The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Robert Do­man

KENNY Jack­ett is con­fi­dent Wolves can se­cure a cov­eted play-off berth should they beat Mill­wall next week­end, af­ter edg­ing past rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Wi­gan.

Benik Afobe pounced to score his 32nd goal of the sea­son mid­way through the first-half as both sides knew de­feat could de­fine their des­tinies as their re­spec­tive cam­paigns come to a nervy cli­max.

And Wolves are fo­cused on get­ting the job done next week­end, while Wi­gan will have to beat the drop with­out James McClean af­ter he saw red in in­jury-time.

“We have 75 points and if we can win next week then I think we’ll be un­lucky not to get into the top six on those type of fig­ures,” said Jack­ett.

“We have to fo­cus on do­ing our job and if we can do that then what­ever hap­pens we can build on this sea­son.

“We both had ev­ery­thing to play for and Wi­gan threw ev­ery­thing at us so it was an ex­cel­lent clean sheet from our point of view.

“It was a very hard-fought, com­pet­i­tive and feisty game.We de­fended their crosses very well and we al­ways looked a threat on the break.

“The goal was an ex­cel­lent free-kick and we had fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties go­ing into our own fans. I am de­lighted with the at­ti­tude of the play­ers.

“They bat­tled and fought for ev­ery­thing.”

McClean wrig­gled around the Wolves de­fence be­fore find­ing the side netting early on while Jer­maine Pen­nant went closer on 12 min­utes, forc­ing To­masz Kuszczak to tip his ef­fort over the bar.

Wolves took the lead how­ever when Afobe got in front of a clus­ter of Wan­der­ers play­ers all wait­ing to head home Bakary Sako’s 25th minute free-kick at the far post.

McLean dragged a shot wide as the Lat­ics sought an im­me­di­ate re­sponse and Boyce blazed over af­ter the ball was laid off to him six min­utes be­fore half-time.

Scott Car­son showed great re­ac­tions to palm away Dave Ed­wards’ glanc­ing header as he met the first of two Sakho cor­ners.

Dicko was then frus­trated when he failed to get a telling touch on the sec­ond.

Wi­gan had a goal ruled out on 75 min­utes when McClean’s goal­bound shot struck team­mate James Perch who in turn found the net af­ter an off­side Tim Chow played the ball back in.

Car­son then gath­ered Ed­wards’ shot from the edge of the Lat­ics penalty area and Maguire cleared Kevin Doyle’s 88th minute header off the line.

But McClean re­ceived a sec­ond yel­low and his march­ing or­ders for a chal­lenge on Richard Stear­man late on.

Wi­gan could now be con­demned to the drop by Rother­ham on Tues­day night, when they face Read­ing, but manager Gary Cald­well is pleased to be in with a shout for now.

He said: “The re­sult is all im­por­tant at this stage of the sea­son but our per­for­mance was ex­cel­lent at times.

“We played with real in­ten­sity go­ing for­ward and in de­fence and we caused Wolves prob­lems.

“We could know our fate be­fore next week­end but if it does go to the last day I know any­thing can hap­pen and we’ll be ready.

“We did cre­ate some good op­por­tu­ni­ties but not much in the way of clear cut chances.

“It is im­por­tant to add the fin­ish­ing touch to our good work but to con­cede when we did af­ter the way we started the game was a crime.

“Ev­ery­one showed a great com­mit­ment to the cause but the play­ers are frus­trated in the dress­ing room. But if it does go to the fi­nal day we’ll still be­lieve that any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

PIC­TURES:Ac­tion Images

HUSH: Benik Afobe cel­e­brates the win­ner Inset: He nods in the only goal

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