Conor McAleny condemned Rochdale to defeat at the DW Stadium as Wigan Athletic extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches.
It was a game which featured two foul throws, one for either side. This one was far from the 4-1 spectacles both of these sides served up three days earlier against Swindon and Southend respectively.
Sam Morsy tested Ashley Lillis from 25 yards early on, bringing out a decent save from the former Scunthorpe United ‘keeper.
Apart from that this attempt, there wasn’t much to report from the opening quarter other than a Wigan handball appeal.
Yanic fired towards goal from close range after a cross in from Ryan Colclough. His shot was stopped by the upper body of Ashley Eastham – or as the home fans saw it, his arm.
Ian Henderson saw red shortly after half an hour for kicking out at Jason Pearce, the fourth official alerting the referee of this ‘after-tackle challenge’. Keith Hill said post match that the club will consider appealing the decision, to the amusement of the press in attendance who couldn’t resist bursting into laughter.
Grant Holt’s return to the DW Stadium came from the subs bench and was met with a chorus of boos, despite the PA announcers plea for the fans to welcome him back.
David Perkins clattered Holt within seconds of the striker coming on, giving the Latics fans exactly what they had wanted.
The only goal of the game came shortly after, the end of what can only be described as an enthralling game of pinball football in the Rochdale penalty area. Conor McAleny challenged Ashley Eastham for the ball inside the six yard area and a collective effort from the pair of them saw the ball roll into the back of the net.
Holt almost got what he had came for, but he headed over the Wigan goal from a corner.
Dale changed their shape and went with two up front, however this was to no avail. Late pressure by Rochdale may have had some fearing an inevitable equaliser scored by yours truly, though in reflection Jussi Jaaskelainen’s clean sheet was never in doubt.
The win leaves Wigan six points clear of third placed Walsall who now have two games in hand over Gary Caldwell’s men.