Latics v Shrewsbury Town
Jonathan Grounds was an unlikely matchwinner for Latics who made it back-to-back victories in npower League One against Shrewsbury Town at Boundary Park.
Grounds’s first goal for Latics (pictured), the only one of the game, on his 21st appearance for the club came on the day he was handed a new position.
The left back, pushed into midfield due to Cristian Montano being ruled out through suspension, relished his more advanced role in the team.
What the difference a week has made as the mood of gloom after last Saturday’s 4-1 defeat Bournemouth has been replaced by one of optimism after wins against Hartlepool and Shrewsbury lifted Latics to 16th place.
Paul Dickov conceded his team had played better before this season and lost.
Latics’ manager said: "After the defeat at Bournemouth, it was important we picked up six points from the next two games.
"And to be fair to the players they have done that, even though we have not been at our best football wise in both games, but the boys have shown steel in both of them.
"We have shown a lot of endeavour and energy and we defended very well."
Dickov added he knew it would be a battle after viewing the CD of the Shrews’ 2-2 draw against high-flying Milton Keynes Dons in midweek.
He continued: "Karl Robinson (MK Dons’ manager) told me Shrewsbury’s front four were the best they had played against so we knew we would have to be solid defensively.
"To keep a clean sheet as well as getting the three points will give the boys confidence going into next week's two games against Doncaster Rovers."
Latics were without suspended eight-goal Jose Baxter and left-winger Montano as Grounds returned after a one-match ban and Matt Smith was handed a rare starting spot.
The breakthrough came in the13th minute and was down to a fabulous piece of footwork from Matt Derbyshire to leave Shrews’ defender Jermaine Grandison for dead.
He whipped in a low crossed from the right which was only palmed out by keeper Chris Weale and Grounds fired home from eight yards with a right-foot shot.
It was the only clear-cut chance Latics created in the opening half, though a number of dangerous crosses fizzed across the face of goal without anybody getting on the end of them.
Shrewsbury’s best chance was a free kick from Matt Richards which bent over the defensive wall forcing Dean Bouzanis into a diving save.
Shrewsbury were more of a threat in the second period without ever threatening to hurt Latics.
Mark Wright’s shot stretched Bouzanis, Marvin Morgan blazed into the side netting and Luke Rodgers’ goalbound shot was well blocked by Jean-Yves M’voto.
Midway through the half, Cliff Byrne’s header looped over and Lee Croft had a shot defelcted for a corner.
Shrewsbury finished the stronger as Luke Summerfield’s free kick dipped inches over the bar while Jon Taylor had a couple of chances. They also had a shout for a penalty waved away by referee Stuart Attwell when Morgan looked to be impeded by Byrne as he burst into the box.
For all their possession, though, Shrewsbury rarely threatened to score and it turned out to be a comfortable 1-0 victory for Latics.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Wabara, Byrne, M’voto, Brown; Croft, Furman, Wesolowski, Grounds; Smith, Derbyshire. Subs (not used): Jacob, Taylor, Millar, M’Changama, Winchester, Sutherland, Mellor.
Shrewsbury (4-4-2): Weale; Gayle, Grandison, Jones, Jacobson; Taylor, Summerfield, Richards, Wright (Wildig 77); Morgan, Rodgers (Doble 84). Subs (not used): Anyon, Purdie, Bradshaw, Hall, Goldson.
The goal: Grounds (13) for Latics.
Bookings: Furman (26), Smith (29), Wabara (71) for Latics.
Referee: Mr S Attwell.
Attendance: 3,886 (589 visitors).