POWELL’S POWER LIFTS THE LATICS
Ex-Red Devil is the hero late on
WIGAN interim boss Graham Barrow believes the star quality of Nick Powell could be the spark to save their season after a last-gasp win over Rotherham.
Powell’s 97th-minute freekick gave the Latics the win after Rotherham twice led through Danny Ward and Anthony Forde, with Gabriel Obertan and Alex Gilbey levelling.
But it was Powell’s explosive, though controversial, free-kick – after a fight between him and Rotherham goalkeeper Lewis Price – which sealed the points, and Barrow believes he was the only man to handle the pressure to score.
“Out of all the players, he was the one I wanted on it and if I was a betting man, I’d have put money on it,” said Barrow.
“I don’t want people getting carried away as Nick’s had limited training. I know how to treat him and that’s the response you get if you treat him the right way.
“With him on the pitch, you’ve got a chance of winning the game.
“Ours are an honest bunch of lads and the best of their abilities – the star quality – hasn’t been there all season. But that’s what Nick can do.
“We had an offensive team because we had to gamble. Being level or behind, it’s no good to us.
“I only saw the first bit of the free-kick, but had turned away after. Talking to [Rotherham goalkeeping coach] Mike Pollitt they’re fuming with their keeper.”
Relegated Rotherham took the lead on 29 minutes with some neat play, with Darnell Fisher’s sharp pass slammed home by Ward, who atoned for an earlier miss.
But it sparked the Latics into action and five minutes later former Manchester United man Obertan grabbed his first goal for the club with a composed finish from eight yards to level proceedings.
The Millers regained the lead on the hour with a howler from Jakob Haugaard as he failed to hold Forde’s weak left-footed shot from 20 yards.
Wigan levelled on 65 minutes as Obertan fed Gilbey on the counter and the former Colchester man fired past Price.
Powell was the matchwinner, smashing home a 20-yard freekick after he and Price were both lucky to stay on the pitch.
The free-kick was given against Price for an off-the-ball foul – leading to a bust-up with Powell – and the stopper was made to suffer when the former Manchester United lashed home.
United boss Paul Warne was disappointed to have not come away with a well-deserved point, but admitted he didn’t see the Powell versus Price incident.
Warne said: “From what I was told, my keeper kicked the ball and then it led to a ruckus.
“I don’t think the assistant saw it, did he? He never flagged. The fourth official never said anything to me and I wanted to speak to the officials.
“I actually appealed for a free-kick on my striker, thinking, ‘Great, 2-2 and half-aminute to go with a point’.
“I don’t wish bad luck on us, but I just thought if there was a footballing god, this wouldn’t go in.
“But my team didn’t deserve to lose so to come away with a defeat in such circumstances is hard to take.
“The sad thing for us was scoring but not hanging on to the lead long enough.”
OBER AND OUT: Wigan forward Gabriel Obertan hits the equaliser