AFOBE KEEPS WOLVES IN THE HUNT
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.”
HUSH: Benik Afobe celebrates the winner Inset: He nods in the only goal