Crewe Alexandra slipped to their third away defeat of the season but again a touch of misfortune went against us at the DW Stadium.
The Alex players felt aggrieved that there was a foul on our defender George Ray inside a crowded penalty area as Max Power sent over 12th minute corner, that Michael Jacobs too easily headed home at the far post – but their strong appeals were waved away by referee Coote.
At the other end, a low drive from Brad Inman struck the base of the post and looked as though it might divert across the line only for it to bounce to safety from a Wigan perspective.
Crewe’s pressing a probing in the second half arguably should have seen them take something from the game but credit must go to an organised Wigan Athletic rearguard who protected their 18 yard box extremely well. The Railwaymen just couldn’t find a way through with substitute Lauri Dalla Valle having our best half chance when he flicked across from Brad Inman a yard wide just minutes after replacing Marcus Haber.
Crewe Alexandra’s new loan signing Stephen Kingsley made his debut for the club at left-back. After filling in gallantly at full-back from the beginning of the season, Jon Guthrie was rather unfortunate to drop to the substitutes’ bench.
Crewe Alexandra’s other new loanee Harry Wilson was also named in the squad, but had to settle for a place on the bench due to the recent form of Brad Inman and Ryan Colclough. Club captain Harry Davis travelled to the DW Stadium but was not deemed match fit to be named in the squad of 18.
In the early exchanges both sets of full-backs were eager to get forward. The Wigan Athletic left-back Reece James provided an excellent delivery for Will Grigg but the £1 million summer signing from the MK Dons didn’t get enough on it to really trouble Ben Garratt.
At the other end, the well advanced Kingsley soon showed his quality in the final third by providing a tempting cross for Marcus Haber but the Canadian International didn’t get enough on his header to draw Richard O’Donnell into his first save.
As we approached the 10th minute mark of a fairly open game, Michael Jacobs curled a 25 yard free-kick into the arms of Garratt before Ollie Turton forced the Wigan goalkeeper in to his first meaningful save down to his right hand side.
George Ray was booked for what seemed nothing more than an innocent clash with Craig Davies before the home side took the lead on 12 minutes from a straight forward corner. Max Power swung his delivery to the far post and Jacobs headed home from no more than six yard out. The Crewe players though felt that there had been an infringement as the cross was delivered, but referee Coote waved away our appeals, led by Captain David Fox and Turton.
Five minutes later, the Railwaymen were rather unfortunate not to equalise. Some really neat play involving the busy Adam King and Ryan Colclough allowed Inman to find some space some 25 yards from goal and he was so unlucky to see his low drive strike the foot of the post and divert out. On another day, it could well have hit the post and deflected in.
Crewe were dealt a blow when midfielder Billy Bingham was forced off after pulling his hamstring when trying to chase down the ball. He was unable to continue and had to be replaced by Chris Atkinson.
King’s first mistake in possession after 25 minutes presented Jacobs with an opportunity to run at the Crewe defence and after evading two challenges to go through one-on-one, he was denied a second goal by the brilliance and bravery of Garratt. The Crewe goalkeeper was on him quickly to save his shot with his face. Garratt was also called upon to save smartly from Jonjoe Kenny following a swift counter attack that left the Crewe defence outnumbered on the left hand side.
Garratt made his third necessary save to deny the impressive Jacobs again after Fox had surrendered possession too easily. Jacobs’s pace troubled the Crewe back line and the Alex stopper had to push his effort into the air before the supportive George Ray headed the ensuing danger over for a corner.
New loan signing Kingsley was having an impressing debut and he forced O’Donnell into pushing his powerful shot over the crossbar after a really forceful run into the penalty area. The Swansea City youngster certainly provided an attacking threat from that side of the field.
Five minutes before the interval, the Wigan full-back James was booked for clattering into Turton after he had laid the ball off.
Crewe ended the first period whilst enjoying some sustained pressure but that genuine chance never fell right. Fox did have a long distance effort that was blocked by Pearce and Haber nearly reached another good delivery from Inman but it was just too long.
Wigan started the second half on the front foot with Grigg testing Garratt with a long range effort before Jacobs had his shot blocked from closer range by Ben Nugent.
Just four minutes after the restart, Crewe were caught out at a quickly taken throw-in down our right hand side and after Davies had cut the ball back from the by-line, Grigg must have thought he had made it 2-0 when he connected firmly with his header, but a combination of post and Garratt’s glove kept it out.
A strong run from Atkinson saw him break into the Wigan penalty area after being played in by Colclough but he couldn’t pick out the onrushing Brad Inman with his low cross and the danger was aborted by the Latics.
Crewe Alexandra’s second change of the afternoon saw Lauri Dalla Valle replace Haber. The Finn’s first involvement saw him flick a header from Inman’s left sided cross just wide of O’Donnell’s far post.
The Railwaymen were playing some really good football, trying to probe open the organised Wigan back-line but the home side remained a threat on the counter attack. Crewe just couldn’t convert the possession into clear-cut opportunities and that was credit to Wigan’s stubborn defending.
Wigan made a double change with 20 minutes left with Jordan Flores and Sean Murray replacing James and Davies. The fresh legs certainly helped them get more of a foothold on the ball but Crewe were still very much in the contest.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, Kinglsey was struggling with cramp and was replaced by George Cooper. It was certainly an attacking move as Crewe went with three at the back to use Cooper more in the final third.
Wigan’s captain Craig Morgan was cautioned for a trip on Dalla Valle but Fox’s delivery into the Wigan penalty was well collected by O’Donnell.
The Railwaymen continued to be patient and precise in our passing into the Wigan final third but we just couldn’t find a way through.
With the minutes ticking away, Murray was booked for time wasting before Atkinson defended superbly to cut out a cross from Jacobs that was destined for Grigg. The striker would soon make way for Wigan’s new loan signing Jordi Hiwula.
Crewe couldn’t conjure up that really good chance to snatch a share of the spoils.