliant on breaking through Ryan Williams, Marcus Harness and the dogged Ronan Curtis.

Defensively they were sound throughout, though, with Craig MacGillivray barely threatened thanks to his team-mates in front.

Ultimately Pompey were indebted to Cannon’s glittering contribution, rattling in only the third goal of his Fratton career.

And a fourth straight win moves them up to fourth in League One as this remarkable impact overseen by the Cowleys continues at pace.

Danny Cowley named an unchanged side at the DW Stadium on a nippy day in Lancashire.

That meant Curtis continued in attack, with the club missing John Marquis (banned), Ellis Harrison (knee) and Jordy Hiwula (ankle).

Ben Close, who has been an impressive presence since his return to the team, was again in the centre of midfield.

He was forced off against Rochdale late on after suffering cramp.

Meanwhile, the bench was also unaltered, with Pompey’s head coach keeping the same 18-man squad which won 2-1 on Good Friday.

Haji Monga was 19th man once again and watched proceedings from the empty DW Stadium main stand.

Pompey had a golden opportunity to open the scoring after five minutes following a wonderful ball from Michael Jacobs to send Ryan Williams clear down the left.

The Australian had Ronan Curtis in the middle, with just one defender in their vicinity, and naturally tried to find him.

However, Williams’ squared pass was overhit and Curtis was unable to gather it and take advantage of his excellent scoring position.

It was such a waste for the Blues, with the moment petering out as Wigan got back to clear.

Moments later, Callum Johnson galloped onto a pass down the right to strike an excellent first-time cross.

It fell inviting to Jacobs, who attempted to strike it with his right foot, rather than the left which appeared to be a better fit for an attempt.

The result was a sliced shot and Wigan again managed to hack the ball clear.

The Blues won the game’s first corner on 10 minutes, which was taken by Jacobs, yet came to nothing.

Wigan boss Leam Richardson was left seething on 16 minutes when Raggett misjudged the ball and allowed Jamie Proctor to muscle past him to emerge clean through on goal.

However, the referee harshly adjudged the Wigan man had committed a foul in the process, with Richardson making his feelings abundantly known.

The Latics then had a golden chance following a free-kick in from the left, with Curtis Tilt’s far-post effort striking the legs of Craig MacGillivray, who had already dived.

Funso Ojo became the first player to be booked in the game when he brought down Jacobs on the left flank on 34 minutes.

Pompey were struggling to dictate play, although, on 41 minutes, Naylor did present the ball to Williams to launch a rapid counter attack.

However, Luke Robinson sacrificed himself for a yellow card by bringing down the Australian with a tackle from behind.

Then, with half-time approaching, Harness sprinted down the right and pulled the ball back from the byline to Williams.

The Australian’s first-time right-footed shot was clean and powerful, but keeper Jamie Jones was equal to it, diving to his left to save.

With the half-time scoreline goalless, Andy Cannon was introduced for Jacobs.

Sure enough, it took just 36 seconds of the second half for Cannon to make his mark – by breaking the deadlock.

The midfielder picked up the ball from the left and cut inside across the pitch with space opening up for him.

Then, from 22-yards, he let fly with a ferocious right-footed shot which Jones couldn’t keep out, making it 1-0 to the visitors.

Wigan responded positively, with Callum Lang going down in the box under a challenge from Raggett, with no penalty given, while Proctor’s shot then deflected wide for a corner.

There was a stoppage in play when Cannon had to receive treatment after appearing to have injured his left hand.

The midfielder was able to carry on with several fingers bandaged together, although clearly in some discomfort.

There was then a flashpoint between Cannon and Tilt, but the referee restored order without the need for bookings.

Danny Cowley made his second substitution on 62 minutes, with Close replaced by Harvey White.

Williams came within a whisker of double the Blues’ lead after an excellent cross from Harness from the right.

Popping up at the far post, the Australian produced an angled shot which was somehow kept out at his near post by Jones.

The visitors appealed to the linesman that the ball had crossed the line, but the only thing awarded was a corner.

Wigan made their first substitution on 68 minutes, with Thelo Aasgaard replaced by Will Keane.

On 79 minutes, Viv Solomon-Otabor came off for Dan Gardner.

Pompey were forced into a substitution on 81 minutes when Raggett clashed heads with Lang, which left both players grounded requiring treatment.

Rasmus Nicolaisen was immediately introduced, while Raggett left the field with physio Bobby Bacic holding a tissue to his face.

Lang also left the pitch, replaced by Joe Dodoo.

That delay contributed to seven minutes of time added on, with the Blues digging deep, but they came through unscathed to register a fourth straight win of this Cowley era.

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