Tom Ince’s brilliant free-kick just after the hour mark gave Reading a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship victory at Wigan.
Ince’s strike settled the game and earned the Royals a fifth win in seven matches.
The opening to the game was played at a procession pace with very little happening before both sides created, but could not take, really good chances just before the half-hour mark.
For Reading, Junior Hoilett got to the byline and pulled it back to Lucas Joao, who fired over the bar from eight yards.
At the other end, Wigan skipper Tendayi Darikwa – back after a dislocated shoulder – crossed and Josh Magennis’ flick header floated just wide of the far post.
Wigan were then indebted to centre-back Curtis Tilt for a phenomenal piece of defending when Joao looked a certain scorer from a left-wing cross. Somehow Tilt managed to get across the attacker and hooked the ball away from danger, to Joao’s astonishment.
With neither goalkeeper being called upon in the first half, the game livened up after the break.
Ince’s inswinging free-kick from the right flew all the way through the home box and only just past the far post.
Hoilett then sent in another teasing delivery from the right but this time Tom McIntyre could only divert the ball off target.
But the Royals continued to press and eventually broke the deadlock after 63 minutes.
Ince lined up a free-kick 20 yards from goal, in an ideal position for a left-footer. His connection was perfect and the ball flew over the wall and past Ben Amos into the back of the Wigan net.
Wigan’s response was strong and Will Keane almost levelled the scores within five minutes. However, his flick header from James McClean’s cross hit the inside of the far post, with the ball rolling back along the line before being hacked clear.
Reading missed a great chance to kill the game after 73 minutes when McIntyre’s cross led to a free header for Ince eight yards out, but the goalscorer could only head into the ground and the ball bounced over and wide of the target.
Seconds later at the other end, Wigan wasted an even better opportunity to score. Callum Lang raced clean through on goal but elected to hit the bouncing ball on the half-volley and blazed high over the crossbar.
It was end to end stuff at this point, with substitute Yakou Meite being played in by Ince, but Amos was off his line in a flash to make a fine block.
Wigan were boosted by eight added minutes but substitute Charlie Wyke headed Max Power’s cross over with their closest effort.
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