Grigg helps Latics to move on up – Wigan Athletic 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

Will Grigg Wigan Athletic

Will Grigg scored his 6th goal of the season

Will Grigg helped Wigan to move out of the bottom three in the Championship with a late winner against Wolves. The prolific marksman had been left out of the starting line up by manager Gary Caldwell but he came off the bench to secure the three points in the 89th minute.

Loanee striker Adam Le Fondre had replaced Grigg in the starting eleven and he gave Latics a great start when he converted Max Power’s low cross in the sixth minute.

Wolves got back into the game on 34 minutes when Prince Oniangue equalised after a mistake by Jake Buxton had gifted possession.

But Grigg’s late finish deservedly gave Latics their first victory in eight matches and eased the pressure on manager Gary Caldwell. Latics are now in 21st place in the table after 1o matches played. Wolves drop down to 11th after the defeat.

Latics made two changes to the side which narrowly lost to Preston on Friday, with Adam Le Fondre and David Perkins replacing Will Grigg and Michael Jacobs.

Wigan got off to a perfect start and went ahead after only six minutes through Adam Le Fondre.

David Perkins and Max Power combined superbly down the right hand side before Power produced an excellent low cross which was slotted home by Le Fondre for his first goal for the club.

The visitors quickly responded and Adam Bogdan did well to hold onto a header by Danny Batth despite the close proximity of both Romain Saiss and Ivan Cavaliero.

Helder Costa fired over the crossbar after 22 minutes as Wolves went in search of the equaliser.

Despite the Wolves pressure Latics were defending well with Dan Burn, Jake Buxton and Stephen Warnock all making good interceptions.

But Buxton undid his previous good work by giving away possession on 34 minutes and Wolves capitalised on the mistake.

Buxton dallied on the ball in the corner and was dispossessed by Cavaliero who then played the ball to Prince Oniangue, who produced a neat finish from 18 yards out.

Despite Wolves drawing level Latics were still enjoying plenty of possession but failing to create many clear cut chances.

The teams were fairly evenly matched at the interval and the scores remained level.

Latics went close at the beginning of the second half when Jordi Gomez headed over the crossbar following a good cross by Warnock.

But the visitors always looked dangerous on the break and Danny Batth saw his header from a corner cleared off the line by Buxton.

Latics continued to dominate possession as the half progressed but they were still failing to create many chances.

Caldwell decided to make changes on 66 minutes and Nick Powell and Will Grigg replaced Le Fondre and Gomez.

Despite the positive changes they continued to struggle to make the breakthrough and Michael Jacobs was introduced with eight minutes remaining.

With 89 minutes on the clock Latics finally got their rewards for all their hard work.

Jake Buxton’s route one ball found Grigg alongside Batth but the striker was able to hold off the defender’s challenge before rounding Ikeme and finishing with aplomb from a tight angle.

Much relief for the home fans and ‘Will Grigg’s On Fire’ resounded from around the DW Stadium.

Latics had secured a much needed victory which will hopefully help to kickstart their season starting at Brentford on Saturday.

Posted in Adam Le Fondre, Championship, Prince Oniangue, Wigan Athletic, Will Grigg, Wolves | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Derby day disappointment for Latics – Preston North End 1 Wigan Athletic 0

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Under the lights at Deepdale

Latics suffered the disappointment of a narrow 1-0 defeat to Preston despite dominating this Lancashire derby for long periods.

Jordan Hugill’s deflected Aidan McGeady’s shot past Adam Bogdan after only seven minutes gave North End the lead.

But Latics had the better of the first half and created plenty of chances. Will Grigg went closest when he headed just over from Yanic Wildschut’s cross.

In a more even second half there were opportunities for both teams with Hugill forcing a superb one-handed save from Bogdan and Nathan Byrne hitting the post after first being denied by a good save from Chris Maxwell.

Latics had produced a spirited effort, but despite having more shots and more possession than North End, they had failed to make their dominance count. Latics remain third bottom and Preston move up to 18th in the table.

Gary Caldwell made just the one change from the 0-0 draw with Fulham, with Nathan Byrne coming in for the injured Alex Gilbey.

Latics were soon up against it as North End took an early lead. Aiden McGeady’s shot struck Hugill inside the box and the deflection wrong-footed Adam Bogdan who could do nothing to prevent the goal.

Wigan quickly responded and Michael Jacobs had an opportunity but mis-kicked his effort from inside the box, before Jordi Gomez fired over the crossbar. The best chance of the half came soon afterwards when Will Grigg headed just over the bar from Yanic Wildschut’s cross.

Latics continued to press forward and from a Max Power cross Jordi Gomez had a rare goal-bound header but it was wide of the target.

On 32 minutes Latics won a free kick on the edge of the box and Gomez’s low effort went under the wall but was saved by Maxwell.

Around the 40 minute mark a quick one-two between Gomez and Grigg, saw Gomez try his luck from outside the box with a low drive, but the ball hit the side netting.

Latics were still on top as the game moved towards half time but they had been unable to make their territorial dominance count.

The second half opened with chances at both ends. First Chris Maxwell saved Grigg’s drive before Hugill found himself in space in the box and his low shot look destined for the bottom corner but Bogdan got down superbly to turn the ball away for a corner.

Nick Powell replaced Shaun MacDonald on 52 minutes and soon afterwards David Perkins came on for Michael Jacobs.

Latics came closest to equalising on 60 minutes when Byrne was twice denied. Wildschut’s cross found him at the back post and his first effort was saved by Maxwell’s leg and his second beat the keeper but unluckily struck the post.

McGeady had a rare effort for Preston on 67 minutes but his shot was well wide of the target.

On 73 minutes Latics made their final substitution with Craig Davies replacing Byrne.

Nick Powell was having plenty of possession in midfield and making some penetrative runs forward, but on a couple of occasions his efforts from distance were well over the crossbar.

On 85 minutes Latics won a free kick 20 yards out and slightly to the right of the target. Would this be be moment that Gomez would step up and bring Latics level? Unfortunately this time the answer was No, as the Spaniard’s effort was well saved by Maxwell.

On the counter attack Pearson had a chance for Preston but his effort went wide.

Latics continued to press forward right up to the final whistle but it was to no avail as Preston held on for the precious three points.

Latics had been the dominant force for much of the game but they had lacked the quality in the final third to break through a resolute North End defence.

Wigan next face Wolves at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night and manager Gary Caldwell be looking for the right combination of players to end their winless run of seven matches and get their season back on track.

Posted in Championship, Gary Caldwell, Jordan Hugill, Preston North End, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

12th Man – Playing the killer pass

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Jordi Gomez

Latics will be looking to move above local rivals Preston North End and out of the bottom three with a victory tonight at Deepdale. Both teams are struggling for a run of consistent form, with Latics having only gained one point in their last five league games, and the Lilywhites having won two in five.

Preston were hammered 5-0 at Brentford last Saturday although they defeated Bournemouth after extra time in the League Cup on Tuesday night.

Manager Simon Grayson lamented his players ‘kamikaze performance’ at Griffin Park and a similar defensive display would certainly ease Latics’ task at Deepdale.

There were plenty of signs of improvement for Latics against Fulham last Saturday. They were more solid in defence with none of the individual errors that have blighted the team’s early season results.

Going forward they created plenty of chances and with a better final cross/pass and a little luck they would have taken all three points.

Shaun MacDonald had his best game in Wigan colours and is starting to show why he was signed as a replacement for Sam Morsy. The Wales international midfielder won important tackles, passed the ball effectively and provided good protection for the back four.

Latics will be looking to exploit Preston’s defensive vulnerabilities tonight and with Will Grigg in the team they are always capable of getting a good result. Service to the prolific marksman will be a crucial aspect if they are to be successful.

Latics have the players who can provide the ammunition for Grigg with Jordi Gomez, Michael Jacobs and Yanic Wildschut all prominent creators.

Michael Jacobs has had a good start to the season but there is a feeling that he is still capable of doing a bit more in the final third.

Yanic Wildschut can sometimes be a frustrating player as he can more often than not beat his marker but his final cross or shot can let him down.

The Dutchman has great pace and created numerous chances last season scoring nine goals, if he can just be more consistent with his final ball he will be a top player in the Championship.

Jordi Gomez was in great form against Fulham and his quality passing set up some excellent chances for Latics.

In a tight game when space can be at a premium every team needs a player who can play the pass that nobody else can see. Jordi’s ability to find the killer pass and his delivery from set-pieces could have a big say on the final result at Deepdale.

This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 23rd September 2016.

Posted in Championship, Jordi Gomez, Michael Jacobs, Preston North End, Shaun MacDonald, Wigan Athletic, Will Grigg, Yanic Wildschut | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An appreciation of the 0-0 draw – Wigan Athletic 0 Fulham 0

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Man of the Match Jordi Gomez

Sometimes in football things aren’t perfect but you can still appreciate the experience.

After a run of four defeats with some poor defending Latics needed to get some points on board and Fulham were keen to maintain their good start to the season.

Despite the 0-0 score line there were plenty of exciting incidents throughout and chances for both sides to win it.

Neeskens Kebano tested keeper Adam Bogdan early on and then Will Grigg and Jordi Gomez went close for Latics.

In the second half striker Chris Martin nearly broke the deadlock for Fulham with an overhead kick.

Michael Jacobs and substitute Adam Le Fondre had good opportunities before substitute Nick Powell nearly won it at the death with a drive which was superbly tipped over the crossbar by keeper David Button.

Wigan move up a place to third bottom and Fulham slip down to 9th in the table.

There was a noticeable tension amongst the home fans prior to kick off as another defeat would encourage the critics of manager Gary Caldwell.

The Latics manager made just the one change to the side which lost 2-1 at Norwich, with Yanic Wildschut returning to the side in place of the injured Reece Burke.

The visitors started brightly and Neeskens Kebano drew a good low save from Adam Bogdan in the third minute.

But Latics soon got into their stride with Man of the Match Jordi Gomez pulling the strings in midfield. The creative midfielder was once again at the centre of Latics’ best attacks.

The Spaniard threaded a great ball through to Will Grigg on six minutes and the striker’s low shot beat Button at the near post but unfortunately found the side netting.

Michael Jacobs tried his luck from distance after 22 minutes but his effort flew over the crossbar.

Latics suffered a cruel blow on 30 minutes when makeshift right back Alex Gilbey was carried off on a stretcher after a seemingly innocuous challenge.

The home team’s bad luck with injuries to right backs continues. Nathan Byrne came on to make his home debut.

Soon afterwards Gomez might have got on the score sheet when he picked up a loose ball in the area but dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Fulham always posed a threat on the counter attack but Latics had the better of the opening half.

The second half continued in similar fashion with Latics having plenty of possession but unable to make the breakthrough.

Chris Martin went close for the visitors with an attempted overhead kick but fortunately for Latics his effort was wide of the post.

With 20 minutes remaining Caldwell brought on Adam Le Fondre in place of Will Grigg.

The new signing was quickly involved but he blazed an effort wide of the far post after great work by Nathan Byrne.

Latics continued to pass the ball effectively, with Shaun MacDonald having his best game in midfield, and they created a good chance for Michael Jacobs with six minutes remaining.

The winger’s drive from the right hand side of the area was well saved low down by Button.

As the match moved towards full time both teams had chances to win it.

Fulham substitute Matt Smith nearly forced the ball home with four minutes remaining but a last ditch tackle by Jake Buxton denied him superbly.

Latics then nearly secured the three points when substitute Nick Powell dispossessed Kebanos in the Fulham area before unleashing a rising drive but Button did superbly to tip over.

Ultimately the points were shared. It had been an enthralling game with plenty of chances for both teams. Not all 0-0 draws are boring. Latics had stopped the rot after some poor defensive displays and had shown they are capable of becoming a good team in this division.

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12th Man – Seeing the bigger picture

There is no doubting that Latics have had a disappointing start to the season but some of the comments from fans on the various social media forums do beggar belief. Much of the criticism of the manager’s tactics and players attitude is way wide of the mark.

It is fair to say that Latics could easily have had more points on the table if it were not for some crazy mistakes. In every game so far they have been competitive and when they have lost, it was not by more than one goal.

Fans pay their money and have the right to express their opinions but some just don’t see the bigger picture. The level of negativity and despondency after only seven games in the Championship is quite shocking. Calls for Gary Caldwell to be sacked and to say that the team is not good enough are very premature.

Latics comfortably won the League One title last season under the guidance of Caldwell and there was always going to be a transition period as the manager and team adjust to the step up in quality in the Championship.

With 14 new signings, injuries and suspensions it was inevitable that it would take time for the team to come together.

The team has not been outplayed in any of their games so far this season and in the last two away games they have faced likely promotion contenders Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich City.

I’m sure that no one at the club is shirking the responsibility for the results, but everyone should be aware that they have been beaten by two of the top teams in the Championship.

At Hillsborough they acquitted themselves well against the team that lost in the play-off final last season and at Carrow Road against a Premier League quality squad they could easily have secured a point after they produced a stirring second half fight-back. On Tuesday night Latics had 57% possession and had 13 goal attempts to Norwich’s 16.

Despite the negativity from some fans there are plenty of positive signs that results will improve. The return of captain Craig Morgan and last season’s player of the year David Perkins can only give the team a boost.

The performance of the returning Jordi Gomez at Norwich showed what an important player he can be for the club. The Spaniard was at the centre of Latics’ best moves, scored a great goal and was so near to getting an important equaliser.

There are also indications that the new players are starting to settle and if they can eradicate the silly defensive mistakes then the club can move forward.

This team is still in development and the fans need to show patience. The Championship has consistently shown that any club is capable of beating another. The margin between success and failure is now extremely tight.

The fans that vent their anger at Caldwell’s team really ought to take a step back, understand that this is a new group of players in a higher division and support them rather than constantly berating them.

This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 16th September 2016.

Posted in Championship, Gary Caldwell, Jordi Gomez, Norwich City, Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Late show is not enough for Latics – Norwich City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

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Jordi Gomez scored on his return to Latics

Despite a much improved second half display Latics slumped to second bottom in the Championship table after a 2-1 defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road.

A disastrous blunder by Wigan keeper Adam Bogdan gifted Jacob Murphy the lead after only three minutes and Murphy added a second on 11 minutes after Bogdan could only parry Wes Hoolahan’s initial effort.

Latics were lucky to go into the interval with only a two goal deficit, but they rallied in the second half and pulled a goal back through Jordi Gomez’s strike on 72 minutes.

In a hectic finale the Canaries keeper Michael McGovern denied Latics a late leveller with excellent saves from Yanic Wildschut and Will Grigg.

Wigan made three changes from the starting line up at Sheffield Wednesday with Jordi Gomez, Shaun MacDonald and Dan Burn replacing Nick Powell, Luke Garbutt and Luke Burke.

Latics got off to the worst possible start and conceded in the third minute following a blunder by keeper Adam Bogdan. The Liverpool loanee took his eye off the ball when receiving a pass from Jake Buxton and was dispossessed by Jacob Murphy who had the simple task of rolling the ball into the net.

Matters got worse for Latics in the 11th minute when they conceded a second. Wes Hoolahan’s shot from close range was parried high into the air by Bogdan and Murphy headed home at the far post.

Norwich were now in complete control and Bogdan did well to save from Hoolahan and turn the ball away for a corner.

Latics responded towards the end of the half with Gomez setting up Alex Gilbey, whose drive from the edge of the box was well saved by Michael McGovern.

Will Grigg looked to have been brought down in the box by Timm Klose, but the referee Keith Stroud waved away appeals.

Michael Jacobs then produced a dangerous cross which was diverted for a corner by Martin Olsson, with Gomez ready to pounce.Reece Burke then tried a speculative effort from distance but McGovern saved.

Latics were grateful for some profligate finishing by Norwich or they might have been four goals behind at the interval.

The Canaries continued to press at the start of the second half. Bogdan had to save from Hoolahan on 52 minutes, and soon afterwards Russell Martin fired a shot just wide of the post.

Gary Caldwell decided to try to turn the game in Latics’ favour by introducing Yanic Wildschut and Nathan Byrne in place of MacDonald and Burke.

Byrne quickly set up a shot for Gomez. Wildschut forced a panicked clearance and Jacobs fired a 25 yard free kick just over the crossbar.

Wildschut nearly pulled a goal back on 67 minutes, but McGovern produced a superb save to deny the Flying Dutchman.

But in the 72nd minute Latics reduced the deficit. Byrne fed Grigg and his pass set up Gomez on the edge of the box and the Spaniard’s left foot drive beat McGovern.

A minute later Gomez’s free kick from 20 yards out once again beat McGovern but this time unfortunately hit the side netting.

Latics pushed for the equaliser with Gomez at the centre of the best moves.

Caldwell introduced Craig Davies in place of Gilbey on 84 minutes as Latics went for all out attack.

Grigg had a shot blocked and then Norwich substitute Alex Pritchard fired just wide on the break.

With five minutes of added time Latics now looked the most likely to score. Wildschut broke down the right and produced a tempting cross and Grigg’s header produced a great save from McGovern.

There was a final flurry from a corner with Bogdan now in the opposing box, panic ensued, but ultimately the ball went out of play and Latics hopes were dashed.

Posted in Adam Bogdan, Championship, Jacob Murphy, Jordi Gomez, Norwich City, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics fail to capitalise on great start – Sheffield Wednesday 2 Wigan Athletic 1

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The view from the Leppings Lane Stand

Latics got off to a great start at Sheffield Wednesday when they went ahead within the first five minutes through Will Grigg.

But instead of building on the lead Latics were forced back and had to defend against consistent pressure. Wednesday showed plenty of quality throughout and demonstrated why they are likely to be amongst the promotion contenders at the end of the season.

Wednesday’s new signing Steven Fletcher drew the home team level after 29 minutes and after a sustained period of pressure Fernando Forestieri secured the three points on 62 minutes.

Gary Caldwell made two changes from the the last line-up against Queens Park Rangers with new signing Reece Burke and Luke Burke replacing the injured Craig Morgan and Shaun MacDonald.

Latics had an early scare after only two minutes when Forestieri got in behind the defence but Luke Burke made an excellent last ditch interception to clear the danger.

Three minutes later Latics went ahead after good work by Michael Jacobs and a clinical finish by the prolific Will Grigg.

Jacobs picked the ball up on the left hand side and beat his man before cutting the ball back to Grigg in the area and the Irishman finished with ease from close range.

Will Grigg has now scored an incredible 25 goals in his last 27 appearances – what an amazing player to have at the club.

Latics tried to build on their advantage but they were quickly pushed back by Wednesday.

If Latics had got to half time with their lead in tact they might have gone on to get something from the game, but on 30 minutes Fletcher outmuscled Luke Buxton and guided the ball beyond Bogdan and into the far corner of the Latics net.

It was now an uphill struggle and when Nick Powell went down with a groin injury on 40 minutes, Latics were forced to change their line up with Shaun MacDonald coming on.

There was a period of intense action just before the interval as first Luke Burke almost regained Latics the lead, but Keiren Westwood tipped his rasping drive over the crossbar.

Then Forestieri went close for Wednesday, before at the other end Max Power turned Grigg’s cut back over the crossbar.

Caldwell reshuffled the line up at half time with Adam Le Fondre making his debut in place of Luke Burke. But Wednesday maintained the upper hand and Latics had to be content to defend deep.

Yanic Wildschut was introduced in place of Luke Garbutt on 59 minutes in an attempt to change the pattern of play, but Wednesday went ahead on 62 minutes after Forestieri finished at the second attempt through a crowd of Latics defenders.

Wednesday might have added to their lead when substitute Gary Hooper’s acrobatic overhead kick was well saved at close range by Adam Bogdan.

Latics tried to up their game in the final stages but ultimately they were outdone by a talented team who will surely be in the promotion shake up at the end of the season.

 

 

Posted in Championship, Fernando Forestieri, Sheffield Wednesday, Steven Fletcher, Wigan Athletic, Will Grigg | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment