Derby day delight – Bolton Wanderers 0 Wigan Athletic 4

James McClean grabbed a brace

  • Wigan Athletic produced an emphatic display to defeat local rivals Bolton Wanderers 4-0 at the University of Bolton Stadium.
  • The visitors went ahead after only six minutes when Will Keane turned home James McClean’s cross after good work by Charlie Wyke.
  • Early in the second half McClean doubled Latics’ lead with a bullet-like strike from 20-yards which gave Bolton goalkeeper Joel Dixon no chance.
  • Dixon was at fault for Latics’ third goal when Callum Lang’s shot from a tight angle deflected into the net via the keeper’s leg.
  • When Max Power tried to take a corner the home fans rained down bottles and coins and referee Charles Breakspear had to suspend the game for a short time before order was restored.
  • McClean completed the rout with his second goal and Latics’ fourth in the 81st minute.
  • Latics remain in third place in the League One table with two games in hand on leaders Plymouth and Wanderers drop down to 10th place.

Latics have been in great form recently and manager Leam Richardson named an unchanged team for the sixth consecutive league game. 

The visitors started the game brightly and McClean burst forward before firing a shot from distance which was blocked.

Latics were ahead on six minutes when a poor defensive header allowed Wyke to nip in and feed McClean whose cross found the unmarked Keane, who steered the ball into the Wanderers net.

Bolton responded and Dapo Afolayan tried his luck from range but Ben Amos made a comfortable save.

Latics continued to look threatening and McClean fired a deflected shot towards goal which Dixon did well to save.

Lang had a curling his effort just over the crossbar before Wyke saw his deflected effort easily saved by Dixon.

Jordan Cousins drove an effort narrowly wide from 30-yards before McClean blazed over from just inside the area.

The hosts exerted some pressure before half time with Afolayan having an effort well blocked by Jack Whatmough.

But just before the interval the visitors had a glorious chance to increase their lead when Cousins played in Lang but the striker disappointingly dragged his shot wide of the target.

Latics on the attack

Early in the second half the hosts went close when Afolayan cushioned a header to the edge of the area for Antoni Sarcevic but the Wanderers captain’s volley hit the top of the crossbar.

But on 50 minutes Latics consolidated their advantage with a superb strike from McClean. The Republic of Ireland international drove forward before unleashing an unstoppable bullet-like strike from 20-yards which flew into the corner of the net.

Bolton tried to respond but Ben Amos remained relatively untroubled in the Latics goal. The visitors  effectively sealed the three points on 65 minutes when Lang’s shot from a tight angle deflected into the net via the keeper’s leg.

The Wanderers fans’ didn’t take well to the scoreline and when Max Power tried to take a corner a range of missiles rained down on him. Referee Breakspear had to suspend the game and had to talk to the police, stewards and both managers before play was resumed.  

But there was still time for Latics to rub more salt into the wounded Wanderers. On 81 minutes Lang cut the ball back to McClean in the centre of the goal and the winger rounded off a superb afternoon finishing with some aplomb.

Latics might’ve added to their advantage during the remaining minutes but nevertheless it had been an emphatic victory against their local rivals and an especially memorable day for the 4,000 travelling fans.

Prior to the game the Bolton manager Ian Evatt had unwisely proclaimed his team to be the best team in the league and these comments had come back to bite him.

Leam Richardson meanwhile was much more circumspect in his pre-match comments and afterwards showed dignity in victory.

“You have got to respect every team in this league – and we showed them the utmost respect.

“They’ve been going well but I thought we imposed ourselves on the game from the first minute, and with the application and hard work shown by the lads, they deserved that result.”

Almost 4,000 supporters backed Latics on to victory at the University of Bolton Stadium, and Richardson was full of praise for the fans’ magnificent backing.

“I thought the fans were fantastic and full of voice today – which is pleasing,” he smiled.

“The fans have been out of the stadiums for long enough and for days like this, it’s fantastic.

“When they are in full voice, the minimum that the lads can give them for any Football Club and the badge is to work hard – and when you work hard, you normally get that bit of luck. I thought our lads worked ever so hard today.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Bolton Wanderers, Callum Lang, Ian Evatt, James McClean, League One, Leam Richardson, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the top – Gillingham 0 Wigan Athletic 2

Max Power headed Latics in front

  • Wigan Athletic returned to the top of the League One table after a hard fought 2-0 victory against Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium.
  • Latics dominated possession but in difficult conditions they were unable to break the deadlock until Max Power headed home from James McClean’s floated cross in the 63rd minute.
  • The Gills direct style of play always posed a threat but the visitors sealed the three points when Will Keane diverted captain Tendayi Darikwa’s low cross into the net on 82 minutes.
  • Latics move to the top above Sunderland, who lost at Portsmouth, on goal difference. Gillingham are in 18th place.

Leam Richardson named an unchanged team following Tuesday night’s defeat to Sheffield Wednesday for the visit to Kent.

In heavy rain and high winds both teams initially struggled with the conditions. The Gills direct style of play and physical presence was more suited to the conditions but Latics gradually took control and dominated possession.

Callum Lang was brought down on the edge of the box on 18 minutes and his free-kick was well saved by Jamie Cumming.

At the other end a deep cross from a free-kick nearly deceived Ben Amos but the keeper did well to tip over. Striker John Akinde then forced another save from Amos as the hosts threatened.

Latics produced a flowing move just before half time with Power and Keane combining to set up Lang who fired narrowly wide of the post.

A first half of few chances with Latics having the lion’s share of possession but unable to make their dominance count in the final third.

The Gills started strongly in the second half with the wind behind them. The aerial threat was the Gills main weapon and Akinde’s header from David Tutonda’s cross forced a good save from Amos.

But Latics soon started to look more menacing going forward. Lang’s volley from the edge of the box fizzed past the post and from Power’s corner Jack Whatmough’s header was diverted for another corner.

The breakthrough came in the 63rd minute when McClean turned the full back floating a cross to the back post and Power guided his header home from a tight angle.

Keane then went close twice as Latics looked to increase their advantage. First his left footed strike from the edge of the six-yard box was well saved by Chelsea loanee Cumming and then when his header was just over from Tom Naylor’s cross.

Gavin Massey replaced McClean on 77 minutes and the winger was instrumental in creating Latics’ second goal on 82 minutes. Massey held off his marker before threading a pass to Darikwa and the captain’s cross was well finished by Keane from close range.

The visitors saw out the remaining minutes with relative ease, although Gerald Sitole nearly caught out Amos who was off his line, but the keeper recovered to save well at the last moment.

Latics move back to the top of the table and have recovered well after the midweek setback against Sheffield Wednesday. Richardson confidently picked an unchanged team following the defeat and his judgement was proved correct as Latics’ players deservedly took the three points against difficult opposition.

It was the first time that Latics had won at Gillingham since 2004 and the performance and result augur well for the rest of the season.

In his after match interview Richardson said he was delighted for the players and had praise for the fans who travelled.

“I am delighted for the players,” he said.

“I thought they came and gave a good account of themselves. We spoke before the game that against Gillingham, you have to do the finer details really well with their direct style of play.

“Coming here on the back of Tuesday, it was important that we came and gave a good account of ourselves.

“We did the finer details well, and in the final third, we were productive – certainly in the second half.

“To come here is always a tough task. We know how Steve Evans’ teams want to play and represent themselves. It’s important that we stood up to the task, and to a man, I thought we did that.”

Over 400 travelling supporters made the long trip to Gillingham and braved the testing weather conditions to rally Latics to victory. Richardson expressed that he was ‘made up’ that his side were able to give them something to chant about.

“I’m delighted that we have given them something to sing about,” he said.

“I won’t single him out, but one of the lads mentioned it before the game. There are 430 mad Latics fans coming down to support them in the rain. The conditions were tough today – not just for the players, but for the fans supporting the team. 

“It was important that we gave them that emphasis and hard work, and certainly represent them first and foremost, and then get the result so I’m made up today.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Gillingham, League One, Leam Richardson, Max Power, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defensive mistakes prove costly for Latics – Wigan Athletic 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2

 

    Charlie Wyke reduced the deficit from the Penalty spot

* Two defensive mistakes proved costly as Latics slipped to their first home defeat of the season.

* A Max Power own goal and a slip by Jack Whatmough gifted Sheffield Wednesday a two goal advantage.

* Charlie Wyke’s penalty reduced the deficit after Callum Lang was brought down in the area in the 81st minute.

* Latics pushed for a late equaliser but Wednesday held on for an important away win.

* Latics drop to second place in the League One table and Wednesday move up to ninth spot.

Leam Richardson named an unchanged side from Saturday’s victory against Cheltenham Town. The Owls had former Latic Chey Dunkley in their starting line up.

The visitors started strongly and made it difficult for Latics to create any chances in the early stages.

The Owls went ahead in bizarre circumstances in the 23rd minute when Power headed a long ball beyond Ben Amos and into the back of his own net.

Latics responded quickly when Will Keane’s header was well saved by keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

At the other end Amos did well to save Paterson’s effort from long range, before Jaden Brown missed a glorious opportunity to double the lead from close range.

Keane nearly drew Latics level on the half-hour mark, but his effort from the edge of the area was tipped around the post by Peacock-Farrell.

Latics forced a series of corners before half time but the visitors repelled all Latics’ efforts to draw level.

The hosts continued to press at the start of the second half with Keane heading Power’s corner onto the roof of the net.

Lee Gregory went close for the visitors in the 48th minute when he crashed a shot against the crossbar from Liam Palmer’s cross.

Paterson then hit a low volley just wide of Amos’ left-hand post.

The visitors doubled their advantage on the hour mark when Gregory easily dispossessed Whatmough near the bye-line and crossed for Paterson to finish powerfully into the top right corner.

Latics had a chance to reduce the deficit in the 67th minute when Callum Lang raced through on goal but Peacock-Farrell once again saved Wednesday.

Lang’s free-kick was narrowly wide in the 76th minute as Latics started to dominate the closing stages.

Lang was pushed over in the area in the 81st minute and Wyke coolly converted the spot-kick to reduce the deficit.

Gregory nearly restored Wednesday’s two goal advantage but Amos saved superbly from close range.

Roared on by the home fans Latics nearly drew level in the dying minutes when Peacock-Farrell pushed away Whatmough’s header.

Wednesday held on for a narrow victory. The two defensive mistakes had proved costly as Latics slipped to their first home defeat of the season.

The visitors physical presence had caused Latics problems but the hosts had struggled to find their usual fluidity.

Manager Leam Richardson gave his view afterwards,

“The disappointing thing is the result,” he said.

“I thought the lads didn’t leave a breath out there and they were probably worthy of something, in my opinion. 

“If we are going to be critical, I thought in the first 10 minutes, we didn’t get to grips with Sheffield Wednesday. 

“They came with a direct style and they asked us questions early on. I thought the goals came from a couple of our mistakes – but the lads have been doing great. 

“Although they will take credit for a lot of what has gone before, I’ll take it for the result tonight because it’s up to me to reset everyone now. 

“The first question that I always ask myself – certainly as a coach and a manager – can the lads firstly represent themselves anymore and leave a breath out there for the Club? I thought they did tonight – right until the end. We were on the front foot and the momentum shifted in the last 20 minutes.

“The disappointing thing is the result, but the performance I’ve got to be pleased about.”

 

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Callum Paterson, Charlie Wyke, League One, Max Power, Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Beautiful Life Can Be When Latics Win – Wigan Athletic 2 Cheltenham Town 0

Callum Lang opened the scoring for Latics

  • Wigan group The Lathums released their excellent debut album ‘How Beautiful Life Can Be’ on Friday and they were the match sponsors as Wigan Athletic ran out comfortable 2-0 winners against Cheltenham Town.
  • Latics retain top spot in League One after eight games played and have now won five consecutive League games.
  • Callum Lang opened the scoring for the hosts after only eight minutes when he rifled home Charlie Wyke’s pass from close range.
  • Latics dominated proceedings and had further chances to increase their lead before Wyke added a second goal early in the second half.
  • The visitors had a couple of chances to reduce the arrears but in truth Latics should have won by more than the two goal margin.
  • Latics lead the League One table on goal difference from Sunderland while Cheltenham drop to 14th place.

League One Table

Leam Richardson named an unchanged starting line up from the side that won at Accrington Stanley last Saturday. Former Latics striker Kyle Joseph was selected for the visitors, whilst former goalkeeper Owen Evans was named on the bench for the Robins.

Latics started on the front foot and were ahead after only eight minutes through Lang. Max Power’s long ball was claimed by Wyke and the striker pulled the ball back for Lang inside the area and the striker took one touch before finishing into the bottom corner.

Lang should have added to his tally in the 17th minute when Will Keane found him inside the area but the Robins keeper Scott Flinders made an excellent save at point-blank range.

The hosts were in dominant form and Tom Naylor struck a powerful drive over from the edge of the area following good play from Wyke.

The visitors created a rare opportunity to equalise on the stroke of half time when Ellis Chapman turned inside the area and his cross deflected wide of the target.

Latics doubled their lead soon after half time. Lang found space before pulling the ball back to Wyke who slotted the ball into the corner from about eight yards out.

Cheltenham tried to respond and Alfie May unleashed a low shot which Ben Amos was forced to save. 

But Latics remained in the ascendancy and Tendayi Darikwa forced a good save from Flinders before Keane headed over from Darikwa’s cross.

Kell Watts saw his header well blocked by substitute Kyle Vassell from McClean’s corner and at the other end substitute Kyle Vassell saw his effort fly wide of Amos’ goal.

Latics nearly added a third when Naylor headed Power’s free-kick towards the top corner but Flinders did well to tip away. Naylor then had a snapshot go narrowly wide from Power’s clever pass.

McClean forced another good save from Flinders in the 85th minute with a powerful drive but Latics hadn’t really got out of third gear throughout.

They should have won by a greater margin but it was another convincing performance and to every home fans’ delight they remain top of the league. 

Once again there were strong performances throughout the team but Lang, Wyke and Power are in outstanding form at the moment.

Leam Richardson reflected on a deserved victory before looking forward to Latics taking on Sheffield Wednesday at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night.

“It’s a tough week for us,” he said.

“We knew how good Cheltenham are – they’ve had some fantastic results and now we quickly turn our attention to Sheffield Wednesday.

“They don’t need any introduction with the players that they’ve got, and the management team too.

“It should be an interesting game on Tuesday.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Callum Lang, Charlie Wyke, Cheltenham Town, Leam Richardson, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics move on up with Wyke double – Accrington Stanley 1 Wigan Athletic 4

Charlie Wyke off the mark with an impressive double

  • Wigan Athletic produced an emphatic performance to defeat Accrington Stanley 4-1 at the Wham Stadium.
  • Latics were in front after only seven minutes when Jack Whatmough thumped home from James McClean’s corner.
  • The visitors were two up after 18 minutes when Will Keane headed in Max Power’s cross.
  • Stanley reduced the deficit when Michael Nottingham hit a spectacular strike into the top corner on 53 minutes.
  • Latics restored their two goal advantage five minutes later when Keane set up Charlie Wyke and the former Sunderland striker chipped the ball over the advancing Stanley keeper James Trafford.
  • Wyke completed the rout in added time with his second goal and Latics fourth.
  • Latics move to the top of the table on goal difference and Accrington slip to eleventh place.

Latics go close

Leam Richardson named an unchanged side from last weekend’s win over Doncaster Rovers.

Latics were quick out of the blocks and Callum Lang was denied brilliantly from close range by James Trafford.

From the resulting corner Whatmough thumped the ball home at the back post to put Latics ahead after seven minutes.

Latics continued to press forward and first Keane and then Callum Lang went close to increasing the lead.

The visitors did add to their lead on 18 minutes when Keane powerfully headed home a well delivered cross from Power.

McClean then went through one-on-one with Trafford but the winger was unable to capitalise and the keeper saved comfortably.

2-0 to Latics at half-time but it could so easily have been four or five.

The visitors continued to dominate at the start of the second half with Keane, McClean and Kell Watts all going close inside the opening five minutes.

But against the run of play it was the hosts who scored next when Nottingham fired spectacularly into the top corner from just inside the box.

Latics responded quickly and restored their two goal advantage when Wyke grabbed his first goal for Latics.

Keane played a neat pass to Wyke inside the penalty area, who then produced a delicate chip over the advancing keeper Trafford to send the Latics travelling support into raptures.

In added time Wyke rounded off a superb team performance with his second and Latics fourth goal.

This had been a consummate away performance and after four straight wins it sends a message to the other teams in the division that they are strong promotion contenders.

League One Table

Manager Richardson rightly praised his team’s excellent performance afterwards.

“I have to say, all of the credit goes to the players – I thought the work ethic, work rate, application from start to finish was excellent and they carried it out flawlessly.

But Richardson urged calm despite such a strong start to the season.

“We have been in many campaigns and we know the tasks ahead of us and all of our challenges,” he explained.

“We will enjoy tonight but quickly our attention turns to Sunderland on Tuesday night.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Accrington Stanley, Charlie Wyke, Jack Whatmough, League One, Michael Nottingham, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Beautiful Bridesmaids Dressed in Oranje – The Unfulfilled Glory of Dutch Football by Gary Thacker

Gary Thacker’s ‘Beautiful Bridesmaids Dressed in Oranje’ provides an illuminating and in-depth analysis of the Dutch national team and their dramatic failure to win a World Cup.

This is an extensive history of Dutch football, but the narrative really gathers pace with the 1970s when they reached the World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978.

Despite creating Total Football and dominating the European scene in the 1970s, the Dutch’s inability to conquer the greatest prize is often seen as a mystery. Thacker does his best to explain the reasons while also revelling in the joys of Total Football and the Dutch counterculture.

Interestingly the Dutch had only qualified for the 74 World Cup when a wrongly awarded offside decision against Belgium allowed them into the finals.

Rob Smyth wrote in The Guardian,

“….it was Total Football that had got the Dutch to that point and, had they not progressed, the world would have been denied the opportunity of seeing one of the greatest sides never to win the World Cup fail so magnificently.”

Johan Cruyff and manager Rinus Michels were central to the development of the revolutionary Total Football which captured the imagination of fans everywhere.

It was a time when Art and Music became experimental, and a new footballing counterculture rose to prominence. At club level Ajax symbolised the style and swagger of the new Total Football and the Dutch national team were its international exponents.

Thacker quotes Jack Kerouac from ‘On the Road’ and makes comparisons with the Beat Generation to the passion and exhilaration exhibited by the Dutch team.

‘The only people for me are the mad ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.’

The Dutch certainly were a magnificent team with players like Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Ruud Krol, Arie Haan, Johnny Rep, Rob Rensenbrink etc and were extremely attractive to watch.  

Thacker explains in detail the Netherlands route to the 74 and 78 World Cup finals and the various reasons for their ultimate failure. It’s fair to say that the Dutch didn’t enjoy much luck in the finals and circumstances always seemed to conspire against them.

Although the Dutch have yet to win the World Cup, they did win the European Championships in 1988 defeating the Soviet Union in the final. The great irony was that in the two World Cup finals they had been the better team, but in 1988 many would say that the Soviet Union were superior. 

The Dutch reached the World Cup final again in 2010 in South Africa when they lost to Spain in the final. But by then the Dutch had become a more physical and unattractive team to watch and a far cry from the heady days of Total Football. 

In losing in 2010 they had become the only team in the history of the tournament to lose three World Cup finals. Whether the Dutch will ever win a final is open to debate, but Thacker provides a very strong case that they are the greatest football nation never to win a World Cup.

Beautiful Bridesmaids Dressed in Oranje – The Unfulfilled Glory of Dutch Football by Gary Thacker, published by Pitch Publishing, Price £16.99.

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

Posted in Book Reviews, Football Book Reviews, Gary Thacker, Holland, Johan Cruyff, Late Tackle magazine, Netherlands, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics getting better all the time – Wigan Athletic 2 Doncaster Rovers 1

Will Keane's double clinched the points for Latics

Will Keane’s double clinched the points for Latics

  • Wigan Athletic’s new team have started the season with surprising success and they are improving game by game.
  • Doncaster went ahead on 22 minutes when Tommy Rowe converted former Latic Joe Dodoo’s pass.
  • Latics weren’t ruffled by the setback and quickly responded when Will Keane headed home Max Power’s well-executed free-kick.
  • Early in the second half Keane added a second when he converted following Power’s cross and Callum Lang’s knock down.
  • The hosts controlled the remaining minutes and could have added to their lead but Lang blazed over from a good position.
  • Latics move up to second place in League One while Doncaster remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

Leam Richardson made two changes to his side from the 1-0 victory over Portsmouth,  with Max Power and James McClean coming back into the starting XI to replace Tom Pearce and Jordan Jones.

Former Latics players Joe Dodoo, Jordy Hiwula and Kyle Knoyle started for the Doncaster while Dan Gardner was on the bench.

The hosts started strongly and Lang fired over the crossbar.

Doncaster created an opportunity when former Latic Knoyle looked to find Dodoo at the back post, but the striker couldn’t quite make contact and Ben Amos was able to collect.

The visitors were ahead after 20 minutes when a throw-in was hooked into the area by Dodoo with Latics’ defence static and Rowe was free to volley into the net from 12-yards-out.

But Latics were unruffled and responded quickly. Power delivered a superb free-kick into the six-yard box and the unmarked Keane headed home.

Latics’ set-pieces were causing the visitors plenty of problems and from a McClean corner Kell Watts’ header forced an excellent fingertip save from Pontus Dahlberg after Jack Whatmough had headed back across the goal.

From Power’s next corner Tom Naylor headed narrowly over the crossbar at the near post.

Just before the interval Charlie Wyke was brought down just outside of the area by Ro-Shaun Williams. McClean’s subsequent free-kick was fired wide of Dahlberg’s left-hand post.

The second half started with Latics dominating possession and they went close again when Power’s set-piece found Watts and the Newcastle loanee’s header forced another superb one handed save from the Rovers keeper.

Latics went ahead on 52 minutes when Keane added his second of the game and his third of the season.

Power’s inviting cross found Lang, who headed into the path of Keane, who turned smartly and slotted past Dahlberg. Rovers appealed for offside but the referee and linesman were in agreement and the goal stood.

Latics looked like they would increase their lead and Lang forced another good save from Dahlberg from distance.

The game continued to be dominated by Latics, and in the 70th minute Lang had an opportunity to seal the points but he fired wide of the angle of post and crossbar from about nine yards out.

Late pressure from Doncaster never really materialised and Latics ran out comfortable winners.

This had been another strong team performance against a hardworking Doncaster team.  Defensively Latics had been very solid with Whatmough and Watts outstanding. They now have strength in depth all over the pitch and the competition for a starting place can only be healthy for the team’s progress.

Leam Richardson was pleased with how his team responded to going behind and although he would liked to have added to the lead he was happy with the overall performance.

Max Power was rightly proud on his 150th appearance for the club and he produced an accomplished performance on the day.

“It’s something I’m really proud of,” he said.

“It’s no secret how much I enjoy playing for the club. It’s a fantastic club and you see how many ex-players come back and I’m sure I won’t be the last to do it.

“I’m glad that I’m back, and I now want to show the Wigan fans that I have come back a better player.

“It’s a proud day for me to hit that milestone with my family here. Hopefully, I can stay fit now and reach more milestones.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Doncaster Rovers, League One, Leam Richardson, Max Power, Tommy Rowe, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics show composure and organisation to overcome Pompey – Wigan Athletic 1 Portsmouth 0

Callum Lang was on target for Latics

  • Latics were the victors in this closely contested encounter between two teams who will be hoping to challenge for promotion at the end of the League One season.
  • Callum Lang’s composed finish in the 78th minute made the difference in a game of very few chances at the DW Stadium.
  • Danny Cowley’s Pompey adopted a high press to put Latics under pressure but the home team showed good organisation and composure and as the game progressed the hosts posed a greater threat.
  • The result moves Latics up to fourth place in the League One table and Portsmouth are now in fifth spot.

Leam Richardson made one change to his line-up that had won 2-0 at Charlton Athletic with Tom Pearce replacing Max Power, new loanee Tom Bayliss from Preston North End was on the bench.

Right from the kick off the visitors pressed high and tried to impose themselves on the home team.

Portsmouth’s Clark Robertson had a header comfortably tipped over the crossbar by Latics’ keeper Ben Amos early on.

When Latics did break out of defence in the 19th minute Referee Christopher Sarginson wasn’t doing them any favours as Jordan Jones went down under a risky challenge in the Pompey box.

Soon afterwards Ronan Curtis’ had a header easily saved by Amos and in the 24th minute the unmarked Curtis had a goal-bound effort blocked by a Latics defender.

At the other end Tendayi Darikwa had a chance but his shot was saved low-down by Gavin Bazunu in the 37th minute.

The teams cancelled each other out at the beginning of the second half.

But Curtis had another chance on 57 minutes when from Kieron Freeman’s cross he headed over the crossbar.

As the half progressed the visitors lost their momentum and energy, and Latics started to find more space in their opponents half.

Substitute James McClean had replaced Jordan Jones on 54 minutes and along with Tom Pearce they were causing Pompey problems down the left hand side.

McClean and Pearce combined well in the 78th minute and from Pearce’s cross the ball fell to Lang at the far post, and the striker composed himself before finishing into the bottom corner. 

Portsmouth tried to respond but despite pushing numbers forward they didn’t manage to force a notable save from Amos.

Former Portsmouth players Jack Whatmough and Tom Naylor gave exemplary defensive performances for Latics.

It had been a game of few chances, Charlie Wyke tried his luck from 25-yards in the 87th minute but his shot was high and wide, and Latics saw out five minutes of added time.

For a newly assembled team Latics have exceeded expectations in the first five league games of the season. 

It’s been a very difficult set of opening fixtures but the team are already looking a very capable outfit.

Richardson was rightly upbeat about Latics’ start to the season after the game.

“We’re still making small steps and we’re absolutely made up with the start that we’ve had. From when they’ve come in pre-season, the lads have done everything that we’ve asked, and again they’ve responded after a bitty first half into a second half where I thought we were worthy of something.”

With two centre backs and a full back incoming Latics now look to have the strength in depth to mount a promotion challenge. 

With the backing of Phoenix 2021, Leam Richardson has done well to assemble such a strong squad in such a short space of time and the prospects for this season are now so much higher.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

 

Posted in Callum Lang, League One, Leam Richardson, Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics special away day in the capital – Charlton Athletic 0 Wigan Athletic 2

Captain Tendayi Darikwa broke the deadlock

Captain Tendayi Darikwa broke the deadlock

  • Latics produced a masterful away performance with a 2-0 victory at Charlton Athletic.
  • The visitors created numerous chances and were denied by at least five quality saves by home keeper Craig MacGillivray until captain Tendayi Darikwa broke the deadlock and headed his first goal for the club in the 88th minute.
  • In the 95th minute substitute James McClean making his second debut for Latics added a second goal and sealed the three points.

Leam Richardson named the same team that had drawn with Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday night. Gwion Edwards and new signing McClean were on the bench. 

The Addicks had FA Cup hero Ben Watson in their starting line-up and former Latic Jason Pearce on the bench alongside recent trialist Corey Blackett-Taylor.

The hosts exerted some early pressure from long throw-ins but Latics held firm and soon started to assert their authority.

In the 11th minute Callum Lang’s cross found Jordan Jones on the left side of the box but the winger could only steer his header against the crossbar.

Two minutes later Jones produced an excellent delivery and Will Keane forced a save from MacGillivray.

Latics continued to force the pace and from a Max Power free-kick Newcastle loanee Kell Watts had a header well saved by the Addicks keeper.

Around the half hour mark the hosts started to gain a foothold in the game and enjoyed more possession.

But it was the visitors who ended the half more strongly and from another Jones quality delivery Tom Naylor’s header was well parried away by MacGillivray.

In the second half the hosts threatened when Charlie Kirk’s shot was turned around the post by Ben Amos and Jayden Stockley set up an another opportunity for Kirk who should have finished at close range.

Richardson replaced Lang and Jones with McClean and Gavin Massey on 63 minutes and McClean was soon in the action firing his right footed shot just wide of the post.

MacGillivray came to the Addicks rescue again soon afterwards when Charlie Wyke’s header from Power’s cross was heading for the corner but the keeper managed to push it away.

Adam Matthews had a strike from the edge of the box which went wide of the target on 87 minutes, but a minute later Latics deservedly took the lead when Power’s excellent deep cross found Darikwa who had stolen in at the back post to head home past MacGillivray.

Stephen Humphrys replaced Keane on 92 minutes and three minutes later his defence splitting through ball set up McClean who took the ball around MacGillivray before finishing with ease and putting the seal on a brilliant away performance.

Manager Richardson was rightly delighted with the performance.

“First and foremost, I am made up with the result; I think the result comes on reflection of Tuesday’s performance.

“The 711 fans who came today, the way they sang, kept behind the team and helped the momentum shift towards the end of the game so to score two goals in front of them right in front of them at the end made for a fantastic afternoon.

“I thought we started the game ever so well and their keeper made three big saves and they possibly took control towards the end of the first half.

“We came out second half, imposed ourselves a little bit and then with the goals towards the end of the game, I thought we finished the game strongly.

“I felt we came away with our just rewards.”

It was a rare victory for Latics in London and the result was especially pleasing given that the team has only been together for a few weeks. If they can continue improving and if they can add a few more players they will surely be challenging at the top of the table.

Charlton v Wigan

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Charlton Athletic, James McClean, League One, Tendayi Darikwa, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Impressive Latics denied by late equaliser – Wigan Athletic 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1

Callum Lang2

Callum Lang gave Latics the lead

  • Latics produced an impressive attacking display against unbeaten Wycombe Wanderers at the DW Stadium.
  • The hosts went ahead on 47 minutes through Callum Lang’s strike.
  • It looked as though Latics would secure the three points but the Chairboys struck a 90th minute equaliser through Anthony Stewart and the points were shared.
  • Latics are in 14th place and Wycombe are in third after three games.
  • New signing James McClean was presented to the fans prior to kick off.

Leam Richardson made two changes to his starting line up from the victory against Rotherham with Jordan Cousins and Jordan Jones replacing Stephen Humphrys and Luke Robinson.

Latics started confidently with Callum Lang setting up Will Keane but the striker fired his effort over the crossbar.

Latics continued to press forward and should’ve been ahead on five minutes when Lang’s shot was deflected into the path of captain Tendayi Darikwa, but his effort from the edge of the six-yard box went narrowly wide of the post.

Wycombe’s first opportunity came in the 15th minute when the ball fell to Garath McCleary in the box, but the forward fired straight at Ben Amos. 

The visitors started to cause more problems with Anis Mehmeti being denied by an excellent block from Tom Naylor.

Mehmeti had then their best chance to open the scoring when after a neat one-two he volleyed straight at Amos from the corner of the six-yard box.

At the other end Charlie Wyke had an opportunity to open the scoring for Latics in the 34th minute after Jones whipped in an inviting cross but Wyke could only guide his header over. 

Latics had another big chance to break the deadlock just moments later after a poor back-pass allowed Jones to try his luck but his shot was easily saved by David Stockdale. Jones would surely have done better to square the ball with Wyke unmarked in a central position.

The hosts were unlucky in the 41st minute when Keane had the ball in the back of the net but he was adjudged as offside after he headed Jones’ cross into the net.

But Latics did go ahead early in the second half after Lang found space in the penalty area following Jones’ free kick, and fired his shot superbly into the top right corner.

Jones almost doubled the lead in the 54th minute when his left-footed strike from 25-yards forced a full-length save from Stockdale.

Latics nearly sealed the points in the 69th minute when Keane headed against the crossbar from Whatmough’s flick on from Max Power’s free-kick.

But despite creating numerous chances Latics succumbed to late pressure and Wycombe equalised in the 90th minute. 

From Sully Kaikai’s corner Anthony Stewart rose above Kel Watts at the back post and headed home to maintain Wycombe’s unbeaten start to the season.

It was a frustrating end for Latics, who had been impressive for most of the game. 

Afterwards Leam Richardson emphasised that it is important that his side keep making small steps forward during the infancy stages of their bonding.

“I think now we’re into our third league game and fourth [competitive game] with Hull City, with all the fundamentals that we’re trying to work on around the pitch, you’ve got to be careful as these lads have only been together competitively for four games, but there are some really good positives in there.

“There are some real good lads with the work ethic. I think the question that you’ve always got to ask yourself is could the group have given anymore for the shirt, themselves and each other, and I don’t think they could tonight.”

Latics’ new team have performed well in the difficult opening games against teams who are expected to be challenging at the top end of the table. 

It is still early days but Richardson is building a strong squad, with the signing of James McClean and with four or five more additions, they are capable of mounting a promotion campaign.

Latics face another tough game against Nigel Adkins’ Charlton on Saturday but the spirit in the camp is good and the competition for starting places is heating up.

64B3B2B2-7A3C-45AD-8C4C-10267DC361A3

Player ratings courtesy of WhoScored.com

Posted in Anthony stewart, Callum Lang, League One, Wigan Athletic, wycombe wanderers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment