Last-gasp Ikpeazu is comeback destroyer
GARY Caldwell warned his Wigan Athletic players that they cannot continue to give teams a head start on the road, as the Latics latest fight back was cancelled out at Vale Park by Uche Ikpeazu’s 90thminute winner.
Caldwell’s men scored three times in the last ten minutes to win at Chesterfield last week, but have now conceded at least twice in each of their four away fixtures this season.
Vale led 1-0 at half-time courtesy of a superb 25yard strike from midfielder Anthony Grant. Caldwell had wasted little time in responding, abandoning the Latics’ starting 34-1-2 in favour of 4-4-2.
But despite Caldwell’s changes, the hosts remained in the ascendancy and extended their lead when Louis Dodds smashed the ball home.
Vale’s second finally roused the visitors, with Chris McCann converting a Craig Davies pull-back to bring them back into the game.
Ben Purkiss could have restored the hosts’ twogoal lead when he arrived in the box 11 minutes from time, only to fire agonisingly over the bar.
And Purkiss was soon to regret his near miss all the more as Leon Barnett headed home a Michael Jacobs corner with seven minutes to go.
But the centre-back’s goalscoring heroics were cruelly cancelled out with a minute left, as he brought down Enoch Andoh with the Vale winger bearing down on goal.
Referee Mark Haywood was left with no choice but to give Barnett his marching orders, and Vale capitalised ruthlessly, with Watford loanee Ikpeazu finding the back of the net from pointblank range moments later.
“We can’t do it every week,” Caldwell reflected.
“We can’t expect to come back from two-nil down away from home and do miraculous things like we did last week at Chesterfield. It’s just not going to happen.
“We have to be braver from the start, we have to be better from the start, and we have to improve.
“It’s not good enough. I don’t think it’s defending, at times we defended very well.We dealt with Ikpeazu and his physical threat well.
“Passing the ball was a problem.”
But opposite number Rob Page was thrilled.
“I’m really pleased, because I think there were a few that were expecting us to crumble at the end and sort of roll over and let them take the three points,” Page said.
“We dug in, we had to, and, rightly so for me, we got the winner at the end.
“All we can worry about is giving that level of performance whoever we’re playing against, and hopefully the fans agree.”
STAR MAN ANTHO
NY GRANT PortVale