Even Christ can’t save Latics as they slump to another defeat – Wigan Athletic 0 Luton Town 2

January signing Christ Tiehi

  • Wigan Athletic remain rooted to the bottom of the Championship after another toothless display against Luton Town.
  • Latics gave home debuts to January signings Christ Tiehi, Steven Caulker and Miguel Azeez but they couldn’t stop the downward spiral continuing.
  • The visitors went ahead after only 11 minutes when Caulker dallied and Harry Cornick stole the ball to fire past Ben Amos.
  • The hosts tried to respond and they thought they’d equalised when Ashley Fletcher headed into the top corner on 25 minutes but the goal was ruled out for offside.
  • The Hatters added a second goal from a counter attack early in the second half through Elijah Adebayo.
  • Latics huffed and puffed but rarely threatened to breakthrough and Kolo Toure’s charges are now winless in nine games.
  • Latics are rock bottom of the Championship table and effectively five points from safety while the Hatters move up to seventh place.

Toure made six changes from the FA cup defeat to Luton in midweek, with Tiehi, Caulker, Azeez, Ryan Nyambe, James McClean, and Will Keane coming into the starting line-up.

The visitors started the game strongly and adopted a high press.

Latics struggled to get out of their own half and when Azeez played the ball backwards to Caulker the former England international dallied and was robbed by Cornick whose strike was deflected past Amos.

The visitors continued to look lively and they had another opportunity in the 20th minute. Adebayo burst into the box from the left before firing across goal and narrowly wide of the far post.

Latics thought they had drawn level five minutes later when Charlie Hughes’ excellent cross from the right was met by Fletcher’s perfect header into the top corner, but the Watford loanee’s header was ruled out for offside.

The hosts had a half chance just before half time when Power and Caulker combined to find Fletcher inside the penalty area, but the striker blazed his effort over the crossbar.

Latics started the second half strongly and went in search of an equaliser.

Hughes created an opportunity when his incisive pass released Fletcher, but the striker’s low strike was easily saved at the near post by Ethan Horvath.

Just when it looked like Latics were gaining the ascendancy, the visitors broke quickly and doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Adebayo produced an excellent finish into the bottom corner.

Latics huffed and puffed but couldn’t create any clear cut chances and it was the visitors who nearly added a third from substitute Alfie Doughty the 76th minute. The midfielder found space on the edge of the penalty area, but his low effort was dragged wide of the post.

The visitors comfortably held out for the three points in the remaining minutes with keeper Horvath relatively untroubled. 

Overview

This was another poor performance by Toure’s team. Defensive lapses had once again proved costly and they were out of luck when Fletcher’s goal was disallowed for a marginal offside.

The appointment of Toure was always a high risk appointment and Latics’ fortunes have so far only deteriorated under his stewardship.

Latics had started the season positively under Leam Richardson and despite a rocky period it is hard not to believe that they would now be in a stronger position under his leadership.

Richardson’s team had won at Kenilworth Road in September but Toure’s team have been abject in the last two home fixtures against Luton.

If the board had backed Richardson in the transfer market in pre-season the club would probably not be in its current position.

A change in manager and tactics in mid-season has not proved beneficial and the chances of survival now look very slim.

Even the prospect of Joe Gelhardt being Latics’ new saviour is now in the balance with plenty of other clubs interested in taking him on-loan until the end of the season.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Toure expressed the importance of his side working hard in training to improve their own fortunes in both penalty areas.

“It was tough,” he said.

“I thought in the first 20 minutes, they put us under pressure and we couldn’t find our rhythm on the ball. Unfortunately, we gave away another cheap goal, and when you concede so early in a game, it puts you straight on the back foot.

“We reacted well and played better for 25 minutes until the end of the first half. You could see we were putting them under pressure, and we scored a goal which was disallowed.

“We came back again in the second half and put them under pressure, and from nothing again, they scored the second goal.

“In both boxes, we need to make sure we are ruthless, attacking-wise as well as defensively. We need to make sure we don’t give away cheap goals. 

“We need to change and be proactive. We can’t wait to concede until we start playing. We have two weeks to work in training to make sure we create some connections between the players. 

“We just need to put our heads down and keep working hard on those details we need to fix.”

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Posted in Championship, Elijah Adebayo, Harry Cornick, Kolo Toure, Leam Richardson, Luton Town, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Latics late FA Cup heartache – Wigan Athletic 1 Luton Town 2

Thelo Aasgaard

Thelo Aasgaard produced a stunning goal

  • Wigan Athletic suffered FA Cup heartache as Luton Town scored a 97th winner at the DW Stadium.
  • Latics had taken the lead early in the second half through Thelo Aasgaard’s stunning volley but the Hatters equalised just three minutes later through Cauley Woodrow.
  • Just when it looked like the game was heading for extra-time Elijah Adebayo dramatically fired Luton into the fourth round.
  • After eight games in charge Kolo Toure is still without a victory and face Luton again on Saturday at the DW Stadium in the Championship.

Toure made five changes from Saturday’s draw at Cardiff City, with Jack Whatmough, Tendayi Darikwa, Joe Bennett, Aasgaard and Ashley Fletcher all returning to the starting line-up.

The visitors started brightly and in the first minute Woodrow broke into the penalty area and his shot was blocked by Charlie Hughes who diverted the ball for a corner.

They went close again soon afterwards when Woodrow’s left-sided cross was met by Adebayo, but the forward’s header was easily saved by Ben Amos.

Latics were struggling for cohesion and it was Luton who continued to threaten and in the 18th minute Reece Burke’s cross found Woodrow but the striker’s header cleared the crossbar.

Latics had their first attempt towards goal in the 25th minute when a Max Power throw-in was set back to Hughes who found Thelo Aasgaard on the edge of the area, but the Norwegian Under 20 international was unable to hit the target with his strike.

Latics had another half chance just before the half time break when Bennett’s corner fell to Whatmough who saw his goal-bound effort blocked and then cleared away.

Toure’s Tics had a great start to the second half when Aasgaard produced a stunning goal in the 47th minute.

Power’s long throw was headed out to the edge of the penalty area, and Aasgaard executed a superb volley into the top right corner of the Luton net.

The lead was short lived however and Luton equalised just three minutes later through Woodrow. After seeing his initial effort superbly saved by Amos, Woodrow was able to convert the rebound.

Latics might’ve been given a penalty in the 70th minute when Tom Naylor went down under a challenge inside the six-yard box, but referee Matt Donahue wasn’t doing Latics any favours and waved away the appeals.

The Hatters then enjoyed a period of sustained pressure. Substitute Harry Cornick looked to have given Luton the lead when he beat the offside trap and finished past Amos, but substitute McClean got back to make an excellent goal line clearance.

Adebayo created space inside the area, but his strike was claimed at the second attempt by Latics’ keeper Amos. Next Woodrow had a shot well blocked by Tom Naylor and then Whatmough headed away a curling effort from Alfie Doherty.

At the other end Aasgaard volleyed straight at Horvath from just outside the box in the 89th minute.

Just when it looked like the match was heading for extra-time Luton snatched the victory in 97th minute. Naylor seemed to stumble when going for a header in the box and Adebayo was on hand to send the Hatter’s into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Overview

Latics will be devastated to have conceded so late in the game but on the night Luton had been the better team and deserved to go through to the next round.

The hosts had lacked the quality and creativity to put Luton under any sustained pressure. They only had three shots in comparison to Luton’s 13 and enjoyed less possession than the visitors.

Luton are a good Championship side and are currently ninth in the table and only two points off a play-off spot. The disappointing thing from a Latics perspective was the lack of any real attacking threat and some poor defending once again.

They conceded so quickly after going ahead and lacked any creativity going forward. The build up play is too slow and the wing backs are not getting forward often enough. Admittedly there were five changes to the starting line-up with Keane and McClean on the bench and Caulker, Azeez and Tiehi ineligible but overall Latics were very poor.

Toure will make changes for Saturday and the new signings should be available to play but Latics desperately need a victory and it must come soon if there is to be a revival.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Toure expressed that while the defeat is naturally a tough pill to swallow, it’s important that his side regroup and immediately look to respond in the right way when Luton return to the DW Stadium for Saturday’s league meeting.

“I feel gutted for the boys,” he said.

“They gave everything, and they’ve been working really hard for this game. Thelo (Aasgaard) scored a great goal, but we conceded a cheap goal a couple of minutes later. When you score, you have to defend for your life, but we conceded straight away. We have to defend better.

“We were fighting and competing for every single ball in the second half, and conceding a goal in the last minute (was tough). I feel frustrated for the boys for what they’ve been giving.

“We have to keep helping the players to perform and give them solutions on the pitch. I feel like this can be a great learning curve tonight, and we have another game against Luton on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to it.

“We have to stick together, keep working hard, and make sure we don’t give cheap goals away.”

Posted in Cauley Woodrow, Elijah Adebayo, FA Cup, Kolo Toure, Luton Town, Thelo Aasgaard, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Latics’ late show rescues a point – Cardiff City 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Will Keane grabbed a late equaliser

  • Wigan Athletic rescued a point at Cardiff City when Will Keane equalised from close range in the sixth minute of added time.
  • In a scrappy game the Bluebirds had taken the lead in the 81st minute when Callum O’Dowda’s strike was unluckily deflected into the net by Latics defender Charlie Hughes.
  • Just when it looked like Latics luck had run out in South Wales, Keane got on the end of Ashley Fletcher’s knock-down to finish from close range.
  • Latics remain bottom of the Championship table and are effectively five points from safety due to their inferior goal difference and Cardiff are in 21st place just above the relegation zone.

Kolo Toure made three changes to the team which started against Luton in the FA Cup with Steven Caulker making his Latics debut along with Charlie Hughes and Keane who also returned to the starting XI.

The visitors created the first opportunity of when James McClean gained possession and fed Lang who drove forward and shot from 25 yards out, but his effort cleared the crossbar. 

Neither side was able to gain the upper hand with passes going astray in the early stages. Gradually the home side started to enjoy greater possession and Jaden Philogene tried his luck from distance.

Soon afterwards former Latics loanee Sheyi Ojo’s cross from the left was met by Isaac Davies, but the striker couldn’t hit the target with his header.

Davies threatened again in the 36th minute when he raced onto a ball down the right and tried to chip Amos from distance, but the Latics keeper managed to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Just before half-time Latics created three opportunities to break the deadlock.

First, Caulker played the ball into the path of Lang who just couldn’t direct his header goalwards, before Jordan Cousins fired an effort wide from the edge of the area. Then, deep in added time Max Power found Lang with a lofted pass, but the striker couldn’t hit the target with his volley from a tight angle.

Arsenal loanee Miguel Azeez made his debut and replaced the injured Cousins late in the first half.

The visitors continued their good work and started the second half strongly. Power’s strike from 20 yards out, was spilled by Allsop but the keeper saved at the second attempt.

Azeez, came close to giving Toure’s Tics the lead in the 55th minute. The midfielder made a run into the box, and was picked out by Naylor, but he just couldn’t keep his volley down and make it count.

Cardiff continued to enjoy the greater possession but Latics created another chance through some more good play from the Arsenal loanee.

Azeez ran at the Bluebirds’ defence and set up Keane whose low effort was spilled by Allsop, but the keeper recovered to push the ball away, before Lang could capitalise.

There were chances at both ends now as both teams tried to break the deadlock and former Latics defender Cedric Kipre headed wide from Wintle’s free-kick, before Keane was again denied by Allsop with a close range effort.

The hosts finally broke the deadlock in the 81st minute. O’Dowda’s strike from the centre of the box was unluckily deflected by Hughes into the bottom corner of the Latics net.

It looked as though Latics would leave South Wales without a point but they continued to push forward in added time and they were rewarded in the 96th minute when Keane scored his 10th goal of the season from close-range after a knock-down from substitute Ashley Fletcher.

The result didn’t suit the home fans with loud booing at the end and after the game the Cardiff manager Mark Hudson was sacked.

The 600 or so travelling Latics fans were however in jubilant mood after the very late equaliser.

Overview

It wasn’t a pretty game against Cardiff but the Tics showed great character and battled to the end and gained an important point.

Overall they were defensively solid and although they lacked creativity going forward they still had several good chances to score.

Miguel Azeez had some promising touches when he came on and might have got on the scoresheet when he broke through into the box.

Latics have been hampered by injuries recently and they were once again without Jack Whatmough. But the experienced Steven Caulker had an impressive debut and Hughes and Tilt performed admirably.

The importance of striker Will Keane and his 10 goals this season cannot be overstated – without him Latics would be in terrible trouble.

There are rumours that Sheffield United are interested in signing Keane but the owners cannot allow him to leave in the transfer window.

Toure’s team is in a transitional period with new players coming in and others leaving the club, but they will need to get wins soon if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Toure said he was delighted with the spirit that was on show from his side at Cardiff.

“I have to praise the players because they worked hard, and gave everything in the game,” he said.

“We started the game well, and I believe we were the better team in the first half. We created so many chances (throughout), but we have to be more clinical.

“In the second half, it was more balanced, but they started to dominate and scored.

“This afternoon, you could see the players were together and wanted to come back. It shows the team spirit that we are trying to create here, and we want our players to hate losing games.

“I have to praise them (the players) for their fighting spirit, and their mentality in refusing to lose. We want to make sure we give everything in every single game, so we can have no regrets.”

New January signing Steven Caulker made his debut and Toure was full of praise for the 31-year-old as he brought his outstanding leadership qualities to the Latics defence.

“Steven (Caulker) was unbelievable. You could see his leadership qualities at the back, with Tilty (Curtis Tilt) and young Charlie Hughes, and the back three was amazing today.”

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Posted in Callum O'Dowda, Cardiff City, Championship, Kolo Toure, Mark Hudson, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Latics show signs of improvement – Luton Town 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Tom Naylor

  • Wigan Athletic go into the FA Cup fourth round draw after a hard fought 1-1 draw at Luton Town.
  • Latics went in front on 17 minutes when Tom Naylor finished from close range from Curtis Tilt’s pass.
  • In added time in the first half the Hatters equalised when Harry Connick headed home from a Carlton Morris cross.
  • The hosts dominated possession in the second half but the visitors went closest to breaking the deadlock when Naylor’s header was well saved by Ethan Horvath and in added time Naylor had a header controversially disallowed.
  • The draw for the fourth round will take place on Sunday at 4.05pm and the replay will take place on Tuesday 17th January.

Kolo Toure made three changes to the team which was defeated by Hull City with Ben Amos, Rarmani Edmonds-Green and Tom Naylor coming into the starting line up.

It was a cagey opening to the game, James McClean was first to try his luck from distance but his strike flew wide of the target.

Cauley Woodrow then had an opportunity for the hosts when he got on the end of a cross from the right hand side, but the effort was comfortably saved by Ben Amos.

Latics went ahead in the 17th minute after some good pressure.  Callum Lang’s header was denied by Horvath before the ball came out to Tilt who found Naylor and the midfielder turned the ball home from close range.

Latics were now on top and causing plenty of problems for the hosts. But Luton began to respond towards the end of the half and Cornick curled an effort narrowly wide of Amos’ left-hand post.

The visitors then almost doubled their lead as Ashley Fletcher drilled an effort towards goal, but the USA international Horvath got down well to his left to push the ball away.

Just when it looked like Latics would go into the break ahead, Luton equalised when Morris dinked the ball across to Cornick who rose highest to head past Amos and into the far corner.

Latics had an early chance at the start of the second half when Fletcher drilled a ball across to Lang to strike on the volley but he couldn’t connect properly as the ball flew wide of the target.

The hosts then enjoyed a sustained period of possession and forced a series of corners but Latics held firm. Whatmough was much improved after an off-day against Hull and made numerous vital defensive blocks and clearances. 

Both sides then made numerous substitutions in an attempt to gain control but these only managed to disrupt the flow of the game.

Gradually substitutes Will Keane and Thelo Aasgaard started to make an impact and Lang was a little unlucky when he had a goal disallowed for a challenge on Horvath.

Aasgaard nearly repeated his match winner from the league fixture at Luton earlier in the season, when cutting inside, this time his strike was more central and Horvath saved well low down.

In added time Latics had two huge opportunities to seal the tie.

Naylor first went close to putting Latics ahead when his looping header from a Power free-kick nearly found the top corner but his effort was superbly saved by Luton keeper.

From the resulting corner, Latics thought they had their winner. McClean’s in-swinging corner was met by Naylor’s header which hit the back of the net but play was controversially pulled back either for a foul on the goalkeeper or an offside decision.

It was a frustrating ending for Latics who had performed so much better than in recent weeks.

Overview

Latics enjoyed an FA Cup respite from their Championship troubles. They showed good character and determination to get a result at Luton who are seventh in the Championship table. In fact they might won the tie after a late attacking flurry and a marginal offside/foul call.

They had defended well throughout with a back three of Whatmough, Tilt and Edmonds-Green and generally they looked more solid than in previous weeks.

Tom Naylor had one of his best games in a Latics shirt and could easily have scored a hat-trick of headers with better luck.

These are still tentative steps for new manager Toure, but the players had showed a positive response to the recent dreadful results.

They will need to continue that improvement if they’re to get a good result in a crucial relegation clash at Cardiff City next Saturday.

Squad strengthening

Despite the improved display at Luton, Latics will need to bring in new players to strengthen the squad after the departures of Nathan Broadhead and Graeme Shinnie. Both players were well regarded by the Latics fans and it is essential that they are replaced with players of similar, if not better quality.

It is clear the club urgently need reinforcements in most areas and most recently they have been linked with former England defender Steven Caulker who is currently playing in Turkey and Nottingham Forest duo Harry Toffolo and Jack Colback.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Toure said: “It was a positive performance.

“The boys played really well and in the first half, I thought we controlled the game and were the better team, but gave away a cheap goal.

“In the second half, Luton played well but we responded well and had to change our shape to stop them and put fresh legs into the game.

“The boys defended for their lives and everyone worked as a team. The mentality was unbelievable, and in the last 15 minutes we were on top, and thought we had won it in the last minute, but sadly it was disallowed.

“We want to fight in every game, and we want to make sure that if any team wants to beat us, they have to work really hard.”

The Latics manager is now looking forward to work on the training field. 

“We now have time to work on the training field (with the week break between games) and do some specific work,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to that with focus on Cardiff.”

Posted in FA Cup, Harry Cornick, Kolo Toure, Luton Town, Tom Naylor, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: How To Watch Football – 52 Rules for Understanding the Beautiful Game, On and Off the Pitch by Tifo

This handy football primer, produced by Tifo the YouTube channel, is designed to help everyone understand what is happening both on and off the pitch.

From ‘don’t watch the ball’ and ‘why corners are less effective than you think’, to ‘how transfer fees can be misleading’ and ‘how to spot sportswashing’, these are Tifo’s fifty-two rules.

Football is about so many things. It’s about stars, goals, and glory but also about intense calculations and movements. It’s about the fans and player psychology. It’s about the coach, the club owner, the director of football. It’s about money and data, about geopolitics and architecture, and even about climate change.

Whatever your knowledge or experience of football you will learn something new from the book. The primer debunks many accepted beliefs and myths and provides plenty of new thinking.

You will learn about different styles of play, about Catenaccio, Tiki-Taka, and Total Football. You will learn about some of the greatest players and coaches, some well-known such as Herbert Chapman, Johan Cruyff and George Weah and some less so, such as Jimmy Hogan, Valeriy Lobanovskyi and Amr Fahmy.

You will discover the half-space, that pass completion doesn’t matter and that more defenders don’t necessarily mean more defensive. You will learn about XG – football’s expected goals metric. You will learn about Fan Ownership and the 50+1 rule and of the devastating impact of the climate crisis.

It’s an extremely compelling climate message in a football context. “There are currently ninety-two league teams in England. By 2050, twenty-three of them expect partial or total annual flooding of their stadiums.”

“Of those twenty-three British stadiums exposed to flooding by 2050, the Cardiff City and KCOM Stadiums will be both entirely underwater, Grimsby’s Blundell Park will be in the North Sea, while the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough will only be accessible by boat. In the Premier League, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and West Ham’s London Stadium will experience flooding on an annual basis, as will Southampton’s St Mary’s.”

There’s some great statistics for football fanatics to impress their friends, such as “Since 2010, only 3% of the corners taken in Europe’s top five leagues have resulted in a goal.”

And “In an average football game, an average football player will get 4.6% of the total touches on the ball. That equates to about sixty touches per game in a recent Premier League season. It follows that, for close to 86 minutes of the game, most players are without the ball.”

There are excellent illustrations which enhance the text and encourage further reading or further viewing in the case of the Tifo YouTube channel. This easy-to-read primer is thoroughly recommended for existing football fans and for those wanting an introduction to the game.

How To Watch Football – 52 Rules for Understanding the Beautiful Game, On and Off the Pitch by Tifo. Published by Particular Books. Price £ 10.99.

This review first appeared in the January 2023 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, Football Book Reviews, Late Tackle magazine, Tifo, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Toure’s Tics in freefall – Wigan Athletic 1 Hull City 4

Kolo Toure

  • Wigan Athletic suffered a fourth consecutive defeat as Hull City hit four and moved away from the drop zone. 
  • The Tigers went ahead after 15 minutes after Jacob Greaves produced an excellent finish from a corner but Latics drew level on 63 minutes with a headed own goal from James McClean’s corner.
  • The visitors restored their advantage on 78 minutes when Oscar Estupinan’s scuffed effort trickled over the line before Tyler Smith completed the rout with two late finishes.
  • Kolo Toure’s team remain bottom of the Championship table and three points from safety and the Tigers move up to 16th place.

Toure made four changes from Thursday’s defeat against Sunderland, with Jack Whatmough, Ryan Nyambe, Joe Bennett and Jordan Cousins coming into the starting XI.

The visitors started in confident mode and pressed high from the kick off.

They went close to scoring when Regan Slater worked the ball to Alfie Jones in the area but Whatmough did well to block his effort.

The pressure continued and Jean Micheal Seri’s delivery went just past the near post following a clever effort from Estupinan.

The Tigers got the breakthrough in the 15th minute when a corner by Seri found Greaves who produced an emphatic finish into the far corner.

Latics tried to respond and Max Power curled a long range free-kick onto the roof of the net.

Power was involved again soon afterwards after a good attacking move but his final low cross was easily claimed by keeper Matt Ingram.

The visitors then threatened again when Ryan Longman found Estupinan with a low cross from the right, but Curtis Tilt pressurised the Columbia international into hitting his effort wide of the target.

Longman curled an effort over the crossbar before the interval as the visitors went into half-time 1-0 ahead.

Toure needed to make changes at the break as his team had been outplayed in the first half.

The manager switched formation at half-time with Keane pushed forward alongside substitute Nathan Broadhead who replaced Callum Lang.

Ten minutes later Thelo Aasgaard replaced Ashley Fletcher and Tom Naylor replaced Jordan Cousins as Latics began to assert themselves and push forward.

They equalised on 63 minutes when from a McLean corner a Hull defender headed past his own keeper under pressure from Broadhead.

The momentum seemed to be turning in Latics’ favour but the visitors always looked dangerous on the break.

Keeper Jamie Jones kept Latics level when he did well to save Cyrus Christie’s low cross, with Estupinan poised to pounce.

But in the 78th minute some sloppy Latics defending allowed the Tigers to regain the lead through Estupinan. Tilt’s desperate challenge for the ball only diverted it into the forward’s path, and his low effort wrong-footed Jones after a deflection off Whatmough.

With Latics in disarray the Tigers rubbed salt in the wound by adding two further goals in the 85th and 91st minutes from substitute Smith.

The 4-1 score line was perhaps a little harsh on Latics but Toure’s team have now lost the last four games and conceded 14 goals. The omens are not good.

Overview

Latics’ freefall under new manager Kolo Toure has put them in a very precarious position at the bottom of the Championship table.

Chairman Talal Al Hammad issued a statement after the game apologising for the form and has promised to take action in the transfer window.

It is to be hoped that the Chairman backs up his words on Twitter with real investment.

Latics situation since the sacking of Leam Richardson has deteriorated and the club will require significant funds in the transfer window if they are to avoid relegation.

The January transfer window is always a difficult market and Latics position at the bottom of the table does not make the club an attractive proposition for many players.

Injuries have not helped Latics’ cause and recent recruitment has not been good enough with Anthony Scully rarely seen on the pitch and Ashley Fletcher proving ineffective.

It is imperative that Latics bring in Championship quality players who will make a positive impact in the second half of the season. There is no point in bringing in makeweights, the players recruited must be capable of going straight into the team and making an impact.

Looking positively, the club did get good results in early season and despite the current poor form they are not cut adrift from the other teams and are only three points from safety.

The next few weeks transfer activity will be critical to Latics’ chances of survival in the Championship.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards to the media, Toure emphasised that his side will need to be better in those key moments after they were punished by three late goals.

“It was a very tough result,” he said.

“The 4-1 scoreline doesn’t reflect the game, in my opinion. I felt for 75 minutes, we were battling, and we were on top in the second half.

“I thought we would have gone on to score the second goal and put the game to bed, but we conceded three goals in the last 15 minutes again.

“It is very tough (to take) but we will be working hard to correct those errors, and be more focused at the end of the game. We need to communicate better, so we can avoid those goals.

“We are giving easy goals away at the moment, (which means) we then need to chase the game which opens the team up.

“There are things we can improve, and we just need to be positive and keep fighting.”

Toure spoke about the importance of sticking together collectively to come through this difficult patch.

“It is very frustrating. This result puts us in a tough place but we have got to keep going,” He explained.

“We just have to stick together and keep believing in ourselves. We need to keep working hard in training, and we will do everything we can to make things better.”

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Posted in Championship, Hull City, Jacob Greaves, Kolo Toure, Oscar Estupinan, Talal Al Hammad, Tyler Smith, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tough times for the Tics – Wigan Athletic 1 Sunderland 4

Will Keane

Will Keane scored his ninth goal of the season

  • Wigan Athletic slipped to the bottom of the Championship after an emphatic 4-1 home defeat to Sunderland.
  • Injury-hit Latics struggled to contain the in-form Mackems and went behind on 19 minutes when Ellis Simms headed in from close range. 
  • The visitors had several good chances to increase their lead in the first half but it was the hosts who drew level on 42 minutes when Will Keane followed up Thelo Aasgaard’s strike after it was spilled by Anthony Patterson.
  • Substitute Ross Stewart restored the visitors lead from the penalty spot on 66 minutes and substitute Patrick Roberts added a third with a deflected effort on 85 minutes.
  • Amad Diallo’s superb strike from 25-yards made if four on 89 minutes to round off a splendid night for the Black Cats.
  • Latics drop to the bottom of the Championship table and are three points from safety while Sunderland move into the play-off places in fourth spot.

Kolo Toure made three changes from their Boxing Day defeat at Middlesbrough, with captain Tendayi Darikwa and Tom Naylor returning to the starting line-up, along with Ashley Fletcher who was given his first Latics league start.

The visitors started the game confidently and pressed high from the kick off.

Latics lost another centre back, this time Charlie Hughes, to injury after a very clumsy challenge by a Sunderland forward on 17 minutes. Substitute full back Ryan Nyambe had to replace him at centre back.

Referee Michael Salisbury was doing Latics no favours and booked McClean for an innocuous foul while the dangerous foul on Hughes had gone unpunished.

Latics were thankful to keeper Jamie Jones who made a superb double save in the 19th minute. Jones did brilliantly to save Diallo’s low effort with his leg, and he recovered quickly to slide across his goal-line and parry Abdoullah Ba’s follow-up effort for a corner.

Unfortunately for Jones and Latics the visitors were ahead just a minute later through Simms after he headed Hume’s cross in at the far post.

The visitors nearly added a second when Diallo was through on goal but James McClean produced a crucial last-ditch tackle to stop the strike.

Latics showed good spirit and nearly drew level when McClean’s powerful volley from the edge of the area struck the crossbar in the 40th minute.

Almost immediately at the other end Diallo saw his his effort crash against the woodwork.

But Latics got back on level terms three minutes before the interval through the predatory striker Keane.

Aasgaard’s powerful strike from 20 yards out was spilled by keeper Patterson and Keane grabbed his ninth goal of the season firing home from close range.

Latics were somewhat lucky to go into half-time level but they started the second half strongly.

They had a good opportunity when Lang was sent in the clear down the right hand side, but he was denied by a vital last-ditch tackle by Luke O’Nien.

But despite Latics looking the better side Sunderland regained the lead in the 66th minute when substitute Stewart converted from the penalty spot, after Naylor was harshly penalised for a foul on Roberts.

The game then slipped out Latics’ reach with two late goals from Roberts and Diallo.

Substitute Roberts adding the third with a deflected effort on 85 minutes and Diallo’s superb strike from 25-yards made if four on 89 minutes.

Overview

Toure has made some positive changes to the style of play since taking over as manager but injuries to key players and defensive mistakes have put the club in a precarious position.

Few teams would manage to get results when they are missing nearly all their central defenders. Charlie Hughes injury against Sunderland was yet another damaging blow.

Unless we can get cover in very soon there is a danger that Latics could become detached at the bottom of the table.

The optimism of Latics’ early season form under Leam Richardson has now dissolved into a desperate relegation struggle.

Owners Phoenix 2021 decisions in the January transfer window are now crucial to Latics’ survival in the Championship.

It is clear from recent performances that the club needs defensive reinforcements immediately and some more quality in attacking positions if they are to avoid relegation.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Toure felt the scoreline wasn’t a fair reflection of the game, and he couldn’t fault the players’ effort levels despite the end result.

“It was a tough result to take,” he said.

“I felt like it wasn’t a 4-1 game. The players gave everything, worked really hard and tried to put them under pressure, but Sunderland brought on quality from the bench which made the difference. 

“The response (after the Sunderland) goal was great. They kept fighting, believing in the way we want to play and were brave on the ball.

“After Sunderland scored (the second), we chased the game and looked to score. When you push forward against a team like Sunderland, you open the doors at the back, and that’s what happened at the end.

“They (the players) gave everything tonight, and I was disappointed for them that they didn’t get something from the game.”

Latics have to recover quickly as they have an important bottom of the table clash with Hull City on Monday afternoon.

Toure expressed the importance that his side swiftly changes their focus, with another huge game awaiting them in the Championship.

“We have to now think about the next game, which is very important for us. We have to give everything we’ve got, and try and win that game.”

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Posted in Amad Diallo, Championship, Ellis Simms, Kolo Toure, Patrick Roberts, Ross Stewart, Sunderland, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Injury-hit Latics thumped by Boro – Middlesbrough 4 Wigan Athletic 1

Thelo Aasgaard

Thelo Aasgaard pulled a goal back for Latics

  • Wigan Athletic suffered a heavy Boxing Day defeat at in-form Middlesbrough.
  • Boro striker Chuba Akpom grabbed a hat-trick as Michael Carrick’s team continued their rise towards the top six.
  • Marcus Forss opened the scoring on 26 minutes and the hosts took complete control in the second half with Latics makeshift defence exposed by Akpom’s finishing in the 49th and 59th minute.
  • Thelo Aasgaard pulled a goal back for Latics on 61 minutes but Akpom completed his hat-trick in added time.
  • Latics remain in 23rd place and three points from safety while Middlesbrough move up to 10th in the Championship table.

Latics were without three centre-halves, Jason Kerr, Jack Whatmough and Rarmani Edwards-Green. Kolo Toure made four changes from the team which had narrowly lost to Sheffield United with Ryan Nyambe, Jordan Cousins, Thelo Aasgaard and debutant Charlie Hughes starting.

The first opportunity of the first half fell to Latics striker Nathan Broadhead. The Everton loanee found space and hit a powerful strike towards goal, but keeper Zack Steffen was able to push the ball away.

The hosts responded and Duncan Watmore’s strike from the edge of the area was well pushed over the bar by Jamie Jones.

After a good initial opening by Latics, on 26 minutes Boro went ahead through Forss. The ball was played in from the right hand side, and the striker found the bottom corner of the net.

Boro nearly extended their lead soon afterwards when a header from a corner looked destined to find the net, but Aasgaard was able to get in the way and head over the bar from a couple of yards out.

Latics then had a couple of chances to restore parity. First, Max Power and Broadhead combined before feeding Callum Lang to strike on the turn, but his effort was blocked by a Boro defender.

From the resulting corner, Hughes met James McClean’s corner at the far post, but could only divert his header over and the hosts went into the interval 1-0 ahead.

The hosts started the second half strongly and they were 2-0 up after only two minutes. Akpom finished powerfully ino the roof of the net after a cross from the left hand side.

Boro’s lead quickly became three when Akpom grabbed his second when finishing with his left foot to find the bottom left-hand corner of Latics’ net.

Latics almost immediately pulled a goal back when Power’s excellent delivery to the back post was superbly finished high into the net by Aasgaard.

The visitors tried to push forward with Lang chasing a ball down over the top. The striker beat Boro keeper, Steffen, to the ball and looped his effort towards goal, but Darragh Lenihan was on hand to clear the danger.

Graeme Shinnie replaced Broadhead on 69 minutes and Anthony Scully and Tendayi Darikwa replaced Aasgaard and Nyambe on 75 minutes. Tom Naylor and Ashley Fletcher replaced Cousins and Lang on 86 minutes.

Latics continued to push to reduce the deficit, and substitute Fletcher had a header from the centre of the goal saved by Steffen, but it was the hosts who added a fourth when Akpom completed his hat-trick in the 93rd minute.

Overview

Latics were without three recognised central defenders yesterday, Kerr, Whatmough and Edwards-Green and although Charlie Hughes is a promising young defender, he is probably not yet ready for the rigours of the Championship. 

Toure is trying to play attractive attacking football but the injuries and lack of squad depth mean they will have to dig deep to get results. The games continue to come thick and fast and Latics need to get some victories quickly. The next two home games will be tough against Sunderland and Hull City but it is important that they do pick up points and do not get detached from the teams above them.

The January transfer window is imminent and it is vital that Phoenix 2021 back Toure and strengthen the squad, bringing in more quality and utilising the loan market. It would be a disaster if Latics were relegated and allowed to slip back into League One due to a lack of investment. 

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Toure was honest with his assessment.

“It was a tough afternoon,” he said.

“I felt like we started the game quite well and put them under pressure, and I think we should have been more aggressive in front of goal.

“But then we gave a goal away on a throw in, where we aren’t organised properly, and that cost us the game as the confidence then goes down.

“Unfortunately at the moment, we only start playing when we concede, and we aren’t aggressive enough, especially defensively. 

“That’s something we need to fix and be more pro-active, like we did against Millwall.”

Latics have two home games to come in the next few days at the DW, and Toure wants his side to use these upcoming games as a way to respond and pick up points. 

“We have to analyse quickly now,” he said.

“There are some things we can take, but also some things to correct, but we have a big opportunity with two home games to make sure we get points.”

“We have to think about the next game moving forward, and we have to give everything.”

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Posted in Championship, Chuba Akpom, Kolo Toure, Marcus Forss, Middlesbrough, Thelo Aasgaard, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Toure’s first home game ends in defeat – Wigan Athletic 1 Sheffield United 2

Nathan Broadhead on target

  • Kolo Toure lost his first home game in charge of Wigan Athletic as they succumbed to promotion chasing Sheffield United.
  • The Blades went ahead after only eight minutes when John Egan powerfully headed home Oliver Norwood’s corner.
  • Latics struggled with the Blades high press and the visitors could have added further goals in the first half but for some excellent goalkeeping from Jamie Jones and last ditch defending.
  • The visitors doubled their lead in the 56th minute when Tendayi Darikwa played a poor pass into midfield and Iliman Ndiaye supplied Billy Sharp who finished with clinical precision into the bottom corner.
  • Despite the setback Latics rallied and reduced the deficit when Nathan Broadhead tapped home from close range on 65 minutes.
  • There was some late Latics pressure for an equaliser but the Blades held on to strengthen their position for automatic promotion.
  • Latics are now in 23rd place and Sheffield United remain in second place in the Championship table.

Toure named an unchanged starting XI to the side that picked up a draw away to Millwall.

Latics created the first opportunity in just the second minute. Joe Bennett found Will Keane free in the centre and the striker fired over the Blades crossbar.

The hosts continued to push forward, and Tom Naylor saw his volley from the edge of the box well blocked by a Sheffield United defender with appeals for a handball waved away.

But it was the visitors who stunned the home crowd in the eighth minute. Sharp and Ndiaye both forced good saves from Jamie Jones in quick succession, and from Norwood’s corner, John Egan powered his header past Jones to give United the lead.

The Blades continued to press high and nearly added a second when Ndiaye found Enda Stevens, who looked certain to score until Darikwa’s last-ditch block deflected his effort wide.

Jones then had to push away James McAtee’s low drive at his near post.

Jack Whatmough had to be withdrawn due to injury and replaced by Rarmani Edmonds-Green on the half hour mark and Latics could easily have been three or four goals down by then.

But the hosts gradually started to re-assert themselves and in the 36th minute James McClean went close to an equaliser.

Nathan Broadhead found McClean in behind the Blades’ back line. He saw his first cross blocked before his attempted volley on the rebound went narrowly wide of the target.

Latics began the second half strongly but it was the visitors who doubled their lead in the 56th minute following a mistake by the hosts.

Captain Darikwa’s pass into midfield was behind Power and intercepted by Ndiaye who set up Sharp who finished clinically.

Despite the setback Latics’ players heads didn’t go down and they rallied. They were denied a penalty in the 64th minute.

Lang did well down the right and his low shot was only partially palmed away by Wes Foderingham. The ball rebounded to Thelo Aasgaard, who saw his strike hit the hand of a defender but referee Dean Whitestone waved away Latics’ appeals for a penalty.

Latics pulled a goal back a minute later when Aasgaard fed McClean, whose low cross was spilled by Foderingham, and Broadhead was able to tap home from close range.

Latics then pushed for the equaliser, and substitute Ashley Fletcher almost grabbed it in the 85th minute. Power found Fletcher stretching at the near post, but his shot was deflected just wide of the post.

Latics put the Blades under sustained pressure in the closing minutes but they were unable to make the vital breakthrough and Toure’s first home game ended in defeat.

Overview

In the first half Latics had come up against a confident in-form team whose physicality and high press caused all kinds of problems. If it was not for some excellent goalkeeping from Jamie Jones and some last ditch defending the game could’ve been over by half time.

However, Latics once again tried to play through the thirds and created several good opportunities against tough opponents.

It was a much better second half performance and on another day and with a little luck they might have been awarded a penalty and gained a creditable draw.

It’s still very early days for Toure and his coaching team but despite the defeat there was plenty for the manager to build on from the game. The team are playing good football and showing plenty of energy, but they still require some strengthening in key positions.  

It was good to see Ryan Nyambe return to the team but the injury to last season’s player of the year Jack Whatmough is a big worry after already losing Jason Kerr for the season. Substitute Rarmani Edmonds-Green did well against Sheffield United but Latics are now very thin in defensive positions. It is imperative that Latics add reinforcements in the January transfer window.

Next up another tough looking trip to Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Toure believes that his side’s display against the Blades in the second half will provide them with a solid platform to build from in the coming games over Christmas.

“In the first half, I thought we could’ve done better, and been braver on the ball in my opinion,” he said.

“We conceded from a set-piece, and in the second half, we then gave away the second goal. After that, we played a lot better. We were more confident, both attacking and creating chances.

“I’m really pleased with the second half, but I think we need to make sure that we start the game better.

“(We played against) a team that is in second place at the moment, and they showed their quality. I still believe we could’ve come back into the game, and that is the good thing that we can take away from tonight.

“The team pushed to come back, and the fans were fantastic. They kept pushing the team and we are going to build on that second half.” 

The manager was full of praise for how the Latics supporters backed the boys throughout the 95 minutes.

“The fans are really important for us, with how they keep pushing the team. Tonight, they were very good, and hopefully, we can have more nights like tonight (where they back us all the way), and win more games.”

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Posted in Billy Sharp, John Egan, Kolo Toure, Nathan Broadhead, Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Toure’s Tics make a promising start – Millwall 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Kolo Toure

  • Wigan Athletic secured a valuable point at play-off chasing Millwall in Kolo Toure’s first game in charge.
  • Will Keane gave Latics the lead when he slotted home on 33 minutes but the hosts drew level just before half time when Zian Flemming volleyed past Jamie Jones from the edge of the box.
  • Danny McNamara fired just over the crossbar for the hosts and Keane headed over for Latics, but in a closely fought second half neither team could break the deadlock.
  • Latics move out of the relegation zone and are in 21st place and Millwall remain in seventh place.

New manager Kolo Toure made three changes to the team which had defeated Blackpool with Joe Bennett, Will Keane, and Nathan Broadhead replacing Rarmari Edmonds-Green, Graeme Shinnie and Charlie Wyke.

In a lively opening period Latics went close in the first minute when James McClean’s dangerous cross was headed towards goal by Nathan Broadhead, but his effort was parried wide for a corner by George Long. 

The hosts soon responded and Mason Bennett’s strike was comfortably saved by Jones.

Bennett threatened again in the 13th minute, when his low effort had to be well saved by Jones.

It was end to end stuff now and Tom Bradshaw stabbed a low effort towards the bottom corner, but Jones did well to get down low and push it away.

Latics went ahead on 33 minutes through Keane’s eighth goal of the season. Broadhead broke into the area and found Keane, whose initial shot was blocked but from the rebound he calmly slotted the ball into the empty net with Long already committed.

Millwall tried to get back on level terms when Andreas Voglsammer headed his effort over the crossbar from a Bennett cross.

But with just five minutes remaining in the first period, Flemming equalised for the home side with an excellent half-volley from the edge of the box.

The hosts started the second half strongly. Flemming’s powerful free-kick was superbly tipped around the post by Jones.

They went close again soon afterwards, but fortunately for Latics Billy Mitchell’s drive was straight at Jones.

Latics continued to enjoy plenty of possession and were passing the ball to good effect. Gradually they started to take a measure of control and Keane almost put the visitors back into the lead when his header from Bennett’s cross just went over the crossbar.

Soon afterwards Keane turned provider when he set up Tom Naylor on the edge of the area, but the midfielder was denied by an excellent save from Long.

Josh Magennis replaced Broadhead on 74 minutes, and Jordan Cousins and Thelo Aasgaard replaced Naylor and Lang on 80 minutes as Toure tried to re-energise his team.

There were few real openings in the remaining minutes as Latics comfortably held out for a valuable point at the Den.

Overview

This was a pleasing performance in Toure’s first game in charge. The manager has only had a short time to work with the players but Latics had produced some good passing football and had tried to play through the thirds to achieve a good result.

Millwall is a notoriously difficult place to go and get a result but Latics had dominated possession against a team who have a very good home record and are pushing for a play-off spot. 

The team had defended resolutely and Jones had an excellent game between the sticks. They had created several good chances and Keane had got on the scoresheet once again, he is surely one of the most underrated strikers in the Championship.

Toure is the first African international player to become a manager in the Championship and he has made a good start to his career in his first game. The first signs are promising but this division is unrelenting and next up are second place Sheffield United at the DW Stadium.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Toure was pleased with his side’s performance levels throughout at the Den.

“The boys played unbelievably well, and I’m very proud of the team,” he said.

“We’ve only had one week of work with the players, and the boys implemented the game plan really well.

“I’m very proud of all of them – they worked hard defensively and offensively – did everything that we asked for.

“We had a game plan, and it was to make sure we could really stop their strength. The players implemented the plan well, and I’m very proud of the team.“

Latics were backed in numbers for the trip to South London, and Toure was quick to recognise the contribution that the supporters made from the stands. 

“I’d really like to thank the fans for their support. They came here, and really backed us (in a tough place to go.)”

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Posted in Championship, Kolo Toure, Millwall, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane, Zian Flemming | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment