Wigan 1-2 Sheffield United: Blades cement second-place spot in the Championship
Sheffield United cemented their second-place spot in the Championship with a hard-fought but ultimately deserved 2-1 victory at struggling Wigan.
John Egan put United in front early in the first half and Billy Sharp added a second before Nathan Broadhead got one back for Wigan.
In Kolo Toure’s first home game in charge, Wigan engineered a massive chance inside 80 seconds, when the midfield opened up for Will Keane, who advanced before drilling just over the bar.
The home side also had a shout for a penalty when Tom Naylor’s shot appeared to be blocked by a visiting hand or arm, but referee Dean Whitestone waved play on.
Wigan had a huge escape when goalkeeper Jamie Jones saved brilliantly to deny Iliman Ndiaye, before Curtis Tilt blocked the follow-up from Sander Berge.
But the respite was only temporary, with the Blades opening the scoring from the resulting corner, with Egan planting a free header into the roof of the net in the eighth minute.
Wigan were almost in when a James McClean volley was spilled by Wes Foderingham, but the offside flag was up before Broadhead could turn in the rebound, which was blocked anyway.
The visitors were looking dangerous every time they attacked, and Wigan were indebted to Tilt for a superb block to deny James McAtee.
It was almost 2-0 to the Blades when Latics lost possession at the back, and Sharp’s backheel took Jack Whatmough out of the game.
McAtee advanced and only a superb save from Jones kept the ball out.
That was Whatmough’s last involvement, with the big centre-back limping off to be replaced by Rarmani Edmonds-Green.
The new man’s first action came just before the interval, when he looked as though he had his shirt pulled as he tried to get his head to a corner.
Credit to United, they kept Wigan at arm’s length, and doubled their advantage 11 minutes after the restart.
Again Wigan were the architects of their own downfall, with captain Tendayi Darikwa giving the ball away, and watching on in horror as Sharp punished him with a deadly finish.
That prompted a double change, with Ryan Nyambe and Thelo Aasgaard replacing Joe Bennett and Darikwa.
And Aasgaard almost made a difference within seconds of his introduction, after Callum Lang had seen a shot brilliantly parried out by Foderingham.
The rebound fell to Aasgaard, whose goal-bound effort looked to be saved on the line by the hand of a United defender, only for the referee to once again elect not to whistle.
Wigan did pull one back in the 65th minute when McClean’s cross-shot was fumbled by Foderingham into the path of Broadhead, who could not miss from a yard.
Replays showed the Wigan man was clearly offside from McClean’s touch, but again the officials failed to spot it.
United held on for the final quarter to close the gap on leaders Burnley to only three points.