Review: There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross

Theres only one Danny Garvey cover

This fictional account of gritty Scottish working-class life and football in the 1990’s is a deeply immersive experience. Through a stream of consciousness narrative, the obsessions of a young man are played out in an unforgiving environment.

The crazy world of junior football in Ayrshire provides the backdrop but this novel is centred around one man’s struggle for redemption.

The protagonist Danny was a 16-year-old footballing prodigy. Professional clubs wanted to sign him and a glittering future beckoned. But his early promise was to remain unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw Bridge to manage the struggling junior team he once played for.

What’s more he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, thirteen years earlier, that changed the course of several lives.

David F. Ross paints a dark picture of the small-town working-class life with violence, drugs, alcohol abuse and criminal behaviours all around. Danny is traumatised by his childhood experiences and his return to Barshaw is an attempt to rebuild his life. Football provides an escape from his dysfunctional family.

‘Football is a coping mechanism regardless of the domestic carnage that was going on around him. Danny always focused on the pitch. Watching him play, you’d never have known about the problems he had; about the overdoses witnessed, or those endless bouts of screaming at his brother.’

Danny’s role as manager helps the football club to improve and offers hope to the local community but his personal relationships with his dying mother and brother prove deeply problematic.

Danny’s family are well summarised in this passage. ‘A collection of fragile, damaged adults unable to communicate with each other. Repeating the behaviour of their parents.’

Damo, the autistic son of his brother and estranged girlfriend Nancy offers hope of a better future for Danny, but will it come to fruition, or will he be overcome by Barshaw’s demons? 

Even assuming the accuracy of Ross’s research, the violence and extreme behaviours in Scottish junior football in the 90’s is still quite shocking and goes way beyond what many people could imagine.

It is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel and we are absorbed in Danny’s search for redemption. Will Barshaw Bridge FC defy the odds and win the Cup and will Danny start a new life at Ross County in the Highlands of Scotland?

The social realism is hard hitting throughout and may be off-putting to some, but this is one of the best football related novels of recent years. 

There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F.Ross. Published by Orenda Books. Price £8.99.

A version of this review first appeared in the June/July 2021 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, David F. Ross, Late Tackle magazine, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Review: Whose Game Is It Anyway? Football, Life, Love and Loss by Michael Calvin

Whose Game is it anyway cover

Michael Calvin’s latest book is part memoir, part a reconnection with football after falling out of love with the game. Written at a time of Covid-19 and when football has never seemed so distant from the fans he looks to the future and links back to the past to reconnect.

He recounts his experiences from major sporting events and on meeting the big players from around the world to show us how football can be better. 

At the beginning he has fallen out of love with football.

‘Worn down by its negativity, venality and elitism. I reached the point where anger was exhausted and was ready to surrender to apathy. I loathed the institutional bitterness and ignorance of social media, on which everyone has to have an opinion, however bigoted or uninformed. I despaired of football’s hysterical high priests and its bloodless bureaucracy.’

He goes back in time to pre-World Wide Web to world events and football that are intertwined in his memory. John Lennon’s death, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Heysel Disaster demonstrate that football requires context, care and consideration. 

Calvin moves on to other sports like rally driving, boxing, athletics and sailing and the narrative loses a little momentum, but he powerfully returns to football with Bobby Charlton after the Munich Air Disaster. 

There are worrying stories of how some football Academies take young talent and discard it too easily causing mental health problems for young players.

‘…This was the key element in my falling out of love with football, it was too rapacious, too casual in diminishing the damage it created.’

The chapter about the demise of Bury FC and the rebirth of AFC Bury is particularly affecting. Long-time fan James Bentley provides an emotionally charged account of what he has lost.

‘Gigg Lane is like a ghost town. When I go there now, it physically hurts. I could do the walk there with my eyes closed. I know every bump in every paving slab. Until expulsion, it was a part of my life for 31 years, to the day. I know it sounds cliched but you just stand there, go through all the goals, the saves, the great moments you had with your mates when you were a teenager.’

Calvin reconnects with football when he celebrates an Accrington Stanley goal.

‘I realised, then, how much I had missed that release of emotion that accompanies a beautifully struck leather ball, hitting the taught side panel of a net. Club colours didn’t matter; this was an Everyman experience.’

The book is a timely reminder of why football is so much more important than the selfish Super League clubs.

It is an illuminating journey of discovery and we end on a positive note suggesting that there are some Premier League agents-for-change like Marcus Rashford, community-led clubs like Lewes, Accrington and AFC Wimbledon who offer real hope for the future of football.

Whose Game Is It Anyway? Football, Life, Love & Loss by Michael Calvin, published by Pitch Publishing, Price £19.99. 

This review first appeared in the June/July 2021 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, Late Tackle magazine, Michael Calvin, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The big rebuild with Leam Richardson and Phoenix 2021

DW Stadium line

Wigan Athletic survived a traumatic season of administration and a relegation battle but they will go into the close season with renewed optimism. The new Bahraini owners Phoenix 2021 have steadied the ship and have pledged to rebuild the club with the aim of a return to the Championship.

Manager Leam Richardson has the task of rebuilding the club’s squad with only five players – Tom Pearce, Luke Robinson, Adam Long, Callum Lang and Thelo Aasgaard – currently under contract at the DW Stadium. 

Richardson managed to pull together a group of players in the January transfer window to keep the club in League One and his achievement should not be underestimated.

A combination of Academy youngsters, short-term contracts and loanees enabled the club to survive in the most difficult of circumstances.

Many of those players could provide the backbone to a successful new season under the new owners but they will also need to add extra quality if they are to make a promotion push.

Latics have two good goalkeepers in captain Jamie Jones and Wales U21 international Owen Evans but they should recruit another goalkeeper to push for the first-choice spot.

Former Latics loanee Christian Walton has been released by Brighton and would make a great addition, although there will be strong competition for his signature from Championship clubs.

In defence Latics are lucky to have two excellent left-backs in Tom Pearce and Luke Robinson and a young centre-half in Adam Long but they should look to recruit centre-back loanees Curtis Tilt from Rotherham and George Johnston from Feyenoord.

Zimbabwean right-back Tendayi Darikwa did an excellent job on a short-term contract and is another who should be signed on a permanent basis.

In midfield Latics will do well to retain Lee Evans, who is reportedly wanted by Paul Cook at Ipswich. If he leaves, they will need another creative midfielder and a midfield enforcer in the Samy Morsy mould.

They should also sign Funso Ojo from Aberdeen and offer contracts to young midfielders Chris Merrie and Alex Perry who did so well in early season. 

In the forward line, they should recruit this season’s top scorer Will Keane, tricky winger Viv Solomon-Otabor and strikers Kyle Joseph and Joe Dodoo, but they should also try to re-sign Will Grigg from Sunderland.

Despite having a difficult time with the Black Cats, Grigg demonstrated his goalscoring abilities during his loan at MK Dons and would provide a huge boost for the Latics fanbase.

Richardson will also be looking to make good use of the loan market and will be scanning the young prospects at Premier League and Championship clubs for that extra special player.

As far as outgoings are concerned, Corey Whelan, Scott Wootton, Gavin Massey, Dan Gardner, Zach Clough and Jamie Proctor may all be surplus to requirements as Richardson looks to bring in more new players to build a promotion chasing team.

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Latics’ disappointing end to a momentous season – Wigan Athletic 3 Swindon Town 4

Will Keane's header drew Latics level

Latics’ top scorer Will Keane added his eleventh goal

* It was a strange end of the season game as Latics dominated for long periods but were ultimately edged out 4-3 by relegated Swindon Town at the DW Stadium.

* Latics went ahead when Curtis Tilt headed home Dan Gardner’s corner on 17 minutes and they doubled their lead on 56 minutes when Will Keane slotted home after good work by Gardner and Zach Clough.

* Swindon pulled a goal back through Scott Twine’s superbly executed free kick on 59 minutes but Latics almost immediately restored the advantage with Clough flicking Keane’s strike into the visitors net.

* The game turned in the visitors favour on 66 minutes when last man Tilt was adjudged to have fouled Tyler Smith and was red carded.

* The visitors pulled another goal back on 77 minutes when Jonathan Grounds found Hallam Hope in space and the striker finished into the bottom left corner and they were level in the 90th minute when Hope’s cross was headed home by Smith.

* Ten-men Latics had now lost all shape and solidity and the visitors achieved an unlikely victory when Twine found the bottom right corner from 25-yards out.

* Latics finished the season in 20th place one point above the relegation zone and Swindon ended the season in 23rd place.

Leam Richardson made two changes from the team which had been defeated by Hull City with Gardner and Clough coming into the starting eleven. Viv Solomon-Otabor dropped out of the squad and Lee Evans was on the bench.

Already relegated Swindon had former Latics loanee Matty Palmer in the starting eleven.

Latics started strongly and forced six corners in the opening five minutes and Swindon were lucky to survive but the hosts did go in front on 17 minutes.

From Gardner’s seventh corner Tilt rose high at the near post to head powerfully past Lee Camp.

Twine volleyed wide for the visitors on 27 minutes before Latics had a series of great chances. Joe Dodoo blazed over from 12 yards out and then drilled a shot narrowly wide from close range before Callum Lang headed wide at the back post.

Pitman forced the first save from Jamie Jones low down to his right on 40 minutes but Latics should have been more than one goal ahead at half time as Clough curled a free kick just over and Lang’s header clipped the top of the crossbar.

Early in the second half Tendayi Darikwa curled his shot over the angle of post and crossbar before Keane increased Latics’ advantage on 56 minutes when he scored his eleventh goal of the season following Gardner’s through ball and Clough’s assist.

Twine superbly executed free kick from the edge of the box made it 2-1 on 59 minutes but Latics went straight up the other end and restored their lead when Lang cut the ball back to Keane whose strike was flicked home by Clough.

But the game changed in the visitors favour on 66 minutes when last man Tilt was adjudged to have fouled Smith on the edge of the box and was sent off.

Scott Wootton replaced Gardner as Latics reshuffled their line up on 67 minutes.

Swindon could see an opportunity now and Grounds through ball found Hope in space on 77 minutes and the striker finished clinically.

Thelo Aasgaard, Jamie Proctor and Kyle Joseph replaced Clough, Dodoo and Keane on 79 minutes but Latics had now lost their shape and lacked defensive midfield cover.

Jones was quickly off his line to deny Smith and Johnston also had to make a great block on Smith as the visitors pressed.

Latics had lost all momentum and Swindon levelled in the 90th minute when Hope’s cross was headed home by the Sheffield United loanee Smith.

Worse was to come for Latics as two minutes later Twine tried his luck from distance and found the bottom right corner.

Joseph might have restored parity in the 93rd minute but he dragged his shot wide from a good position.

4-3 to Swindon and a disappointing last game of the season for Latics.

Despite the defeat the manager, coaching staff and players can be proud of their efforts this season. This has been one of the most difficult in Latics’ history and retaining their League One status is an incredible achievement in the circumstances.

The club has been saved from oblivion and the supporters can now look forward to next season with renewed optimism under the new owners.

League One Table

League One Table

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Hallam Hope, League One, Scott Twine, Swindon Town, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane, Zach Clough | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics greatest of great escapes as Hull are Champions – Hull City 3 Wigan Athletic 1

Leam Richardson

Leam Richardson has done a magnificent job to keep Latics in League One

* Despite spending most of the season in administration during a pandemic Wigan Athletic retained their League One status after Rochdale and Northampton lost their games.

* Latics matched Hull at the KCOM Stadium for most of the game but the hosts ran out 3-1 winners and were crowned Champions of League One at the final whistle.

* The Tigers went ahead after 17 minutes through Keane Lewis-Potter’s diving header but Latics drew level two minutes later when Joe Dodoo scored from close range from Will Keane’s cross.

* The hosts restored their advantage on 22 minutes when Malik Wilks back heel set up George Honeyman who drove his shot under Jamie Jones.

* The visitors were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty just before half time when Callum Lang was brought down in the box but referee Bobby Madley bizarrely waved away Latics’ players appeals.

* Latics enjoyed plenty of possession in the second half but the hosts consolidated their lead when Josh Magennis headed home from close range following a short corner routine in the 66th minute.

* Latics are in 20th place with one game remaining and have defied the odds to secure their League One status while Hull City are League One Champions and promoted to the Championship.

Leam Richardson named an unchanged starting eleven for the trip to the KCOM Stadium. Latics former loanee Callum Elder was in the Hull starting eleven and former loanee Reece Burke was on the bench.

Latics made a confident start against the League leaders and Dodoo had a goal bound effort blocked after nine minutes.

The hosts then created a great chance when Elder’s cross found Magennis inside the six-yard box a minute later but the striker failed to hit the target from close range.

At the other end Lee Evans drove his side-footed strike narrowly wide on 14 minutes and Callum Lang might’ve had a penalty when he was pushed over in the box on 15 minutes but referee Madley wasn’t interested.

Two minutes later and the hosts went in front when Honeyman’s cross to the back post was headed home by Lewis-Potter.

Latics were level two minutes later as Keane made excellent progress down the left hand side before cutting into the box and crossing for Dodoo to finish from close range.

It was an end-to-end game and the hosts restored their lead on 22 minutes when Wilks back heel set up Honeyman who drove his shot under Jones to make it 2-1.

Evans’ free kick from the edge of the box was well saved by Matt Ingram on the half hour mark as Latics pushed to get level.

Card happy referee Madley wasn’t doing Latics any favours and on 48 minutes Lang went down under a challenge in the box but bizarrely the referee waved away Latics’ players appeals.

2-1 to Hull at half time but Latics were desperately unlucky to be behind after Madley waved away two strong penalty appeals and they’d matched the League One leaders in the first half.

Latics enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages of the second half with the hosts being pegged back into defence.

Viv Solomon-Otabor’s cut back to Evans was deflected wide on 62 minutes and from the resulting corner Curtis Tilt blazed over from twelve-yards out.

But the Tigers extended their lead on 66 minutes following a short corner routine. Wilks headed back across goal and Magennis headed home from close range.

Richardson made five changes changes as the match moved towards its conclusion. Kyle Joseph replaced Solomon-Otabor, Thelo Aasgaard replaced Keane, Dan Gardner replaced  Lang, Jamie Proctor replaced Dodoo and Zach Clough replaced Funso Ojo, but Latics couldn’t reduce the deficit.

However, it didn’t matter as results came in and Rochdale had lost at home to Doncaster and Northampton had lost at home to Blackpool and Latics were safe from relegation.

It was an incredible achievement by Leam Richardson, Gregor Rioch and the rest of the coaching staff to keep Latics in League One in the most difficult of circumstances.

Latics have had some amazing escapes in the Premier League years but this was surely the greatest of great escapes.

The club has been in administration for most of the season and nearly went out of existence during a pandemic.

But in adversity, Leam trusted and believed in the players he recruited and those he selected. He wanted everyone to feel part of the Latics family.

He instilled a responsibility to give 100 per cent through the performances. He showed the players there was an important cause to commit to and they have delivered the results on the pitch.

The prospects for next season now look bright under the new ownership of Phoenix 2021 and with Leam Richardson as our permanent manager in charge.

League One Table

League One Table

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in George Honeyman, Gregor Rioch, Hull City, Joe Dodoo, Josh Magennis, Keane Lewis-Potter, League One, Leam Richardson, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Keane heads Latics closer to survival – Wigan Athletic 1 Burton Albion 1

Will Keane's header drew Latics level

Will Keane’s header drew Latics level

* Wigan Athletic had a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Burton Albion at the DW Stadium to edge closer to League One survival with two games remaining.

* The Brewers went ahead in the 15th minute from a superb curling Joe Powell free kick into the top corner of the net.

* Latics drew level on 37 minutes from Lee Evans’ corner which was powerfully headed home from Will Keane inside the six-yard box. Almost a replica of his goal against Shrewsbury in midweek.

* The hosts struggled with the visitors physicality throughout and they didn’t reach the heights of recent performances.

* Latics best chance of the second-half fell to defender George Johnston following a corner but he fired over the angle of post and crossbar from a good position in the box in the 93rd minute.

* Latics remain in 20th place and four points above the drop zone with two games remaining. Burton are in 17th place and now safe from relegation.

Leam Richardson was confirmed this week as Wigan Athletic’s permanent manager and he named an unchanged team for the visit of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s Burton Albion.

Burton were undefeated away from home in 2021 and would provide a stiff test for Latics at the DW Stadium.

It was a scrappy opening period as both teams struggled for cohesion. Latics had an early scare on 10 minutes when Johnston’s back pass went beyond Jamie Jones but the goalkeeper recovered to concede a corner.

The visitors were ahead five minutes later as Powell curled a superb free kick from 20 yards into the top right corner.

Burton’s physicality was causing Latics problems as the visitors were winning most of the challenges but as the half progressed the hosts gradually got their passing game going.

Evans’ side footed strike from the angle of the box was well saved by Ben Garratt as Latics looked for the equaliser. 

The hosts were level on 37 minutes when Evans’ excellent delivery from a corner was met by Keane who headed powerfully home from inside the six-yard box.

Just before half time Tendayi Darikwa’s strike from just outside the box flashed narrowly wide of the right hand post.

The second half was a tense affair which was lacking in quality and with neither side creating many chances.  

Latics had to defend an aerial bombardment from a succession of long throws and corners as Burton attempted to use their strong physical presence, but the Latics defence held firm with Curtis Tilt impressive in the centre.

Jamie Proctor replaced Viv Solomon-Otabor on 82 minutes but Latics were unable to carve out clear-cut opportunities.

Until in the 93rd minute following a corner the ball fell to Johnston in the box but the Feyenoord loanee fired over the angle of post and crossbar and Latics had to settle for a point.

This was a gritty hard-fought point for Latics in their fight for survival. Burton have been on a tremendous run under Floyd Hasselbaink so it was not surprising that the game was tight.

The other results from the relegation threatened teams were generally favourable although disappointingly Rochdale equalised against Crewe in the 97th minute to keep their survival hopes alive. 

All eyes will now be on AFC Wimbledon versus Rochdale on Tuesday night before Latics travel to promoted Hull City and are at home to relegated Swindon Town in the final game of the season.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Burton Albion, Joe Powell, League One, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: All Crazee Now – English Football and Footballers in the 1970s by David Tossell

David Tossell’s story of English football in the 1970s, ‘All Crazee Now’ is a special treat for nostalgists and football connoisseurs. This tour de force of 512 pages including Index, Endnotes, Acknowledgements and Roll of Honour is an engrossing account of football and footballers set against the backdrop of the political, cultural and economic events of the time.

The big personalities of the decade all feature, including managers such as Brian Clough, Don Revie and Bob Paisley; playing icons Kevin Keegan and George Best and the maverick talents of the likes of Stan Bowles, Alan Hudson and Rodney Marsh.

There are notable comparisons between some of the big characters of the time. In 1975 Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party and Brian Clough became manager of Nottingham Forest.

‘Thatcher would later describe her manner of dealing with cabinet members as “I don’t mind how much my ministers talk, as long as they do what I say.” ‘And Clough, whose method of discussion with players was’, “We talk about it for about 20 minutes and then we decide I was right.” ‘It was the period when The Iron Lady and Old Big ‘Ead were ready to make history.’ 

The book does not shy away from the dark side of the decade and the stain of football hooliganism, racial tension and the power of the unions. There was however a significant breakthrough for black players in the 70s but they had to contend with the overt racism of the time which included having bananas thrown at them, racist chanting and death threats.

Viv Anderson, Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson amongst others were agents of change and helped a new order to assert itself in the British game. 

Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson

There is analysis of the important games of the decade including the special FA Cup ties: Colchester versus Leeds in 1971; Leeds versus Sunderland final in 1973; Leeds versus Wimbledon in 1975 and perhaps most memorably non-league Hereford knocking Newcastle out of the cup in 1972.

The mid-70s FA Cups represented a more equitable football time for many fans. Second division Sunderland triumphed in 1973, West Ham won in 1975 from a position of 13th in the first division, Southampton did so from the second and Ipswich won in 1978 after finishing only three points from relegation in 18th place in the top-flight.

Tossell also delves deep and unearths the delights of the lesser-known competitions such as the Anglo-Italian Cup, the Watney Mann Invitation Cup, the Texaco Cup and the Ford Motor Company Sporting League.

There are plenty of amusing passages and anecdotes such as when he refers to the unpopular Leeds team of the late 1960s; ‘The critics loved it. That Leeds for all their professionalism, could not administer the final blow to their opponents was a sign that their methods were flawed, like the Daleks’ inability to go upstairs. Good would ultimately prevail over evil; the natural order maintained.’

This extensively researched 1970s football epic is highly recommended and deserves your attention. There are references to television programmes, pop music and popular culture which will keep those of a certain age suitably entertained, but it will also attract younger readers who want to learn about a turbulent and transitional period for football and the country in general.

All Crazee Now – English Football and Footballers in the 1970s by David Tossell. Published by Pitch Publishing. Price £19.99.

This review first appeared in the April/May 2021 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in 1970s, Book Reviews, David Tossell, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Latics edging towards League One survival – Shrewsbury Town 1 Wigan Athletic 2

Callum Lang3

Callum Lang scored his ninth goal of the season

* Wigan Athletic produced their fourth consecutive victory with a 2-1 win against Shrewsbury Town at Montgomery Waters Meadow to stay four points above the drop zone with three games remaining.

* Latics went ahead in the 27th minute when Will Keane powerfully headed home from six-yards out from Lee Evans’ corner.

* The visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but Jamie Jones made an important save with his legs to deny Daniel Udoh and Latics defence had to clear off the line following a corner.

* Just before the half time break Latics broke out quickly and Keane’s through ball found Callum Lang for a one-on-one with Harry Burgoyne and the striker calmly slotted the ball in the bottom left corner to make it 2-0.

* The visitors sat back in the second half and the hosts pulled a goal back in the 66th minute with an unstoppable volley from 18-yards by Ollie Norburn. Latics lived dangerously with substitute Curtis Main hitting the outside of the post and Jones making a vital save from Charlie Caton’s header in the 95th minute.

* Latics remain in 20th place and are four points above the relegation zone. Shrewsbury are in 18th place and three points above Latics.

Leam Richardson named an unchanged starting eleven from the victory against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. Shrewsbury were still without manager Steve Cotterill who is still recovering from Covid. Assistant manager Aaron Wilbraham was looking after team affairs in Cotterill’s absence.

Latics started on the front foot and Burgoyne spilled a high ball into the box after only two minutes but Keane’s attempt was cleared off the line.

Nathanael Ogbeta drove his shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box on seven minutes for the hosts. Joe Dodoo then forced a save from Burgoyne from a tight angle and the ball then pinballed around the area but Latics couldn’t make it count.

Curtis Tilt dallied on the edge of his own box and lost possession to Udoh but Jones made an important save with his legs to deny him.

Brad Walker’s free kick from 30-yards out on on 23 minutes flew narrowly wide of Jones’ goal but four minutes later Latics were ahead from a corner.

Evans delivered superbly to the edge of the six-yard box and Keane rose majestically to head powerfully into the net.

Latics were pressing high and forcing a succession of corners and throw-ins but from a rare Shrewsbury corner at the other end Latics had to clear off the line.

On the stroke of half time Latics doubled their lead. Keane played a defence splitting through ball and Lang slotted the ball past Burgoyne in a one-on-one.

The hosts made a triple substitution at half time with Curtis Main replacing Udoh, David Edwards replacing Ro-Shaun Williams and Harry Chapman replacing Brad Walker.

Early in the second half Tendayi Darikwa did well to work his way into the Shrewsbury box but he blazed his shot high over the crossbar from a good position.

As the half progressed Latics sat back and invited pressure. Jones did well to tip Shaun Whalley’s strike from distance around the post on 65 minutes and Norburn reduced the deficit with an unstoppable volley from 18-yards a minute later.

It was going to be a nervous final period for Latics as they tried to hang on to their lead.

Dan Gardner replaced Viv Solomon-Otabor on 83 minutes.

Latics were living dangerously now and a long searching ball from Whalley on 86 minutes found Chapman in space and the midfielder’s cross to the back post was met by Main who hit the outside of the post from a tight angle.

Five minutes of added time and Thelo Aasgaard replaced Keane on 93 minutes as the clock ticked down. There was one final scare however as Caton’s free header in the 95 minute was superbly saved by Jones and the vital three points were secured.

It’s been an incredible achievement to win four consecutive games but with three games remaining it is still incredibly tight at the bottom of the table and Latics will need to maintain their momentum if they are to ensure survival.

League One Table

League One Table

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Callum Lang, League One, Ollie Norburn, Shrewsbury Town, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics find form to ease relegation worries – Wigan Athletic 2 Crewe Alexandra 0

Man of the Match Lee Evans

Man of the Match Lee Evans

* Wigan Athletic produced their third consecutive victory with a comfortable 2-0 win against Crewe Alexandra at the DW Stadium to ease their relegation worries.

* Latics somewhat fortuitously took the lead in the 15th minute when Joe Dodoo blocked Tom Lowery’s clearance and the ball looped over the Crewe keeper Will Jaaskelainen.

* The hosts dominated the first half and might’ve added to their lead when Jaaskelainen spilled Curtis Tilt’s header but Will Keane couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.

* Latics continued to press forward in the second half but the visitors kept them at bay until the 72nd minute when Callum Lang was upended in the box by Omar Beccles who was given a red card by referee Declan Bourne. Jaaskelainen got a hand to Lee Evans’ penalty but it was not enough to deny Latics a vital three points in their quest for League One survival.

* Latics move up to 19th place in the table and are now four points above the drop zone. Crewe are in 15th place in the table.

Leam Richardson named an unchanged starting eleven from the 2-1 victory against Sunderland. Striker Kyle Joseph returned to the bench after a long injury.

Crewe had former Latics forward Mikael Mandron in the starting line-up and former defender Donervon Daniels on the bench.

Latics made a slow start in bright sunshine and the visitors had an early chance when Tendayi Darikwa was slow to react and allowed Antony Evans’ to cross from the right but fortunately for the hosts Mandron’s shot was blocked in the centre of the box.

The hosts gradually eased themselves into the game and were ahead on 15 minutes when Dodoo blocked Lowery’s clearance and the ball looped over the Crewe keeper.

Viv Solomon-Otabor was causing plenty of problems for the Crewe defence down the left but his crosses just couldn’t quite find a Latics player in the box.

On the half hour mark Funso Ojo’s strike from the edge of the box was well blocked when he might’ve have passed to Lang in a more dangerous position to his right. Lee Evans’ strike from distance on 39 minutes was straight at Jaaskelainen.

Just before the half time break Evans’ corner was headed towards goal by Tilt and Jaaskelainen spilled the ball but Keane couldn’t quite capitalise on the chance at close range.

The hosts probably should’ve been further ahead in the first half but it was 1-0 at the break.

Latics continued to look the more likely to score in the second half but the visitors held firm. Some erratic refereeing by Declan Bourne didn’t help Latics’ cause but the official did make the right decision on 72 minutes when Lang was brought down by Beccles, a penalty awarded and the Crewe man was red carded.

Evans converted the spot kick despite Jaaskelainen’s best efforts and Latics were now in full control.

Substitute Chris Porter had a half chance for the visitors when he headed over from close range on 79 minutes, but Jamie Jones had been untroubled throughout.

In the latter stages Thelo Aasgaard replaced Solomon-Otabor, Jamie Proctor replaced Dodoo, Dan Gardner replaced Keane, Zach Clough replaced Ojo and Kyle Joseph replaced Lang as Latics comfortably saw out the seven minutes of added time.

After three wins on the spin Latics are now in a much stronger position to ensure their League One survival. It’s been a traumatic season with everything that has happened to the club but if they can secure their League One status in the remaining four games it will be one of the greatest of great escapes that the club has ever achieved.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Crewe Alexandra, Joe Dodoo, League One, Lee Evans, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics stun Black Cats and move out of the drop zone – Wigan Athletic 2 Sunderland 1

Will Keane

Will Keane drew Latics level

* Wigan Athletic produced a superb performance to stun promotion-chasing Sunderland 2-1 at the DW Stadium and move out of the League One relegation zone.

* The visitors went ahead on 32 minutes when Aidan McGeady’s cross found the unmarked Charlie Wyke who had an easy task to finish from close range.

* The hosts drew level on 42 minutes when Lee Evans’ corner reached Joe Dodoo at the back post and the Ghanaian striker cut the ball back to Will Keane who volleyed into the net from close range.

* From another Evans corner Latics deservedly took the lead in the 58th minute. Curtis Tilt flicked the ball over his head to Dodoo and the striker crossed for Callum Lang to score from close range

* The Black Cats manager Lee Johnson made a quadruple substitution to try to stem the tide on 64 minutes but it was to no avail as Latics had further chances to increase their lead and Jamie Jones had a relatively untroubled time between the sticks.

* Latics move up to 20th place and are one point above the relegation zone. Sunderland remain in third spot and are five points behind second placed Peterborough.

Leam Richardson made one change to the starting eleven from the 4-1 victory at Doncaster with Callum Lang replacing Thelo Aasgaard who dropped to the bench. Sunderland had former Latic Max Power captaining Lee Johnson’s team.

The game started in bright sunshine and Latics had two early chances. First, an Evans corner was headed on by Lang and George Johnston’s header forced a save from Lee Burge on three minutes and then on six minutes Keane had a strike from the centre of the box saved by the Black Cats keeper.

The high-flying visitors gradually started to assert themselves and they forced a succession of corners and free kicks during a 20 minute period.

McGeady’s 25-yard strike was well saved by Jones diving low to his right on 16 minutes and then on 32 minutes the Republic of Ireland international crossed for the unmarked Wyke to give the visitors the advantage.

But Latics were resilient and pressed for the equaliser with Viv Solomon-Otabor creating a chance for Funso Ojo but the Aberdeen loanee headed straight at Burge.

Lang forced a finger tip save from Burge on 42 minutes and from the resulting corner Latics were level. Evans’ delivery found Dodoo at the back post and the striker cut the ball back to Will Keane who showed great composure before volleying into the net from close range.

Just before the interval Solomon-Otabor created another good chance for Keane but the former Manchester United striker miscued his shot and the chance went begging.

A fairly even first half with Sunderland pressing high but Latics looking dangerous on the counter attack.

Latics made a positive opening to the second half and Lang fired wide after being set up by Keane on the edge of the area but Latics were ahead on on 58 minutes from Evans’ corner.

Curtis Tilt flicked the ball over his head to Dodoo and the striker crossed for Callum Lang to score from close range.

The Black Cats manager made a quadruple substitution on 64 minutes with Ross Stewart, Callum McFadzean, Lynden Gooch and Grant Leadbitter replacing Max Power, Jack Diamond, Jordan Jones and Denver Hume.

But Latics were looking the most likely to add to their lead and after some superb work by Lang driving towards the Black Cats goal he played in Keane but the striker disappointingly blazed wide of the target.

At the other end Tilt made an important clearance to deny Stewart who was well positioned inside the six-yard box.

On 79 minutes Keane had another great chance to add to the lead after being set up by Ojo but he once again failed to hit the target.

Corey Whelan replaced Solomon-Otabor on 82 minutes, Aasgaard replaced Keane on 86 minutes and Jamie Proctor replaced Dodoo on 94 minutes as Latics ran down the clock.

Despite five minutes of added time Latics held out comfortably as the visitors failed to create any real goalscoring opportunities.

This had been a superb performance against a team who have been on a tremendous winning run and are challenging for the automatic promotion places.

Latics had created the better chances, they had been resolute in defence, hardworking and creative in midfield and had throughly deserved the three points.

The team are fighting for their lives and this result will have given everyone a fantastic boost going into the remaining five games of the season.

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Posted in Callum Lang, Charlie Wyke, League One, Sunderland, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment