Watford win at Wigan as Joao Pedro strikes late on
Joao Pedro headed home the only goal with three minutes left at the DW Stadium to give improving Watford a 1-0 victory at Sky Bet Championship strugglers Wigan.
Pedro’s effort earned Slaven Bilic’s side a third win in four games that leaves them two points off the play-off places.
But Wigan have lost six of their last seven matches and sit two points above the relegation zone.
Wigan started the stronger and were asking all the early questions of the Watford defence and a free-kick from James McClean saw top scorer Will Keane head against the outside of the post from close range.
The hosts almost engineered shooting chances for Nathan Broadhead and Graeme Shinnie, with Watford not offering much of a threat.
That changed in the blink of an eye when a brilliant one-two cut open the Wigan defence, allowing Ismaila Sarr a free run on goal. But Wigan goalkeeper Jamie Jones – in for Ben Amos – was off his line in a flash to pull off a fantastic save at close range.
Wigan were almost in again when Keane attempted to bring down a pass over his shoulder on the turn, only for his touch to drop half a yard too far in front of him which allowed Daniel Bachmann to gather the ball.
A McClean corner was headed back in by Max Power into the path of Keane, who could not keep his shot on target.
Watford started the second period in a much more positive fashion, with Pedro’s cross from the left finding Ken Sema at the far post, but his header was straight into the ground and Jones made an easy save.
Vakoun Bayo then thought he was in only for Jones to again race off his line to make the intervention.
Wigan’s growing frustration showed when Shinnie left one on William Troost-Ekong on the edge of the Watford box, earning his fifth caution of the campaign and a one-game ban.
As Watford pushed for a late winner, Sarr looked a certain scorer when substitute Samuel Kalu skipped his way through on the right-hand side of the box. The pass was perfect, but Jack Whatmough came out of nowhere to make a phenomenal block at the expense of a corner.
Wigan threw on Josh Magennis and Tom Naylor to add some fresh legs for the last few minutes.
But it was Watford who managed to find a breakthrough with only three minutes remaining when substitute Yaser Asprilla’s cross was nodded home by Pedro.
The home side were given heart when the fourth official signalled seven added minutes would be played.
And they almost grabbed a dramatic equaliser with the very last touch of the game when Power’s corner was headed against the crossbar by Whatmough, and it was immediately followed by the referee’s whistle.