Wigan Athletic lost ground on the top of League One as they rescued a point in an epic 3-3 draw against Scunthorpe United at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
The Latics could only gain salvage a draw in what was their 400th league match at the DW Stadium, as substitute Gary Roberts made it all square four minutes before the end.
Wigan went ahead through Chey Dunkley’s header but the home side were pegged back soon after as Tom Hopper equalised.
Paul Cook’s side then took the lead again through Will Grigg but in a similar situation to the first, Hopper made it 2-2 with a quick reply.
Former Latics loanee Ivan Toney came back to haunt his ex-teammates, as he put United in front for the first time. However, Roberts, who came off the bench just minutes before, scored the goal that saw the game conclude 3-3.
A return for Toney
In terms of team news, David Perkins and Reece James came back into the Wigan side, as Gavin Massey was dropped to the bench whilst Callum Elder was rested.
For Scunthorpe, on-loan Newcastle striker Ivan Toney made his return to the DW Stadium after he played for the Latics earlier on in the season.
An exhilarating first half
Wigan started the game well with constant pressure inside Scunthorpe’s half.
The first chance fell to Will Grigg as Max Power’s deflected shot found the Irishman in the penalty area but his shot on the half volley just went wide.
Power then worked well with David Perkins to find Byrne on the right side. The right back’s cross met the head of Michael Jacobs but his effort went over.
The home side’s chances paid off in the 12th minute as Chey Dunkley headed past former Latics man Matt Gilks. Power’s corner was greeted by the centre back whose glancing header beat the keeper and found the back of the net to give Wigan the lead.
However, Scunthorpe replied three minutes later through Tom Hopper. The striker’s header looped over Christian Walton from close range, as he was denied by the post just seconds before.
Wigan responded well to United’s equaliser as Power’s deliveries into the box caused all sorts of problems in the Iron’s line. His corner was headed over the bar by Dunkley before a powerful cross fizzled past the goal line.
Two minutes before the break, Wigan fired back in front through Will Grigg. The striker’s shot from inside the box deflected off a Scunthorpe defender and ended up in the back of the net with Gilks watching on.
— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) March 10, 2018
Jacobs almost gave his side a comfortable lead as his 30-yard strike forced a save from Gilks on his left post.
The visitors levelled things up again two minutes into added time at the end of the first half. Neal Bishop’s cross was headed by Hopper and his leaping effort went over Walton in what was an almost carbon copy of his first.
A dogged second half by both sides
Wigan came out in the second half on the front foot as they had two chances in quick succession.
Grigg knocked the ball down to Jacobs in the area but as the ball came off his knee, it was cleared off the line by Bishop.
Nick Powell then struck from the edge of the box but his shot just went wide of the post.
Wigan got their fourth corner, with just five minutes gone of the second half as Dan Burn rose the highest but he saw his effort go wide of the far post.
A skilful run down the left edge by Jacobs opened up space in the Iron defence. His ball into the box found Power at the back post but his header was parried away by Gilks.
Ironically, after all of Wigan’s dominance, it was Scunthorpe who went ahead. Ivan Toney put his side in the driving seat for the first time as he scored from close range. A Josh Morris cross was met by the head of Ryan Yates but his effort hit the bar before the ball came to Toney who volleyed past Walton into the right corner.
🕐 53’ WIGAN ATHLETIC 2-3 IRON: IT’S IVAN TONEY, WHO ELSE!? Morris’ cross from the left is met brilliantly by Yates, who sees his header hit the bar. Who was there? Ivan Toney to control and smash into the net. THE IRON LEAD! #UTI
— Scunthorpe United FC (@SUFCOfficial) March 10, 2018
The Latics looked for a instant reply and it nearly came through Grigg as the ball fell to him in the area but his shot went wide of the right post.
In the 86th minute, Wigan found their equaliser through substitute Gary Roberts. Centre back Dan Burn found Roberts on the left side and he executed the time and space he had to slot a deflected shot into the right corner of the net.
A dramatic finish rounded off a breathless game of League One action at the DW Stadium as the game finished 3-3.
A point earned or two points dropped?
The point for Wigan sees them consolidate 3rd place in the Sky Bet League One table.
However, Paul Cook’s men lose ground on first place, as Blackburn are now eight points clear of Wigan. The Latics do have four games in hand over Rovers and two over Shrewsbury who sit in 2nd place on 71 points.
As for Scunthorpe, it is a point which cements their place in the top six, as they now hold a five point gap between 7th place Peterborough, although they have played two games more.
— Sky Bet League One (@SkyBetLeagueOne) March 10, 2018
The managers thoughts
Latics boss, Paul Cook told Wigan Athletic after the game: “It wasn’t a great day for us today in any shape or form but great credit to the players – you’ve got to give them that.
“We never looked like getting a point and we’ve dug a point out that come the end of the season…could prove to be crucial.”
Cook praised Scunthorpe as he said: “There’s no easy games in this division. We’ve played against a very good side today and we took a point.
“Am I pleased with the point? No, but at the end of the day do we have to take it from a losing position? Yes – there’s plenty of games to go.”
Iron chief, Graham Alexander told Scunthorpe United: “My thoughts are the same as the players, we’re disappointed we didn’t take the three points because we felt the performance warranted it, as we came to a fantastic club doing exceptional things and scored three goals.
“We could have had more, and I thought it was a fantastic game of football.”
Alexander added: “We’re still in a fantastic position and showed today that we have nothing to be scared of.”
Forward Gary Roberts, who saved his side a point with the sixth goal of the game, spoke to Wigan Athletic about the frustration of his team’s performance, Scunthorpe’s attacking intent and Tuesday’s game against Bradford City.