Another dark day at the DW – Wigan Athletic 1 Oxford United 2

Thelo Aasgaard scored his first goal for Latics first team

Thelo Aasgaard scored his first goal for Latics’ first team

Wigan Athletic succumbed to another defeat at the DW Stadium, this time against fellow strugglers Oxford United.

Latics were outplayed for much of the game and went behind when Matty Taylor produced a smart finish for the visitors on 61 minutes.

A mistake by substitute Alex Perry allowed Oxford to increase their lead on 86 minutes when Alex Henry converted Sean Clare’s cross.

The hosts rallied late on and reduced the arrears on 89 minutes through substitute Thelo Aasgaard’s glancing header.

But the visitors held on to record a valuable victory and extend Latics’ miserable run of results.

Latics are now joint bottom of League One with Burton Albion while Oxford move up to 19th spot.

With John Sheridan’s departure to Swindon Town and Leam Richardson’s absence for family reasons it was Head of Academy Gregor Rioch who was in charge of the team.

Loanees Curtis Tilt and Matty Palmer returned to the starting eleven but Latics were without the injured Will Keane, Lee Evans, Kal Naismith, Darnell Johnson and Viv Solomon-Otabor as well as the suspended Adam Long.

Oxford posed a threat in the first minute when Tom James had to concede a corner following a deep cross to the back post.

The visitors were pushing plenty of players into forward positions as the hosts struggled to get out from the back.

Keeper Jamie Jones tried to clear a cross with his feet on 12 minutes and the ball looped over the crossbar.

Tom Pearce produced a great block to deny Taylor when he looked likely to score from 12-yards out on 15 minutes as the visitors enjoyed plenty of possession.

A minute later Jordan Obita cut inside the box and Jones made a very good save low down to his left.

Latics tactic of knocking long balls up to Joe Garner was proving ineffective against Oxford’s bigger centre backs as they rarely threatened.

Oxford were creating plenty of chances however as Obita forced another good save from Jones on 45 minutes before Henry blazed over the angle of post and crossbar soon afterwards.

Right on the stroke of half time Tom Pearce cleared Robert Atkinson’s header off the goal line to keep the scores level at the interval.

Latics had been second best in the first half and it would require a major improvement in the second half if they were to get anything from the game.

Early in the half they were given the opportunity of a lifeline when Simon Eastwood dropped the ball at Kyle Joseph’s feet but the young striker poked the ball wide of the target.

The miss proved hugely significant as Oxford took the lead soon afterwards when Marcus McGuane’s cross was well-finished by Taylor from the edge of the six-yard box.

Taylor then forced another good save from Jones on 64 minutes before Elliott Moore headed against the crossbar and Taylor’s diving header produced another acrobatic save from the Latics keeper.

Alex Perry and Olly Crankshaw replaced Palmer and Gardner as Latics looked for fresh legs on 72 minutes.

Gavin Massey tried his luck from 25-yards out and found the side-netting but this was a rare attempt on the visitors goal.

Latics were lacking cohesion and creativity and set-pieces were invariably wasted with one Tom James free kick from the edge of the box going out for a throw in.

Aasgaard replaced Massey on 83 minutes but a mistake by Perry in midfield allowed Oxford to counter-attack quickly with Clare’s cross converted by Henry.

It appeared to be all over for the hosts but three minutes later Pearce’s cross from the left hand side was superbly glanced home by the young Norwegian midfielder.

Latics rallied and with seven minutes of added time the possibility of an equaliser gave the hosts some urgency.

Oxford held out but in truth Latics had been second best for most of the 97 minutes and the visitors deservedly took home the three points.

It’s a desperately difficult time for Latics and they will continue to struggle until they can get their senior players back fit and the problems off the pitch resolved. Hopefully the Spanish takeover can be completed very soon and the club can then move forward with some stability.

Player ratings

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Alex Henry, Gregor Rioch, League One, Matty Taylor, Oxford United, Thelo Aasgaard, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics’ fragile confidence easily shattered – Wigan Athletic 2 Chorley 3

John Sheridan

Big problems for John Sheridan

National League North Chorley pulled off an FA Cup first round shock when they defeated League One Wigan Athletic 3-2 after extra time at the DW Stadium.

Latics had dominated the first half and led 2-0 with goals from Joe Garner and Tom James but when defender Adam Long was given a straight red card the game turned completely on its head.

The Magpies reduced the deficit just after half time when Elliott Newby rifled home after Latics’ defence failed to clear and the hosts fragile confidence was further exposed on 60 minutes when a mistake by Tom Pearce allowed Harry Cardwell to race clear before executing a neat finish.

2-2 at the end of normal time but the excellent part-timers deservedly grabbed the winner in extra time when Latics’ defence once again failed to deal with the Magpies attacking threat and Connor Hall was on hand to send Chorley through to the second round. 

John Sheridan made two changes from the team that narrowly lost at Blackpool with Owen Evans replacing Jamie Jones in goal and Gavin Massey coming into midfield for the ineligible Matty Palmer.

Sixth tier Chorley are currently bottom of the National League North and Latics dominated the early stages with Dan Gardner heading into the side-netting on eight minutes before Joe Garner put the hosts ahead on 19 minutes.

Gardner’s shot was deflected into the path of the Latics captain who finished well from close range.  

Garner might have added to the hosts lead on 29 minutes when Pearce’s excellent cross found him unmarked inside the box but his header just cleared the crossbar.

Latics doubled their lead on 34 minutes when James produced a top quality finish from the corner of the penalty box.

The Hibernian loanee looked to be about to cross with his right foot but instead turned inside onto his left foot and curled the ball into the top left corner of the net.

Latics appeared to be in control, dominating possession and creating chances but the Magpies allows looked dangerous on the break and Hall forced a good save from Evans on 38 minutes.

The match turned in Chorley’s favour on 40 minutes when Long was given a straight red card after he brought down Cardwell after Latics’ nervy defence had hesitated.  

2-0 at half time and Sheridan will have instructed his players not to give the visitors an early lifeline in the second half but that’s just what they did.

Latics defence failed to clear a high ball into the box and when the ball fell to Newby he made no mistake from close range.

The hosts fragile confidence was visibly shattered and the Magpies now realised they could go on to win the game.

The visitors were being given far too much space in midfield and forced a succession of corners as Latics retreated into defence.

Birch produced an excellent long range effort which Evans did well to tip over the crossbar.

The visitors then had an effort cleared off the line as they pressed for the equaliser but it came soon when Pearce’s misplaced pass set up Cardwell who raced clear before slotting the ball past Evans.

Latics looked in complete disarray and the visitors were in the ascendancy. The part-timers looked more determined and were winning many of the 50/50 challenges.

Hall missed a great chance for the visitors on 72 minutes and at the other end Garner had a strike headed off the line for the hosts.

As the game ticked towards the end of normal time substitute Crankshaw got to the byeline and crossed for Garner but the striker couldn’t get his shot on target and match moved into extra time.

Extra time started disastrously for Latics as Emeka Obi failed to clear and Hall was on hand to finish from a tight angle.

Latics best chance in extra time fell to Garner when he chested down James’ excellent cross before firing just wide of the target but in truth ten-man Latics had been second best since Long’s dismissal.

Sheridan’s team has been stretched to the limits due to administration and injuries, but it looked as though they had the tie under control until the sending off.

It is a hard learning curve for Latics’ young players but they must learn quickly and stop shooting themselves in the foot with silly mistakes.

Congratulations to Chorley who deservedly progressed to the second round but Latics’ miserable year just goes from bad to worse.

Posted in Chorley, Connor Hall, Elliott Newby, FA Cup, Harry Cardwell, Joe Garner, Tom James, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics edged out by the Seasiders – Blackpool 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Kyle Joseph went close for Latics

Wigan Athletic’s makeshift team suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. 

Latics who are still missing seven first-teamers acquitted themselves well against the more experienced hosts and were unlucky not to come away with at least a draw.

In an even first half both sides had chances but the best opportunity fell to C.J. Hamilton who blazed over from inside the box.

The Seasiders went ahead just after half-time when Sullay Kaikai converted Jerry Yates clever cut back.

Kyle Joseph making his debut forced an excellent save from Chris Maxwell to deny the visitors an equaliser but Gary Madine wasted a great chance for the hosts when he was far too casual with his shot and Jones saved easily.

The result drops Latics to the bottom of the League One table on goal difference while Blackpool move up to 12th spot. 

Injury-hit Latics were still without Lee Evans, Gavin Massey, Kal Naismith, Curtis Tilt, Darnell Johnson, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Will Keane for the trip to Bloomfield Road.

Five of the starting eleven were from Gregor Rioch’s Academy with Joseph making his full debut upfront and Emeka Obi starting in the centre of defence alongside Adam Long.

The experienced hosts started brightly and Madine forced a good save from Jones and Hamilton fired across goal from a good position soon afterwards.

But Latics gradually grew into the game and Dan Gardner’s goal bound effort was deflected for a corner on 20 minutes. Gardner then turned provider crossing for Joe Garner’s header which was saved by Maxwell.

Garner then tried his luck from 40 yards when seeing Maxwell off his line but the striker’s effort was wide of the target.

Hamilton then had a glorious opportunity for the hosts but he blazed over from inside the box.

At the other end Latics nearly gained the advantage when Garner’s clever dummy provided space for Joseph and the Scotland Youth international turned one way and then the other before firing narrowly wide.  

0-0 at the interval with Latics showing plenty of endeavour and matching the hosts for possession.

But early in the second half the Seasiders were in front. Yates broke forward down the right and cut the ball back to Kaikai who made no mistake from 12-yards out.

Despite the setback Latics youthful line-up continued to be competitive and Joseph forced an excellent save from Maxwell with his left-footed strike.

The hosts should have added to their lead on 65 minutes when Madine looked odds on to score from six-yards out but his tame effort was easily saved by Jones.

Tom James had a shot deflected over the crossbar and Chris Merrie should have done better with his shot after good set up play by Gardner and Garner but Latics just couldn’t find their way through the Seasiders defence.

Latics couldn’t be faulted for their effort and the young players can be proud of their performances but the current injury-crisis is killing the club and the manager will be desperately hoping that they can get the injured players back fit very soon.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Injury crisis pushes Latics into trouble – Wigan Athletic 2 Northampton Town 3

Tom James reduced the deficit with a header

Wigan Athletic’s makeshift line-up narrowly lost 3-2 to Northampton Town at the  DW Stadium.

The hosts were without seven first team players due to injury and they struggled to compete in the first half against the physically stronger visitors.

Former Wigan youth player Ryan Watson put Northampton ahead from close range on 13 minutes after Latics’ defence had failed to clear their lines.

The visitors increased their lead on 21 minutes when Sam Hoskins finished confidently from 12-yards.

It looked as though Latics inexperienced line-up might be in for a hiding but they rallied in the second half and pulled a goal back from Joe Garner’s penalty kick.

The visitors soon responded though and substitute Caleb Chukwuemeka restored their two goal advantage on 66 minutes.

Latics kept persevering and Tom James reduced the deficit on 75 minutes with a fine header from Tom Pearce’s cross.

The hosts might have drawn level when substitute Kyle Joseph turned superbly in the six-yard box before firing against the post but it was just not to be.

Latics drop to 21st place in the League One table while Northampton move up to 18th spot.

Injury-hit Latics were without Lee Evans, Gavin Massey, Kal Naismith, Curtis Tilt, Darnell Johnson, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Will Keane for the visit of Northampton.

Thelo Aasgaard and Olly Crankshaw made their first league starts for the club.

Manager John Sheridan adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation in windy conditions.

The visitors started strongly and the big Northampton striker Harry Smith headed over before Jones denied Watson with a good save low down.

Watson then headed over following a free-kick on nine minutes and the visitors were ahead on 12 minutes when the midfielder Watson poked the ball home after Latics’ defenders failed to clear.

Latics’ makeshift defence was struggling to come to terms with Smith’s aerial presence and Crankshaw was immediately withdrawn and replaced by Emeka Obi in central defence.

The visitors increased their lead on 22 minutes as Hoskins latched onto a header from Michael Harriman and raced through the centre of Latics’ defence before slotting the ball past Jamie Jones.

The signs looked ominous for the inexperienced hosts as Watson was given far too much space in the box but he fired straight at Jones.

Matty Palmer headed over from Pearce’s cross on the stroke of half time but Latics had rarely threatened in a poor first half display.

Latics noticeably improved after the half time break with Garner heading over and James curling a shot narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar.

Palmer was moving the ball well in midfield as Latics started to create some momentum.

Pearce was tripped in the box on 62 minutes and Garner converted the penalty for his sixth goal of the season.

But the visitors almost immediately restored their two-goal lead as Latics gave the ball away in midfield and substitute Chukwuemeka made it 3-1.

Joseph replaced Aasgaard on 72 minutes and James made it 3-2 on 74 minutes with a fine header from Pearce’s cross.

Latics were now passing the ball to good effect and looked the most likely to score.

Substitute Joseph turned superbly in the box on 84 minutes before crashing his shot against the post.

Latics continued to press for the equaliser but they just couldn’t capitalise on their dominance and Northampton held out for the three points.

Despite the injury-crisis Latics youthful line-up had pushed the visitors in the second half and they might have secured a draw if it hadn’t been for such a poor first half display.

It is fair to say that any team would struggle without seven first teamers, and it must be frustrating for the manager to see players making mistakes, but the majority of the team are inexperienced and the fans shouldn’t be too critical in the circumstances.

If they can get the injured players back fit there is no reason why they can’t start to climb away from the bottom of the table.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Caleb Chukwuemeka, Joe Garner, League One, Northampton Town, Ryan Watson, Sam Hoskins, Tom James, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Luka Modric My Autobiography

Luka Modric My Autobiography cover

From humble beginnings Luka Modric has achieved incredible things during his football career winning more than 15 trophies with Real Madrid, a FIFA World Cup finalist, Golden Ball winner, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, FIFA Best Men’s Player and Ballon d’Or Winner.

His autobiography written in conjunction with journalist Robert Matteoni and translated from Croatian recounts his remarkable story from his early life in war-torn Yugoslavia and through his many football achievements to his appearance in the 2018 World Cup Final.

Modric is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders of the last 20 years, alongside such stars as Xavi, Iniesta and Scholes, and was voted the best player of the 2018 World Cup.

The diminutive Modric, (he is only 5ft 7in) had to fight to be accepted as a professional footballer during his youth. His genuine love for the game and perseverance and dedication to succeed enabled him to reach the highest level of the game.

It is a phenomenal career and Modric’s story is an engrossing one. Although sometimes the story can lack real verve, this may be because the story is being retold via Robert Matteoni and also translated from Croatian. The retelling can also be a little mechanical at times with the prose efficient rather than exciting.

Modric has to contend with major setbacks such as the murder of his Grandfather during the Croatian War of Independence, the health issues of his wife Vanja and the court case after his transfer from Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham. Modric was charged with perjury after his testimony in executive director Zdravko Mamic’s corruption trial. The charge was ultimately rejected, but during the trial Modric received death threats and was the most hated person in Croatia.

Despite these major setbacks Modric’s personal grit and determination to succeed shines throughout the book. Prior to the World Cup Final Modric believed his career had reached a peak.

“This is where my career and my story as a footballer reaches its conclusion. I’ve won everything with Real. I’m playing with Croatia in the FIFA World Cup Final. No matter how it ends, I feel I have accomplished what I hoped for.”

However, although Croatia lose the final against France, Modric’s career reaches new heights when he wins the player of the tournament and goes on to win that year’s Ballon D’Or.

Modric’s autobiography provides an illuminating insight into the career of one of the greatest players in the modern game. A player who dreamt of becoming a professional footballer but reached incredible heights way beyond his wildest imagination.

Luka Modric My Autobiography. Published by Bloomsbury. Price £18.99.

This review first appeared in the October/November 2020 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, Late Tackle magazine, Wigan Athletic, World Cup | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Tough times for Latics – MK Dons 2 Wigan Athletic 0

Jamie Jones kept Latics in the game in the first half

Injury-hit Wigan Athletic suffered a dispiriting 2-0 defeat at Milton Keynes Dons tonight.

Latics who are still in administration and awaiting a takeover by a Spanish consortium were without four key players and lost striker Will Keane to injury after only eight minutes.

The hosts had a relatively easy victory against the disjointed visitors and should have been ahead before half time but Scott Fraser wasted a couple of great chances.

Early in the second half MK Dons were awarded a penalty when Tom James made a rash challenge in the box and Fraser stepped up to convert the spot kick.

It was not long before the hosts added a second on 52 minutes when Stephen Walker fired home as the visitors defence failed to clear their lines on several occasions.

Latics makeshift team produced some promising moves in the latter stages but they were unable to reduce the deficit and MK Dons ran out comfortable winners.

Latics drop down to 19th in the League One table while MK Dons climb to 17th spot.

John Sheridan faced severe selection problems as the already depleted squad lost Kal Naismith, Lee Evans, Darnell Johnson and Viv Solomon-Otabor from the team which had drawn with Plymouth.

Dan Gardner, Chris Merrie, Adam Long and Will Keane came into a 3-5-2 formation.

The hosts posed the first threat when experienced striker Cameron Jerome headed wide of the target from Dean Lewington’s cross.

Latics then suffered another injury when Keane pulled up with a groin problem and was replaced by Olly Crankshaw.

It was a poor opening as neither team came into the game with much confidence following recent poor results.

But gradually the hosts appeared to realise that they were up against a weakened team who were struggling for any cohesion.

MK Dons enjoyed plenty of possession and should’ve been in front on 22 minutes when the Latics defence was sliced wide open but Fraser’s shot was well saved at the near post by Jamie Jones.

Six minutes later Fraser had another great chance and once again Jones came to the rescue turning the ball around the post when the striker looked odds on to score.

Walker then fired over the crossbar from the edge of the box as the visitors retreated further into their defence. Wing-backs Gavin Massey and Tom Pearce just couldn’t get forward as the pressure mounted.

Latics were lucky to be level at half time but catastrophe struck on 47 minutes when James rashly challenged Matthew Sorinola in the box and referee Charles Breakspear awarded a penalty which Fraser converted.

It was not long before the hosts doubled their lead as Latics’ defenders failed to clear their lines on several occasions and when the ball came to Walker in the area he made no mistake with a low drive.

It now appeared to be a case of damage limitation for Latics but Curtis Tilt went close with a header from Matty Palmer’s corner on 55 minutes as the visitors rallied a little.

Massey and Tilt appeared to be withdrawn due to injuries as Latics problems worsened and were replaced by Thelo Aasgaard and Alex Perry.

Substitute Joe Mason curled a shot narrowly wide on 69 minutes as the hosts nearly added to their lead.

Latics youthful substitutes started to pass the ball better as the hosts sat on their lead and they created a couple of chances themselves.

Crankshaw’s cross from the right was spilled by keeper Andrew Fisher but Joe Garner couldn’t quite capitalise on the mistake.

Latics had a good opportunity to test the MK Dons keeper on 89 minutes from a free kick on the edge of the box, but James blazed his shot so wide it went for a throw-in, which just about summed up Latics’ dreadful evening.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com
Posted in League One, MK Dons, Scott Fraser, Stephen Walker, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stalemate after a game of two halves – Wigan Athletic 1 Plymouth Argyle 1

Will Keane Will Keane scored his first goal for Latics

It was a game of two halves as Wigan Athletic ground out a first league point in four games against Plymouth Argyle at the DW Stadium.

Latics produced a dreadful first half display as Argyle looked to have taken control. The visitors went ahead after 34 minutes when some shambolic defending allowed Ryan Hardie to chip the ball over Jamie Jones.

Latics were all at sea in the opening 45 minutes and could have been further behind if it wasn’t for some poor finishing by the visitors.

But Latics were a transformed team after the half time break and deservedly drew level when Kal Naismith’s chipped cross was headed home at the near post by substitute Will Keane on 69 minutes.

Both teams had chances to secure all three points in normal time and eight minutes of added time but a draw was probably a fair result in the end.

Latics move out of the bottom four and up to 18th in the League One table while Plymouth are in ninth place.

John Sheridan shuffled his pack after recent poor performances with Tom Pearce returning at left-back and Tom James moving across to right back. Will Keane dropped to the bench and Kal Naismith and Gavin Massey moved into more forward positions.

In very wet and windy conditions Latics lost winger Viv Solomon-Otabor to injury in the first minute and immediately had to reshuffle their formation with Keane coming on to replace him.

The hosts never settled in the opening half and looked disjointed and unable to get a foothold in the game. They moved the ball far too slowly and the visitors were easily able to break up any attacks.

Curtis Tilt blocked a goal bound shot on 25 minutes and Jones saved a 25-yard srike by Nottingham Forest loanee Tyrese Fornah soon afterwards as the visitors threatened to go ahead.

Jephcott then had a glorious chance to put Argyle in front but he headed wide of the target from a great position.

The visitors were ahead on 34 minutes when some shambolic Latics defending presented Argyle with the lead. Jones pass out to Pearce was too hard and in an attempt to control the ball he knocked into the path of Hardie who calmly chipped the ball over Jones and into the net.

Garner briefly threatened at the end of the half with an overhead kick which went narrowly wide, but Latics had produced a desperate first half display which was full of mistakes and lacking in any cohesion.

The hosts were lucky to go into the break only 1-0 down and Sheridan will have had some harsh words for the players during the interval.

Substitute Adam Long replaced the injured Darnell Johnson in Latics’ defence for the second half.

Latics seemed a transformed team for the second half and they started to move the ball much quicker and press higher up the pitch.

Soon after the restart they controversially had a goal disallowed. Naismith’s cross was headed back into the box by Garner for Lee Evans to finish but the linesman flagged and after a long consultation between the officials the goal was chalked off.

But Latics were not to be undone and they continued to press forward. James fired over the crossbar after Garner had set him up on 61 minutes and an excellent cross by Massey just evaded Garner on the edge of the six-yard box a minute later.

Latics were level on 69 minutes after a flowing move. Naismith produced a delicate chipped cross to the near post and Keane made no mistake heading his first goal for the club.

The hosts now looked the better team and most likely to get the winner as they pressed high and created chances.

But as the half wore on the game opened up with both sides creating more opportunities. Substitute Frank Nouble had a shot well blocked on 74 minutes and Long made an excellent defensive block to deny Danny Mayor on 77 minutes.

Naismith’s free-kick nearly fell into the path of Garner on 87 minutes and soon afterwards the Latics captain miscued his shot after good work by Keane had set him up.

Eight minutes of added time following the disallowed goal consultation and an injury to Curtis Tilt.

Long came to the rescue again on 93 minutes when he blocked another shot from Nouble who was through on goal.

The hosts were living dangerously as the visitors forced a succession of corners, but they might have won it in the 88th minute when on the break Garner played the ball to Evans in the box and he couldn’t quite get his shot away and the game ended in a draw.

A real game of two halves with Argyle dominant in the first half and Latics the better team in the second. Latics’ first half performance just wasn’t acceptable and they were lucky the game wasn’t out of sight by then.

Sheridan will be pleased with the players reaction in the second half.  When Latics move the ball quicker and press high they look capable of matching any team in the division. The players must now ensure that they now maintain that high standard and if they can, they are capable of moving up the table.

Player ratings Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com
Posted in League One, Plymouth Argyle, Ryan Hardie, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics slip into relegation zone after another narrow defeat – Wigan Athletic 0 Peterborough United 1

Kal Naismith Wigan Athletic Kal Naismith went closest for Latics

Wigan Athletic slipped into the League One relegation zone after a narrow 1-0 defeat against promotion chasing Peterborough United.

Tricky winger Siriki Dembele was a constant threat for the visitors who should have been ahead on 13 minutes when Dembele pulled the ball back for Joe Ward but the midfielder fired narrowly wide from a good position.

Posh went in front on 27 minutes when Dan Butler’s deep cross found the unmarked Jonson Clarke-Harris who had time to chest the ball down before volleying past Jamie Jones.

Latics had the better of the second half but despite enjoying more possession they lacked a cutting edge. Kal Naismith going closest for the hosts in the 91st minute when his cross shot hit the outside of the post.

Latics drop down to 21st place in the League One table while Peterborough maintain fourth place.

John Sheridan made one change to the team defeated at Charlton on Saturday with Matty Palmer making his debut in place of the injured Dan Gardner. Tom Pearce was still unavailable due to injury.

Peterborough made a confident start but it was Latics who threatened first when Naismith had his shot well saved by Christy Pym after three minutes.

Posh should have been ahead after 13 minutes when Dembele cleverly evaded Gavin Massey before setting up Ward but the midfielder fired narrowly wide when he looked odds on to score.

But the visitors were ahead on 27 minutes when Clarke-Harris was allowed far too much room in the box and the striker chested the ball down before confidently volleying home.

Latics forced a succession of corners as the half wore on but the delivery was invariably poor and failed to cause the visitors many problems.

Winger Viv Solomon-Otabor was well marked out of the game by Nathan Thompson as the hosts struggled to create meaningful chances.

Reece Brown fired wide from the edge of the box on the stroke of half time as Posh ended the first half on top.

Latics improved a little in the second half enjoying more possession and occasionally threatening but the visitors always looked dangerous on the break and at set pieces.

Lee Evans went close for Latics when his snapshot forced an excellent save from Pym low down to his left on 67 minutes.

Latics strikers were generally relying on scraps rather than creating clear goalscoring opportunities. Will Keane was replaced by Chris Merrie on 59 minutes and Joe Garner was replaced by Ollie Crankshaw on 80 minutes after both strikers had a thankless night.

Latics did nearly snatch an equaliser in added time when Naismith’s cross shot from the edge of the box hit the outside of the post, but overall they came up short against a good Peterborough team who look like they will be amongst the promotion contenders at the end of the season.

Sheridan’s team are very much a work in progress, having been assembled under difficult circumstances and should be given time to develop.

There are some promising combinations in defence and in midfield with Evans and Naismith but there was a lack of cutting edge in the final third and the manager will be concerned at the lack goals in the last three games.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com
Posted in Kal Naismith, League One, Peterborough United, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Frustrating afternoon at the Valley for Latics – Charlton Athletic 1 Wigan Athletic 0

John Sheridan

John Sheridan had a frustrating afternoon

Referee Ollie Yates was the centre of attention as Latics were narrowly defeated by Charlton Athletic in a hard fought fixture at the Valley.

Yates’s decision-making was erratic throughout, disallowing a Latics goal and twice denying penalty appeals when Will Keane and later Lee Evans appeared to be fouled in the box. 

Despite the visitors best efforts the hosts secured the three points on 65 minutes when Jake Forster-Caskey’s expertly executed free-kick went in off the inside of the post. 

Latics slip down to 18th in the League One table while the Addicks move above them to 15th spot.

Manager John Sheridan made several changes to the team which had been so convincingly defeated at Crewe with captain Joe Garner returning from injury. Dan Garner came into midfield and new signing Curtis Tilt made his debut in defence.

Tom Pearce was unavailable due to injury and Tom James moved over to left back and Gavin Massey moving to right full back, with Kal Naismith moving into the right midfield slot in a 4-4-2 formation. 

Charlton had Latics FA Cup winning hero Ben Watson in the starting line-up and former striker Omar Bogle on the bench.

After an even opening period Charlton had the first chance on ten minutes when Jamie Jones made an excellent reaction save at his near post to deny Forster-Caskey.

Forster-Caskey went close again on 18 minutes when his free-kick from 25-yards out clipped the top of Jones’ crossbar. 

Latics first real chance came on 22 minutes when Evans’ corner found Darnell Johnson on the edge of the six-yard box and the Leicester City loanee headed powerfully towards goal only for Ben-Amos to make an excellent save.

Almost immediately afterwards Garner had a great opportunity to give Latics the lead but he volleyed wide from eight yards out after good work by Viv Solomon-Otabor on the left. 

At the other end Chuks Aneke forced an important save from Jones after he turned quickly past Johnson and looked odds on to score until the Latics keeper intervened turning the ball around the post for a corner.

As the match moved towards half time Latics were struggling to clear their lines as Charlton upped the pressure.  The visitors were also giving away far too many free-kicks and corners. Forster-Caskey wasting an opportunity when his free-kick from 25 -yards sailed high over the crossbar. 

0-0 at half time but some ominous signs for Latics as the hosts sought to take control.

Early in the second half Latics had a strong appeal for a penalty when Ryan Inniss looked to have fouled Keane in the area but referee Yates dismissed Latics’ appeals.

Seconds later Keane was involved in a disallowed goal for Latics as he challenged Akin Famewo and pulled the ball back for Garner to fire home but referee Yates once again ruled against the visitors.

On 65 minutes Latics conceded yet another free-kick around the penalty area and this time Forster-Caskey executed his free-kick perfectly as the ball went in via inside of Jones left-hand post.  

Latics were feeling that the decisions were going against them and Massey was booked for dissent after he was penalised for a foul and yet another decision had gone in the the hosts favour.

The visitors were feeling aggrieved but they were building some momentum on the pitch and Solomon-Otabor’s low drive was spilled by Amos but Naismith couldn’t quite capitalise as the keeper recovered at his near post.

Latics looked like they had drawn level on 83 minutes when Garner’s cross wasn’t dealt with by Amos, Naismith teed Evans up to shoot and the Welshman’s shot crashed against the woodwork, but Latics players were furious that a penalty was not given as Evans was fouled as he went to shoot.

Despite the plethora of decisions going against them Latics continued to press for the equaliser right up until the 97th minute when Solomon-Otabor had his shot well saved by Amos.

It was a difficult afternoon for Latics as all the big decisions went against them. On another day they would have got at least a point from what was a very even game.

It was a much improved performance after the disappointing display against Crewe with debututant Curtis Tilt having a solid game in defence and Will Keane looking more comfortable upfront.

Tactically Sheridan’s decision to play Massey at right full back and Naismith wide on the right of midfield didn’t quite work out. I would personally prefer the left footed Naismith to play on the left hand side where he looks more comfortable and will pose more of an attacking threat.

It’s something for Sheridan to ponder and may depend on whether left full back Tom Pearce is available for selection on Tuesday night against Peterborough United.

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Latics suffer reality check – Crewe Alexandra 3 Wigan Athletic 0

Jamie Jones was one of the few players to emerge with credit

After two very good performances against Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers Wigan Athletic were brought back down to earth with a 3-0 defeat at Crewe Alexandra.

The hosts produced an excellent display of passing football and thoroughly deserved to secure the three points against the lacklustre visitors.

Despite wasting several early chances Crewe were ahead on 27 minutes when Luke Offord got between Latics’ central defenders Darnell Johnson and Kal Naismith and headed home from close range. Harry Pickering added a well-worked second on 40 minutes as the hosts took full control.

The three points were effectively sealed on 59 minutes when Michael Mandron tapped home after Jamie Jones had twice saved shots from Crewe players before being beaten.

Latics drop down to 16th in the League One table and the Railwaymen rise above them to 13th place.

New signing Will Keane came into starting 11 to replace captain and leading scorer Joe Garner who suffered a head injury against Doncaster. In his absence Lee Evans captained the team. Crewe had two former Latics players Donervon Daniels and Mandron in their starting line-up.

In windy conditions Latics might  have gone ahead early on when Gavin Massey’s blocked tackle flew towards goal but keeper Dave Richards managed to stay alert and tip over the crossbar.

Naismith then had a great chance when the ball fell to him eight-yards out but he lifted his effort high over the crossbar.

Jones then came to Latics’ rescue as he made a fine double save from Perry Ng and Daniels. The former Latic Daniels was injured in the attack and had to be replaced by Omar Beccles.

Mandron then had a chance on 21 minutes when he was free on the edge of the six- yard box but he got his feet in a tangle and Jones was able to smother the ball.

Soon afterwards the hosts were ahead as they were allowed plenty of time to cross into the box and Offord got between Johnson and Naismith to head past Jones.

Crewe were in the ascendancy now as Latics struggled to re-create their recent good form and it was clear they were missing the presence of their captain and leading goalscorer Garner.

Mandron could have added to the hosts lead on 34 minutes when he headed straight at Jones from a good position.

But Crewe increased their advantage just before half time when Pickering drove forward into the box before smashing his shot past Jones.

Latics had been outplayed in the first half and it would require a radical improvement if they were to get anything from the game.

They started the second half more brightly but couldn’t capitalise when keeper Richards failed to punch clear inside his own six-yard box.

But soon the hosts increased their lead despite the best efforts of Jones, who twice saved shots, before Mandron tapped the ball home.

Massey fired wide for Latics on 64 minutes and substitute Olly Crankshaw had a goal disallowed for offside on 70 minutes, but the truth was that Latics rarely posed a goal threat and Crewe ran out very comfortable winners.

It had been an excellent performance by David Artell’s team but John Sheridan’s men were well off the pace. Latics young players looked tired after a hectic early season and several of the senior players, in particular Lee Evans and Gavin Massey, produced disappointing displays.

Latics have gone through so much change in the last few months and it is perhaps not surprising that all the changes have now caught up with the squad.

It has been a difficult transitional period. The squad is still very thin and too reliant on young players from the Academy. It is important that when the new owners do take over that they recruit players with sufficient quality and experience to move the club forward.

Sheridan must now try to regroup and prepare his players for a tough away fixture at Charlton Athletic next week. It is to be hoped that captain Garner will be available for selection and that some of the other senior players show improved commitment in the coming weeks.

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Posted in Crewe Alexandra, Harry Pickering, Jamie Jones, Luke Offord, Michael Mandron, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment