United victorious at Wigan's DW Stadium...
WIGAN 0, UNITED 1 (Mowatt 51)
Wigan: Carson, Maguire, Boyce (Kvist 67), Perch, Pearce, Bong, Pennant (Cowie 46), Kim, Ojo, McClean, Fortune (McKay 78). Subs. Al Habsi, McCann, Barnett, Waghorn.
United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba, Berardi, Cook, Murphy, Mowatt, C Taylor, Morison (Cani 87), Sharp (Antenucci 87). Subs. S Taylor, Del Fabro, Adryan, Doukara, Phillips.
Referee: G Eltringham
Booked: Pearce (Wigan), Murphy, Bamba, Sharp, Wootton (United)
Att: 16,163 (4,698 United)
The visit to Wigan Athletic's DW Stadium saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make two changes from the midweek victory over Ipswich Town as Gaetano Berardi replaced Liam Cooper in defence, while Steve Morison returned in place of Sam Byram.
There was little between the sides during the early stages but it was United who had the afternoon’s first sight of goal on eight minutes as Sol Bamba’s towering header was clutched by Scott Carson after Luke Murphy’s corner had found the defender rising inside the area.
Morison then lashed across the face of goal after being forced into a tight angle before Alex Mowatt dragged wide from the edge of the box as Redfearn’s side asked early questions of the hosts' defence.
At the opposite end, Sheyi Ojo curled a cross inches away from Marco Silvestri’s far post, while Charlie Taylor threatened from range after being invited to shoot, only to see his effort fly over Carson’s bar.
Bamba had to stand firm to deny Wigan their first real opening, deflecting Kim Bo-Kyung’s strike behind for a corner, but it was United doing the majority of the pressing in a largely uneventful opening 35 minutes in Lancashire.
The best chance of the half came three minutes before the interval as Mowatt picked out the arriving Morison, unmarked inside the area with a cross from deep, but the striker blasted his volley high over the bar.
Berardi could only pick out the arms of Carson after trying his luck from range, while Silvestri had Marc-Antoine Fortune’s effort covered at his near post on the stroke of half-time.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot and half-time substitute Don Cowie was involved almost immediately, seeing his strike blocked by Giuseppe Bellusci inside the area, before Silvestri got down well to his right to push away James McClean’s low effort which appeared destined for the bottom corner.
But it was United who broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion within six minutes of the restart courtesy of Mowatt’s eighth of the season. Billy Sharp teed up the midfielder on the edge of the box and Mowatt hammered home his second goal in the space of a week with a stunning strike which had Carson flying across his line as it sailed into the top corner.
Wigan looked to mount a quick response and the United defence had to hold firm amid a flurry of balls into the box, before Silvestri was again alert to push away McClean’s low effort.
And the blue and white shirts continued to pile forward in search of an equaliser, but those in gold were equal to everything thrown their way. Taylor relieved some pressure on his side with an arrowed strike over the bar as the game passed the hour-mark.
The home crowd thought they had drawn level on 72 minutes as McClean’s ferocious half-volley skimmed the side-netting following further waves of pressure. Ojo was then inches away from an equaliser with a low strike across Silvestri's goal and wide of the far post.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes, James Perch looped a header onto the roof of the net, before Redfearn was prompted into his first changes of the afternoon, replacing Morison and Sharp with Edgar Cani and Mirco Antenucci in attack.
Silvestri was forced into his finest save of the afternoon in the first of seven minutes added time, acrobatically tipping over McClean’s goal-bound free-kick. Harry Maguire then headed over the resulting corner before further spells of Wigan pressure, but United held on to secure back-to-back victories.