Striker secures second home win
Latics' second home victory of the season in Sky Bet League 1 was especially satisfying for Lee Johnson whose side beat Carlisle United 1-0.
Adam Rooney's first-half penalty (pictured) earned three important points after Latics' patchy run of results had seen them slide into the bottom six.
Johnson conceded his side didn't play its best football of the season but thought his young guns came of age with their game management.
He said: "I am really happy with the win because it was a tough game and we had to dig in.
"I get frustrated because I want to play champagne football all the time, but today the lads showed how they are growing up and I was stood there feeling confident we would see out the game.
"It was great for this group of lads to dig in and win a game like that when we didn't play as well as we have done and lost games.
"It wasn't a classic, vintage performance so far as tiki-taka soccer, but it was a big win for this group. That's three games unbeaten and two clean sheets which is good for the lads
"It's crazy how we have destroyed teams and not come out on the back of a win, but we have probably deserved that on a couple of occasions before and haven't got it.
"We have dug this one out and fair play to the boys. I believe they will have bonded by their work rate and energy they put in to keep a clean sheet."
Johnson made two changes from the team which won at Preston North End in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy as Mark Oxley and Charlie MacDonald were recalled in place of Paul Rachubka and Sidney Schmeltz.
There was a significant tactical change as Philliskirk switched wide right to enable MacDonald to partner Rooney up front.
Carlisle handed a debut to new-signing Pascal Chimbonda, the former Tottenham and QPR defender.
Rooney forced an early save from Carlisle ‘keeper Mark Gillespie, but received a let off not long after.
Joseph Mills was dispossessed near the by line and cut into the box before keeper Mark Oxley did well to beat out his angled shot.
Latics had to rejig their side after only quarter of an hour when MacDonald limped off with an ankle injury as Kirk Millar got an early chance to impress.
Millar, who had impressed Johnson in training yesterday, had an early chance when his drive was deflected narrowly wide for a corner.
The breakthrough came in the 25th minute when Latics won a penalty after referee Mark Heywood ruled that Rooney had been fouled by Conor Townsend (pictured).
Rooney picked himself up to squeeze home his spot kick despite the best efforts of Gillespie who got a strong hand to the ball low to his right.
Millar brought a decent save from Gillespie as Latics were the better side in the opening stages.
It was only late in the half that Carlisle became more of a threat as Matty Robson's free kick dipped just over the bar and David Amoo failed to connect in front of goal to a Robson cross as he looked certain to head home an equaliser.
The lively Millar almost made it 2-0 soon after the restart when he curled a shot from the edge of the box which looked set for the top corner only to land on the roof of the net.
James Wesolowski brought a decent save from Gillespie low to his left to beat out his drive.
Carlisle also had their moments as Mark Beck headed wide from six yards when completely unmarked.
Latics were still a threat going forward as Jonathan Grounds headed wide from a corner and James Tarkowski saw a header clear the crossbar following a Philliskirk free kick.
Substitute Lee Miller came close twice in quick succession to equalising moments after making his entrance.
First he headed wide and then another header brought a great save from Mark Oxley and Amoo's follow-up shot was blocked.
Latics could have sealed victory late on when Gillespie athletically tipped over a shot from James Dayton.
And from the resulting corner, Genseric Kusunga headed over at the far post as a second goal continued to elude them.
It made for a nervy five minutes of stoppage time, which had been signalled, but which became six-and-a-half, though Latics' game management was excellent as they didn't take any unnecessary risks to jeopardise their lead.
Latics (4-4-2): Oxley; Kusunga, Tarkowski, Grounds, Mills; Philliskirk, Smith, Wesolowski, Dayton; Rooney (Clarke-Harris 90+6), MacDonald (Millar 15). Subs (not used): Schmeltz, Montano, Winchester, Rodgers, Rachubka.
Carlisle (4-3-3): Gillespie; McSweeney (Miller 74), O’Hanlon, Chimbona, Townsend; Noble (Eccleston 46), Thirlwell, Berrett; Amoo, Beck (Symington 68), Robson. Subs (not used): Livesey, Potts, Fleming, Guy.
The goal: Rooney (26 pen) for Latics.
Bookings: Wesolowski (63), Kusunga (87), Tarkowski (89) for Latics. Beck (2), Berrett (81) for Carlisle.
Referee: Mr M Heywood.
Attendance: 4,478 (603 visitors)