Latics on the rise
Lee Johnson was delighted as Latics made it back-to-back home wins in Sky Bet League 1 with a 2-1 victory against Swindon Town.
Goals from Carl Winchester and Danny Philliskirk lifted Latics to 16th place as they defeated a team which was in the play-off places this time last week.
"It was a great win because, make no mistake, they are a very good side and they have some very good players," explained Latics' manager.
Johnson added it was a measure of how well Latics defended in a tactical opening half that Swindon didn’t manage one goal attempt.
He described the second half as "exciting" as the game opened up and there was an abundance of chances and incident.
Latics' manager praised his players saying: "It was all about the lads today because, honestly, they had to dig deep to put in that effort, especially we have had such a lot of games.
"If we can win our game in hand and pick up three points at Notts County on Tuesday, we can start to look at getting into the top half of the table and punching above our weight."
Johnson made two changes from midweek as Adam Rooney was recalled to play against his former club while Kirk Millar also started.
The injured Joseph Mills lost out as did Cristian Montano who dropped down to the bench.
It was a low-key opening and it took until the 24th minute before either side carved out a chance.
Latics ought to have taken the lead when Winchester sent over a great cross, but Millar glanced a header wide from eight yards.
Winchester broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute through a fabulous solo effort from Winchester.
He began a galloping run on the half-way line and advanced forward before finding the net from 25 yards with a shot which looped over keeper Wes Foderingham and went in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was a spectacular strike, so good that Johnson says Winchester will be recording tonight's Football League Show so he has a permanent record of it.
The only dampener in the opening half was the booking collected by James Tarkowski. It was his fifth of the season so he will be banned for Tuesday’s match at Notts County,
"It was a harsh booking but one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity," explained Johnson.
Latics survived a couple of scares early in the second half but, on the third occasion, they weren’t so lucky.
Tarkowski slid in to cut out a low cross from Nathan Thompson only to slice the ball as it looped over the head of keeper Mark Oxley.
Johnson’s response was to send on Jonson Clarke-Harris for Millar. And he ought to have put Latics back in front midway through the half when he jinked clear only to pull his shot wide from eight yards when he looked certain to score.
Swindon remained a threat and Ryan Mason fired just wide of the upright as the visitors could have snatched the lead.
Winchester, who impressed bombing forward from right back, came close to scoring a second goal – before today he had done so only once in 33 games – but his shot was well beaten out by Foderingham.
Latics came up with a matchwinner in the 77th minute as Jonathan Grounds delivered a delightful cross from the right.
Philliskirk bravely dived in at the far post amongst flying boots to head home from a couple of yards. It was his fourth goal of the season, but his first-ever one in League football so a moment to savour and cherish.
The fact it was the matchwinner in such an important match – a defeat would have dropped them to third bottom – made it extra special for the striker.
The four minutes of added time provided further thrills and spills – no wonder Johnson by his own admission was like a ballerina on the touchline.
A difficult chance went to substitute Sidney Schmeltz who fired into the side netting from a cross by Rooney.
Swindon substitute Danny N'Guessan then had a goalbound shot blocked in a crowded goalmouth and the visitors sent up keeper Foderingham to try and salvage a point.
Latics then broke away with Foderingham stranded upfield. Schmeltz could have sprinted clear but decided to shoot from the half-way line.
His effort was on target, but so weakly hit that right-back Jack Barthram was able to dash back to clear. Fortunately it didn’t matter as the final whistle sounded moments later.
Latics (4-4-2): Oxley; Winchester, Kusunga, Tarkowski, Grounds; Philliskirk, Smith, Wesolowski, Dayton (Schmeltz 75); Millar (Clarke-Harris 62), Rooney. Subs (not used): Montano, Mellor, Rodgers, Joksts, Rachubka.
Swindon (3-5-2): Foderingham; N Thompson, Hall, Ward; Barthram, Luongo, Mason, Kasim, Byrne; Pritchard (N'Guessan 75), Ranger. Subs (not used): Waldon, L Thompson, Belford, Branco, Ajose, Gabas.
The goals: Winchester (32), Philliskirk (77) for Latics. Tarkowski (56 og) for Swindon.
The bookings: Tarkowski (38) for Latics. Kasim (62), Pritchard (73) for Swindon.
Referee: Mr J Simpson.
Attendance: 3,837 (293 visitors)