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Rovers Suffer Defeat at Wigan

Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bristol Rovers

16 September 2017

Ten men Rovers were defeated at the DW Stadium, as hosts Wigan score at critical times to secure all three points.

Following an even opening thirty minutes, Rovers were reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Ryan Sweeney, who was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Michael Jacobs.

Wigan opened the scoring from set-piece following Sweeney's red card, with Nick Powell providing a measured finish to put the hosts ahead. 

Minutes after the restart Wigan managed to extend their lead, as Will Grigg was in the right place to benefit from a deflected cross, with the striker making no mistake from close range to extend Wigan's hold on the game.

Rovers had a late chance to ignite a comeback, but a penalty from Ellis Harrison was saved by Wigan 'keeper Jamie Jones, as Wigan added a third goal through Gavin Massey, as Rovers headed back to Bristol empty-handed.

In the build-up to the encounter, Rovers boss Darrell Clarke included defender Marc Bola in the starting eleven, marking his first EFL start for Rovers. 

In total there were four changes in the Rovers line-up, with Bola joined by Chris Lines, Sam Slocombe and Rory Gaffney as the new inclusion to the starting line-up following Tuesday's defeat at the Mem. 

The hosts, in turn, were unchanged from their mid-week encounter with Charlton, with Alex Bruce lining up to face Rovers for the second time already this campaign, following his outing in our fixture against Bury last month.

In the opening exchanges, both sides looked to enjoy phases of possession to settle into the game, with the both teams hosting the ball inside each other's half.

The first chance of the game fell to Will Grigg, as the hosts managed to squeeze a pass to the striker inside the Rovers area, with the forward taking a touch before turning to face goal. Goalkeeper Sam Slocombe was quick off his line to close down Grigg's angle on goal and was able to use his body to deflect the striker's eventual effort behind for a corner.

Rovers' defence stood steady early on and dealt with four early corners from the hosts with minimal threat on Sam Slocombe's goal. A low cross from the left caused Rovers some cause for concern, as Gavin Massey was able to beat his man to the near post to meet the delivery, but his glanced header was saved by Slocombe who made a fine reaction save from close-range. 

The game was turned on its head as the half-hour mark approached. Ryan Sweeny found himself in a foot race with Michael Jacobs, who was bearing down on the Rovers goal. The defender made up ground on Jacobs, but tangled with the midfielder on the edge of the Rovers area and after a spell of deliberation, the referee produced a red card to dismiss Sweeney.

From the resulting set-piece, Nick Powell managed to curl a free-kick past the wall and into the bottom right corner of the net, out of the reach of the diving Sam Slocombe to give the hosts a first-half lead. 

Manager Darrell Clarke introduced Tom Broadbent and the substitute played a vital part in keeping the goal deficit to just one goal, as the defender produced a goalline clearance to deny Gavin Massey just before the halftime break. 

Wigan managed to double their lead just minutes after the half-time interval with, as an attacking move down the right resulted in striker Will Grigg converting at the near-post following a deflected delivery across the area from full-back Nathan Byrne.  

Rovers had to withstand extended periods of pressure during the second half but managed to keep the tabs on the trio of Grigg, Toney and Jacobs at bay and kept the scoreline at 2-0 heading into the closing stages.

In the final ten minutes, Rovers increased the tempo to forge a way back into the game. Marc Bola won Rovers a free-kick in a dangerous position, with the set-piece rifled towards goal by Tom Nichols, with the ball striking Lee Evans' arm inside the box in the process. 

Ellis Harrison stood of the resulting penalty, but after directing his effort into the bottom left corner, the striker witnessed a fine save from Jamie Jones which did enough to push his effort around the post.

In stoppage time the hosts added a third, as Gavin Massey provided an emphatic finish to beat Slocombe from the edge of the area to end of a disappointing day for Rovers.

Wigan Athletic: Jamie Jones (GK), Nathan Byrne, Samy Morsy (C) (82' Max Power), Lee Evans, Will Grigg (70' Gary Roberts), Gavin Massey, Alex Bruce, Michael Jacobs, Nick Powell (36' Ivan Toney), Reece James, Dan Burn.

Rovers: Sam Slocombe (GK), Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Lockyer (C), Ryan Sweeney, Marc Bola, Chris Lines, Ollie Clarke, Liam Sercombe, Billy Bodin (56' Tom Nichols), Ellis Harrison, Rory Gaffney (33' Tom Broadbent).

Attendance: 8,732 (810 away)

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