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Huddersfield Town 1 - 4 Wigan Athletic: Examiner FA Cup match report

BATTLING Town were undone by touches of Premiership class in front of 12,117 and the live ITV cameras.

Oliver Norwood after Wigan score their fourth

BATTLING Huddersfield Town were undone by touches of Premiership class in front of 12,117 and the live ITV cameras.

New boss Mark Robins watched his charges struggle to cope with Wigan’s slick passing and movement as the visitors took a two-goal half-time lead.

And even though Town played much better in the second period and pulled one back through sub Lee Novak, they conceded late on to give the scoreline a harsher look than they deserved.

Robins, who got a terrific reception from Town’s fans before kick-off, made four changes to the team which won the fourth round replay at Leicester with skipper Peter Clarke back wearing the captain’s armband after two weeks out suffering concussion and Alex Smithies back in goal.

Jack Hunt was restored at right back and Neil Danns into midfield, as Town chased a place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1972. Wigan had several fringe players in their starting line-up as they hunted a first-ever win in Huddersfield.

Their 12th visit to this part of West Yorkshire began in a frenetic fashion with Town conceding a couple of early free kicks.

Callum McManaman proved a real thorn in Town’s side down the left flank and he was at the hub of almost all Wigan’s best moves.

On five minutes he turned Hunt inside out before crossing for Jordi Gomez to head onto the roof of the net and then, seven minutes later, another dangerous cross was hacked to safety by Clarke.

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Fraser Fyvie tried his luck with along-range shot as the Latics kept up the pressure and then, after 25 minutes, McMananam caused problems again and provided a low cross from which Arouna Kone seemed certain to score, but he couldn’t reach the ball with the goal at his mercy.

Town’s best early efforts came with a Danns header just wide before Calum Woods provided an excellent left wing cross for Lee, but he headed high.

With Wigan dominating possession and territory Town finally fell behind – conceding two goals in eight minutes.

Firstly, on 31 minutes, McManaman had the home defence back-peddling and as he forced his way into the box he found room for a crisp drive beyond Smithies.

Soon after Roger Espinoza tried a long range shot that went wide before Wigan increased their lead on 39 minutes.

Again McMananam was the main tormentor as he coasted past Hunt and, from his cross, Smithies could only get fingers to the ball and Kone was on hand to flick the ball home from close range.

Robins, Town’s third manager in as many rounds of the FA Cup this season, made two changes for the second half, aiming to liven things up with a new twin strike force of James Vaughan and Novak, the latter making his return after a foot injury.

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The move almost paid off within two minutes as a silly square pass by Wigan right back Paul Scharner was seized upon by Vaughan, whose low shot was blocked by the legs of keeper Joel Robles.

Scharner then made amends by nodding back to the keeper with Novak in hot pursuit, while at the other end Maynor Figueroa blazed a shot into the side-netting.

Town desperately need a goal, but it was Wigan who put the result to bed with 56 minutes on the clock when a neat move on the left released the impressive James McArthur and he fired an unstoppable rising drive beyond the diving Smithies.

Town rallied and on 62 minutes they gained a lifeline when Woods’ cross was powerfully headed home by Novak.

Town produced some encouraging spells of pressure after the goal, and put the Wigan defence on the back foot for the majority of the closing stages.

Vaughan, with a flying header from Hunt’s cross after 71 minutes, went closest to registering a second for Town while Robins will have been pleased with the way his team kept probing.

It was a shame that at the death a mistake by Anthony Gerrard allowed Kone to hammer in a fourth for the visitors.

 

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