By Alastair Hancock
Match report as Wigan Athletic progress to the second round of the Carabao Cup with a 2-1 victory over Blackpool at the DW stadium on Tuesday night.
Goals from Josh Laurent and Jordan Flores in the first half was enough for the hosts with Peter Hartley’s header only proving to be a conciliation.
The Latics came out on top in a competitive match, as both sides created numerous chances but in the end Paul Cook’s men ensured two wins out of two after the league win over MK Dons at the weekend.
A neat 20-yard effort by Alex Gilbey brought the game to light and to Wigan’s attack in the 13th minute. Blackpool keeper Ben Williams saw the shot late but did well to dive low into his left corner and deny Gilbey.
Just three minutes later the home side opened the scoring through Josh Laurent. His first goal for the club was set up by striker Will Grigg, as it was his excellent run that allowed him to slot a pass into Laurent who eased the ball past the keeper in the left corner.
Blackpool responded well to Latics’ lead as Armand Gnanduillet came close with an attempt at the near post. However, debutant Owen Evans in goal for Wigan made a comfortable stop. The Seasiders then came again with Sean Longstaff finding a pass to Max Clayton whose accurate shot on the edge of box seemed to be creeping in the right corner of Evans’ goal. The diving former academy keeper managed to get finger tips across in time to palm the ball out for a corner.
A long-bursting run by centre back Terrell Thomas nearly resulted in Wigan’s second. Thomas’ confident stream through the away side’s midfield allowed him to execute a perfectly timed cross in to Grigg. The Irishman’s header at the back post just went wide of the left post.
The blue and whites then made their late half pressure count as former Blackpool loanee Jordan Flores struck from 30 yards. His powerful and sublime strike snuck in to the bottom right corner and put Wigan 2-0 in front at half time.
In the second half, Wigan continued their dominance as Flores found Grigg to go through on goal. The striker timed his run on the edge of the half way line to then take on the depleted Blackpool defence, however, his shot was pushed away by the left paw of Williams.
Grigg’s missed opportunity proved costly for Latics, as Blackpool attacked and scored. The lead up to the goal started with Bright Osayi-Samuel’s shot being saved by Evans, as his tall and brave body blocked the ball. The following corner was not dealt with by the Wigan defence and it was Peter Hartley’s decisive touch that brought the visitors back in to the game on the hour mark.
A flurry of chances then came for the Seasiders, as a mix up between Sam Stubbs and Luke Burke let Viv Solomon-Otabor to break through on goal. Evans stood up well and denied the effort. Substitute Jamille Matt then came close with just 10 minutes remaining, as his header hit the top of the crossbar.
To the relief of the Wigan fans and to the pain of the Blackpool support, Gnanduillet had the golden chance to take the tie to extra time. Flores gave the ball away cheaply in his own half and allowed Gnanduillet to carry the ball forward, however, his thunderous attempt flew past the face of the goal and past the post.
Wigan held on for the victory in what was a tight and nervy ending. Paul Cook’s side move onto the second round of the cup with the draw being made on Thursday night. As for Blackpool, Tuesday’s defeat was the second consecutive 1-2 loss in as many days with very contrasting starts to the 2017/18 season for the two teams.
Wigan Athletic: 40. Owen Evans, 7. Alex Gilbey, 9. Will Grigg (Capt) (35. Luke Burgess), 12, Donervon Daniels, 15. Jordan Flores, 19. Josh Laurent, 21. Terell Thomas (34. Sam Stubbs), 26. Reece James, 27. Ryan Colclough, 29. Luke Burke, 36. Chris Merrie (39. Callum Lang).
Non-used subs: 37. Dan Lavercombe, 4. David Perkins, 24. Noel Hunt, 32. Josh Gregory.
Blackpool FC: 1. Ben Williams, 3. Andy Taylor (Capt), 6. Will Aimson, 10. Max Clayton (18. Danny Philliskirk), 11. Armand Gnanduillet, 12. Nick Anderton, 15. Sean Longstaff, 17. Viv Solomon-Otabor (43. Caleb Richards), 21. Bright Osayi-Samuel (19. Jamille Matt), 29. Peter Hartley, 30. Nathan Delfouneso.
Non-used subs: 37. Christoffer Mafoumbi, 34. Seb Des Pres.