Scunthorpe United v Latics
Paul Dickov praised the character, resilience and never-say-die spirit of his players as 10-man Latics overcame a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 at Scunthorpe United.
Latics’s manager admitted halting a four match losing run in npower League One became an even bigger challenge in the wake of events at Glanford Park.
Not only did Latics have to overcome an awful opening, but also the handicap of having to play almost half an hour with 10 men following James Wesolowski’s sending off.
Dickov said: "After finding ourselves 2-0 down on the back of losing our last four games, the boys showed great character to get back into the match.
"At 2-2 when it was 11 versus 11, we were going to storm it.
"After the sending off, which was a ridiculous situation, the desire and fight of the 10 men to hold on and not lose the match was fantastic."
Dickov added there was slightly disappointment Latics didn't win but, in the light of falling 2-0 down and having Wesolowski sent off, remarked it was a good point.
Latics made two changes from the team which was beaten at home by Crewe on Saturday as Jean-Yves M’voto and Cristian Montano won recalls as Connor Brown and Youssouf M’Changama stood down.
Dickov, assisted by Paul Gerrard, Tony Philliskirk and Mick Priest in the wake of changes made to the backroom team, made a bright start.
There was a stroke of fortune in the eighth minute, however, when Jimmy Ryan’s header struck the crossbar and looked clearly to the naked eye to have crossed the line as it bounced down. In the absence of goalline technology, there was no conclusive evidence so referee Richard Clark waved play on.
The reprieve was only temporary as Latics fell behind after quarter of an hour.
Karl Hawley broke away and forced a good save from Dean Bouzanis who turned over his fierce shot. From the resulting short corner, Ryan’s shot was well parried by Latics’ keeper only for centre-half Niall Canavan to slot home the loose ball.
Latics found themselves 2-0 down four minutes later when Mark Duffy twisted and turned to create an opening on the left of the penalty area before firing low into the far corner.
They were also dealt another blow midway through the half when Montano had to leave the pitch on a stretcher after he was hurt after he was fouled on the edge of the box. He was replaced by M’Changama.
Latics were handed a way back into the match after 35 minutes when centre-back Cliff Byrne scored his first goal for the club, ironically against the team where he spent almost 10 years as a player until last summer.
Matt Smith headed on Reece Wabara’s free kick and Byrne nipped in at the near post to nod home high into the net.
In an exciting finish to the opening period, both sides could have scored.
Bouzanis dropped an Andy Barcham cross, but Ryan fired wide as the Iron could have re-established a two-goal advantage. Then at the opposite end, Smith’s header from a Jose Baxter cross forced a diving save from keeper Sam Slocombe.
Latics were on the front foot from the restart without seriously looking like finding an equaliser.
The leveller eventually came midway through the period from the penalty spot.
Smith went sprawling in the box after he challenged aerially with Canavan to meet Baxter’s free kick.
Baxter scored from the spot with a cheeky chip down the centre of goal as Slocombe dived low to his right. It was the striker’s 10th goal for Latics.
The joy at drawing level disappeared within three minutes after Latics were reduced to 10 men following Wesolowski’s sending off after the intervention of the fourth official following a challenge by Damien Mozika.
Latics denied Wesolowki kicked Mozika in the head as he lay on the ground as the fourth official claimed. Club officials will study the DVD of the incident before considering an appeal.
The Iron’s response was to bring on former Wigan Athletic striker Nathan Ellington who had two chances in quick succession, but was unable to hit the target on both occasions.
Latics replaced Lee Croft with Carl Winchester with 15 minutes left to strengthen their midfield.
Though the Iron enjoyed the lion’s share of possession late on, they rarely troubled a well disciplined Latics’ defence.
Scunthorpe (4-5-1): Slocombe; Ribeiro, Reid, Canavan, Newey; Duffy, Ryan (Ellington 70), Collins, Mozika, Barcham; Hawley. Subs (not used): Severn, Kennedy, Grella, Gibbons, Godden, Djeziri.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Wabara, Byrne, M’voto, Grounds; Croft (Winchester 75), Wesolowski, Furman, Montano (M’Changama 25); Baxter, Smith. Subs (not used): Cisak, Brown, Tarkowski, Taylor, Millar.
The goals: Canavan (15), Duffy (19) for Scunthorpe. Byrne (35), Baxter (65 pen) for Latics.
Sending off: Wesolowski (68) for Latics.
Bookings: Reid (42), Mozika (64), Hawley (64) for Scunthorpe. M’Changama (32), Baxter (68), Furman (69) for Latics.
Referee: Mr R Clark
Attendance: 3,116 (256 visitors)