Danny Wilson’s unbeaten run as Chesterfield manager came to an end on Saturday at the DW Stadium as Wigan Athletic defeated the Spireites 3-1.
Max Power’s sixth minute strike put the hosts ahead before two goals in a minute from Reece James and Michael Jacobs gave Wigan a dominant half-time advantage.
Half-time substitute Ollie Banks pulled one back for the Spireites late on, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation as Wilson’s side suffered defeat for the first time in 2016.
Chesterfield’s resurgence under their new manager, a run epitomised by a 7-1 demolition of Shrewsbury Town, meant that 5th placed Wigan Athletic were far from guaranteed to have it all their own way on the Spireites’ first visit to the DW Stadium since 2003.
But an early blow made the visitors’ challenge much more difficult. Following a dominant start, Power was picked out on the edge of the area and the 22-year-old unleashed an unstoppable effort that beat goalkeeper Tommy Lee to his top right-hand corner.
It was a disappointing start for the Derbyshire club but they responded well as they searched for a way back into the contest.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake almost pounced when Jussi Jaaskelainen palmed Jay O’Shea’s low strike, but the veteran striker couldn’t get to the ball before it was cleared away by the defence.
Lee Novak and Ebanks-Blake then each sent half-chances wide of the target before the Spireites’ best chance of the game so far arrived in the 35th minute.
A counter attack saw possession nicked from Haris Vuckic during a Wigan attack. The long, lofted ball forward found Ebanks-Blake, who in turn put O’Shea through free on goal. Unfortunately for the noisy 1,058 travelling supporters however, Jaaskelainen managed to charge down the danger before the Irishman could get a telling touch to the ball.
The Latics made Chesterfield pay for missed opportunities shortly before the break with two goals in a minute.
Defender James slotted past Lee from inside the area to make it 2-0. And almost immediately from the restart Jacobs broke through on goal before poking past a helpless Lee to put the hosts in an almost unassailable position.
Of course it was only almost unassailable as Wigan had been in this very position in midweek before eventually drawing 3-3 with Sheffield United.
But the 2013 FA Cup winners appeared to have learned a valuable lesson and made sure not to take their foot off the gas – dominating the early periods of the second half as Power and Jacobs both forced save from Lee.
The introduction of Rai Simons almost caused an instant impact as the Bermudan youngster forced a good save under pressure from Jaaskelainen. But while the Spireites did improve towards the end of the contest, a combination of too many loose passes and a lack of clinical finishing continued to cost them.
Banks did cause a few nerves around the DW Stadium with eleven minutes to go when he hammered home from inside the area after Novak had been dragged off the ball seconds earlier.
However, the hosts ran down the clock relatively comfortably to ensure they took all three points to move six games unbeaten.
The Spireites now look to bounce back from defeat with another tricky contest next Saturday as they host Millwall at the Proact Stadium.
Wigan Athletic (3)
Line-up: Jaaskelainen, James (Chow ’85), Perkins, Daniels, Power, Jacobs, Morgan, Pearce, Vuckic (Davies ’70), Hiwula (Wildschut ’80), Wabara
Unused subs: Nicholls, Barnett, Hendry, Holt
Scorers: Power ‘6, James ’38, Jacobs ’39
Line-up: Lee, Herd (Talbot ’46), Hird, Morsy, Gardner (Banks ’46), Ebanks-Blake (Simons ’65), O’Shea, Novak, O’Neil, Raglan, Donohue
Unused subs: Chapman, Gnanduillet, Harrison, Maguire
Scorers: Banks ’79
Date: 16th January 2016
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