How Middlesbrough's Chuba Akpom extended Kolo Toure’s miserable start to life as Wigan boss
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Akpom moved top of the Sky Bet Championship goal standings and took his tally to 12 for the season with his second-half strikes.
He secured three points for Boro after Marcus Forss had opened the scoring in the first half, as Michael Carrick’s side closed the gap on the top six. Wigan remain in the relegation zone.
Boro were the better of the two sides in the early exchanges but the visitors could have opened the scoring against the run of play just after the quarter of an hour mark when Nathan Broadhead created space to shoot on the edge of the box but was denied by Zack Steffen.
Wigan were troubled by Duncan Watmore’s energy and Isaiah Jones and Ryan Giles on the flanks, and two of the three combined to tee up the opener in the 27th minute. Watmore was alive to the possibility of a quick throw-in from Jones and wriggled into space before picking out Forss in the box to poke home for his third goal of the season.
Wigan responded well and Boro had Darragh Lenihan to thank when the centre-half blocked a Callum Lang shot from inside the box after good build-up down the right.
From the resulting corner, Charlie Hughes should have levelled but he headed over from close range.
Boro were forced into a change at the break when West Brom loanee Alex Mowatt replaced Jonny Howson. And Mowatt kick-started the fine team move that led to Boro’s second goal just four minutes into the second half.
He found midfield partner Hayden Hackney, who spotted the advanced Ryan Giles with a perfectly measured through-ball. Giles took the pass in his stride and teed up Akpom to slot home.
Boro were in the mood and almost had their third through Forss 10 minutes into the second half, the striker’s effort deflecting just wide of the far post.
Four minutes later it was 3-0, Giles and Akpom combining again, with the former Arsenal striker latching onto a deflected Giles through-ball and superbly finding the far corner with his left foot.
The visiting fans had something to cheer when the unmarked Thelo Aasgard broke through in the 62nd minute, firing home after meeting a Max Power cross from the right.
However, an unlikely comebacks was never on the cards and Akpom completed his hat-trick in stoppage time, meeting another Giles cross to put the finishing touch on a brilliant afternoon for Boro.