Fast and furious fixture leaves Latics frustrated – Rochdale 3 Wigan Athletic 3

Callum Lang scored on his first League One start

Wigan Athletic missed an opportunity to move out of the bottom four in League One when they were held to a 3-3 draw by 10-men Rochdale.

In a fast and furious opening to the game Rochdale went ahead on seven minutes when Stephen Humphrys deflected shot evaded Owen Evans but Latics were level on nine minutes when Kyle Joseph turned home Dan Gardner’s cross from close range.

The visitors were ahead on 15 minutes when Callum Lang slotted his first Latics League One goal from inside the box after good work by Will Keane and Joseph. Latics were causing the hosts plenty of problems and should have increased their lead with Lang twice going close.

The hosts were reduced to 10-men on 40 minutes when Jim McNulty kicked out at Joseph while he was lying prone on the ground. Early in the second half Latics looked to be in control but a mistake by keeper Evans allowed the hosts back into the game.

A long kick from Gavin Bazunu was headed past the hesitant Evans and centre-back Adam Long was injured while trying to make a goal-line clearance and had to be withdrawn.

Will Keane controlled the ball superbly inside the six-yard box before volleying high into the net to restore Latics’ advantage on 77 minutes but the visitors just couldn’t hold on to their lead and were left frustrated as they conceded a 95th equaliser when Humphrys headed home.

Wigan move up to 22nd place in the table and Rochdale are in 18th spot one point above the relegation zone.

Latics were looking to avenge the 5-0 drubbing by Rochdale at the DW Stadium in December but it was a much changed line-up for Leam Richardson’s team. Latics had lost several senior players and loan players in recent days.

Keeper Evans was making his league debut whilst Lang made his first league start after returning from loan at Motherwell. Jamie Jones and Charlie Jolley were both self-isolating from Covid and were unavailable for selection and Richardson could only name four players on the bench.

New signing Tendayi Darikwa was making his debut after signing from Nottingham Forest. Keane was named team captain for the first time after signing for the rest of the season.

In a brisk opening period both teams went close with Aaron Morley firing just wide for the Dale and Gardner testing Bazunu for Latics.

The hosts were ahead on seven minutes when Humphrys initial free kick came back off the defensive wall and the striker’s second attempt was deflected past Evans into the net.

Latics were soon level when Gardner’s low cross was turned home from close range by Joseph for his fifth goal of the season. The visitors were quickly into their stride and went ahead on 15 minutes when Keane and Joseph combined to set up Lang who slotted home from inside the box.

The hosts were reduced to ten-men on 40 minutes when McNulty was dismissed by referee Andy Madly for kicking out at Joseph while he was on the ground.

Latics looked likely to go on to increase their lead against the 10-men Dale in the second half.

Joseph went close on 47 minutes when he couldn’t quite make a proper contact with Gardner’s shot and an excellent turn and strike by Keane was turned over the crossbar by Bazunu soon afterwards.

But disaster struck for Latics on 58 minutes when Bazunu’s long goal kick cleared the Latics defence, Evans was hesitant and Jake Beesley nipped in to head into the net despite the despairing efforts of Long who was injured in his attempt to clear the ball.

Latics continued to press for the winner with Darikwa making an impressive debut down the right.

Dale had a great opportunity on 74 minutes when Stephen Dooley headed narrowly wide from Matt Done’s cross.

But Latics restored their lead on 77 minutes when Keane superbly controlled the ball inside the six-yard box before volleying high into the net.

Pearce crossed for substitute Thelo Aasgaard on 80 minutes but the Norwegian youth international was only able to lift the ball over the crossbar from close range.

At the other end Evans made a good save from Dooley but Latics should have put the game to bed on 91 minutes when they broke quickly and had a three attackers against one defender but they failed to capitalise.

Seven minutes of added time and just when it looked like Latics would secure the three points to move out of the relegation zone they conceded.

Ryan McLaughlin crossed for Humphrys to rise above two Latics defenders to past Evans for the equaliser.

Latics finished the game with four full backs in the back line due to injuries and a lack of back up but credit should be given to Rochdale for battling for a point with only 10-men.

Richardson will be pleased with much of Latics attacking play but the defence is very vulnerable without any established centre-backs. Is some kind of emergency loan going to be possible in their currently constrained circumstances?

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Latics win basement battle in seven-goal thriller – Burton Albion 3 Wigan Athletic 4

Kyle Joseph

Kyle Joseph scored his first senior hat-trick for Latics

Striker Kyle Joseph scored his first senior hat-trick for Wigan Athletic as they defeated Burton Albion 4-3 in the battle of League One’s bottom two clubs.

The Brewers John Joe O’Toole headed the hosts ahead on 13 minutes following a series of corners. But the visitors equalised five minutes later when Darnell Johnson’s header was diverted into the net by Joseph’s knee.

Burton restored their lead on 25 minutes when Joe Powell’s deep cross found John Brayford who volleyed home at the back post. Latics were back level three minutes later when Joseph collected Olly Crankshaw’s cross and superbly rifled the ball into the top of the net from the centre of the box.

Some sloppy Latics defending allowed Kane Hemmings to restore the Brewers’ lead with a deflected shot on 72 minutes but the visitors restored parity almost immediately as Joseph completed an excellent hat-trick.

Latics took the lead for the first time on 83 minutes when Will Keane headed home from close range and held on to seal an important three points.

The result moves Latics to third bottom in the table and they now only remain in the relegation zone on goal difference. Burton remain bottom and are six points from safety.

Acting manager Leam Richardson made three changes to the team which had drawn with Shrewsbury. Olly Crankshaw, Thelo Aasgaard and Kyle Joseph came into the starting eleven with Kal Naismith injured and Alex Perry and Dan Gardner dropping to the bench.

Burton made the early running and forced a series of early corners. They took the lead with a well executed short corner routine when Charles Vernam’s cross was headed in at the near post by O’Toole.

But Latics were soon back level when Johnson headed into the box and Joseph was able to divert the ball into the net from close range.

The Brewers responded quickly and Brayford restored their lead with a close range volley at the back post from Powell’s deep cross.

Three minutes later and Latics were once again level as Joseph superbly rifled home from the centre of the box following Crankshaw’s cross.

2-2 at the interval but with both teams defences looking vulnerable more goals were to be expected.

Latics were unable to clear their lines on several occasions and the Breweres restored their lead on 72 minutes when Hemmings deflected shot found the bottom corner of the net.

But almost immediately Latics went up the other end and restored parity when 19-year-old Joseph completed his hat-trick with a left footed flick from the centre of the box following a good cross from Pearce.

The Brewers might have restored the advantage soon afterwards when Brayford’s strike from the edge of the box was deflected narrowly wide.

Latics were living dangerously as Powell wasted two opportunities for the Brewers. First he headed wide from a good position at the back post and then he blazed over from the edge of the box.

The misses were to prove crucial as Latics went in front for the first time on 83 minutes. Chris Merrie produced an inviting cross to the back post and Keane headed home from close range.

There was still time for Michael Bostwick to fire straight at Jones from the edge of the box but Latics rode out the final minutes and secured a memorable victory in the battle of the basement.

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Latics held in scrappy Boxing Day encounter – Wigan Athletic 1 Shrewsbury Town 1

Will Keane

Will Keane converted his spot-kick

Wigan Athletic were held at home by Shrewsbury Town in a scrappy Boxing Day game at the DW Stadium.

The visitors made the early going and former Latic loanee Leon Clarke wasted a good chance and later Shaun Whalley’s drive was well saved by Jamie Jones.

The hosts should have been awarded a penalty just before half time when Tom Pearce was fouled by Clarke but early in the second half Pearce was again upended and this time referee Seb Stockbridge awarded the penalty and Will Keane converted the spot-kick.

But the Shrews drew level on 66 minutes when Whalley’s sharp turn in the box deceived Darnell  Johnson and the striker finished decisively.

Latics had chances to win the game in the latter stages when Keane fired wide of the target from a good position and substitute Thelo Aasgaard had his goal bound strike blocked.

Latics remain second bottom in the League One table but move to within three points of safety. Shrewsbury have now gone six games unbeaten and are in 17th place.

Leam Richardson made one change from the team which had drawn at Fleetwood with Matty Palmer replacing Kyle Joseph who dropped to the bench.

Shrewsbury made the early running and Clarke should have given them an early lead on eight minutes when he clipped the ball over the crossbar from a central position inside the box.

Latics were struggling to get going and were giving the ball away far too easily in the opening stages.

It was a poor spectacle as neither side got to grips with the poor conditions on a bobbly pitch.

Latics were denied a penalty on 42 minutes when Pearce was clattered from behind but the referee Stockbridge bizarrely ignored the challenge.

Just before the interval Jones came to Latics’ rescue making an excellent save low down to his right when Whalley looked odds on to score.

Scoreless at half time but early in the second half Latics were in front. Pearce was again upended this time by Ro-Shaun Williams, the penalty was awarded and Keane confidently converted the spot-kick.

The Shrews tried to respond quickly and Jones had to made another good save to deny Matt MIller on 50 minutes.

Soon afterwards Naismith tried his luck from distance but his effort was easily saved by Matija Sarkic.

The visitors were now pushing forward and when Latics stood off and allowed them to build down the right-hand side it was no surprise when they equalised. The ball was played into Whalley who made a sharp turn inside the box and finished expertly past Jones into the corner of the net.

Clarke went close again soon afterwards heading wide from inside the six-yard box and at the other end Naismith snatched at his shot from the edge of the area and the ball flew wide.

Joseph replaced Naismith on 76 minutes as Latics looked to gain the advantage.

On 86 minutes Keane drove into the box after good link-up play with Tom James but his final shot was disappointing and failed to trouble Sarkic.

In added time the hosts might have won it when Johnson battled down the right-hand side before pulling the ball back to Aasgaard but the young Norwegian’s goal bound strike was blocked by Aaron Pierre and Latics had to settle for a point.

It hadn’t been a classic encounter but Latics can take credit for their hard work against in-form Shrewsbury and with two crucial fixtures against bottom club Burton and third bottom Swindon forthcoming the hope is that they can soon climb out of the bottom four.

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Latics fightback for a deserved point – Fleetwood Town 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Ollie Crankshaw scored his first senior goal for Latics

In a wind-affected game of two halves Wigan Athletic battled for a deserved point at Fleetwood Town.

With the wind at their backs the hosts had taken a first half lead through Danny Andrew’s superb 30-yard strike.

But Latics dominated the second half with the wind advantage and deservedly drew level in the 91st minute through substitute Ollie Crankshaw’s diving header.

In added time a lapse by Tom James provided an opportunity for Paddy Madden but Jamie Jones made a crucial save to deny him and ensure that Latics came away with a point.

Latics remain second bottom but are now only three points from safety in League One. Fleetwood remain in 10th spot in the table.

Leam Richardson was able to recall Kal Naismith after injury and Adam Long dropped to the bench alongside the returning Matty Palmer.

Joey Barton’s Fleetwood had former Latics loanees Charlie Mulgrew and Callum Connolly in their starting eleven

In very blustery conditions neither side was able to settle and passes were regularly going astray in the opening minutes.

But with the wind at their backs the hosts were at an adavantage and gradually started to enjoy greater possession.

Despite the wind advantage Fleetwood rarely threatened until on 27 minutes Danny Andrews took aim and unleashed an unstoppable drive from 30-yards which flew past Jones into the net.

The conditions were causing problems for both teams and although the hosts continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession they didn’t create any clear cut opportunities.

1-0 to Fleetwood at the interval but Latics could look forward to having the wind at their backs in the second half.

Early in the half there was a possible Latics penalty when Connolly slipped in the area and appeared to handle but referee James Oldham waved away appeals.

Naismith went close on 57 minutes when his header was well tipped around the post by Jayson Leutwiler as Latics started to assert themselves.

They had another appeal for a penalty on 71 minutes when Curtis Tilt was brought down in the area by Connolly but once gain no penalty was awarded.

As Latics upped the pressure Leutwiler was booked for wasting time.

The visitors were pressing high now and Kyle Joseph’s incisive pass nearly put Will Keane in the clear but Leutwiler raced out to deny him.

Crankshaw replaced Joseph in the 85th minute and the youngster was soon in the action causing problems down the right hand side.

Four minutes of added time were awarded and in the first minute of added time Crankshaw struck with a diving header from close range after Leutwiler had beaten away Keane’s initial effort.

There was still time for further drama though as James provided an opportunity for Paddy Madden but Jones made a crucial save to deny him and ensure that Latics came away with a point.

It was no more than they deserved after dominating the second half. Latics had managed to bounce back from the 5-0 drubbing by Rochdale and the players can be proud of their efforts against a team who have been tipped for promotion.

Latics now go into a series of six-pointers with fixtures against fourth bottom Shrewsbury Town on Boxing Day, bottom club Burton Albion on the 29th December and then third bottom Swindon Town managed by John Sheridan on January 2nd.

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Five-Star Dale give Latics a drubbing – Wigan Athletic 0 Rochdale 5

Tom James went closest for Latics

After the recent highs of victories against Sunderland and Accrington Latics came crashing back to earth with their worst performance of season.

The visitors were ahead after only four minutes when 17-year-old Kwadwo Baah unleashed an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box past Jamie Jones.

Dale were given far too much freedom to play and they were 2-0 up on 19 minutes when Aaron Morley’s cross found the unmarked Matt Lund who headed home from close range.

2-0 at the interval but worse was to come in the second half as the dominant visitors rammed home their advantage with further goals from Stephen Dooley, and a brace from Alex Newby.

Latics remain second bottom of the table after Burton Albion lost at Ipswich while Rochdale move up to 16th place. 

Leam Richardson named an unchanged team for the first time this season with Thelo Aasgaard returning to the bench after injury.

Latics started slowly and Rochdale were ahead after only four minutes when the former Crystal Palace youth player Baah unleashed a great strike past Jamie Jones.

The visitors were enjoying plenty of possession and causing plenty of problems for Latics out of sorts defence and it was no surprise when they increased their lead on 19 minutes. Morley was allowed time to cross and the unmarked Lund headed home from inside the six-yard box. 

Alex Perry volleyed over from inside the box after Tom James’ knock down, and James forced a good save from Jay Lynch at the back post as Latics tried to respond 

But Dale continued to look dangerous and Jones came to the rescue denying Newby, Lund and Stephen Humphrys as they looked to increase their advantage. 

2-0 at the interval but it could so easily have been three or four as Dale were allowed the time and space to dictate the game.

Would Latics up their game in the second half? Unfortunately the answer was no, as Dale continued to dominate.

Substitute Stephen Dooley was allowed time and space inside the box as Latics’ defence retreated and he made no mistake with a low drive into the bottom right corner.

Thelo Aasgaard replaced Will Keane on 60 minutes but Latics failed to pose any real threat to Rochdale.

Darnell Johnson appeared to be a little unlucky to concede a penalty on 63 minutes when he was adjudged to have fouled Humphrys, but Alex Newby made no mistake with the spot-kick.

Luke Robinson replaced the injured Tom Pearce on 64 minutes as Latics’ woes continued.  

In the 90th minutes James’ header was cleared off the line as they strived for a consolation and matters got worse two minutes later as Newby curled home Rochdale’s fifth goal to reinforce Rochdale’s complete domination.

Credit should be given to Rochdale but this had been a desperately disappointing display by Latics who were outplayed for most of the 94 minutes. The visitors had been given far too much time and space and they could easily have won by a greater margin.

It was a harsh lesson for many of Latics’ players who looked jaded after their recent wins against Sunderland and Accrington and there will need to be a massive improvement at Fleetwood on Saturday if they are to get anything from the game.

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Review: Extra Time – 50 Further Delights of Modern Football by Daniel Gray.

Extra Time Cover

Daniel Gray’s ‘Extra Time’ is a particularly welcome follow up to ‘Saturday 3pm’ at a time when many of us are unable to attend football matches in person.

Gray follows the format of his previous work with short well-crafted chapters about why football is so uniquely special. He reminds us about the shared joys, habits, eccentricities and peculiarities of the game with chapters such as comebacks, not being able to sleep after a night match, being in an empty ground and songs unique to your club.

Gray’s prose-poetry superbly illuminates the many joys of football.  “The comeback possesses mystique and charisma. It is talked about in a star-struck wonder, as if the words themselves are garnished by neon lights, and remembered for years. Most of all, it helps to maintain one of the key, monumental tenets of football’s stringent grip on us: hope.”

There are also many amusing aspects associated with football and Gray revels in them, for example, in the chapter on the referee falling over,

“This comic offering is base and slapstick. A man falling over would struggle to muster much more than a titter on a cinema screen. In the street we may try to help him up. However, it makes a football crowd jollier than Santa on laughing gas.”

Gray identifies that it is the small details that are so important to the football experience: local radio commentators; club lottos; the players celebrating a goal in front of you and goalkeepers going forward for corners.

What may appear mundane to non-football lovers for example, match balls on stand roofs, climbing the stairs into the stand and spotting a ground while on holiday are all a significant part of the football fan experience.

Gray understands the importance of football to family and community and his chapter on going to the match with his daughter is especially charming.

“When I took her to her first game, I wasn’t prepared for how much it would move me. To see her push a turnstile was, when your priorities are confused like mine are, more significant than the day she started school. I swear that when my daughter’s eyes met the pitch they were wider and bluer than they had ever been before, as if expanding to fit everything in and effervescing to complement the turf.”

If you enjoyed ‘Saturday 3pm’ you will no doubt enjoy these ‘50 Further Delights’. ‘Extra Time’ provides a timely escape from VAR, Project Big Picture and the like – and would make an ideal Christmas gift for any football fan.

Extra Time – 50 Further Delights of Modern Football by Daniel Gray. Published by Bloomsbury. Price £12.99.

This review first appeared in the December/January 2020/21 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

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Latics surprise Stanley in seven-goal thriller – Wigan Athletic 4 – Accrington Stanley 3

Leam Richardson

Leam Richardson working wonders with limited resources

Wigan Athletic secured a hard fought 4-3 victory against in-form Accrington Stanley at the DW Stadium.

Stanley’s John Coleman had been named League One manager of the month for November but his team were stunned by Latics in the first half as the League’s bottom club raced into a 3-0 lead at the interval.

Tom James brave diving header on 14 minutes had put Latics ahead before Dan Gardner’s superb volley had doubled their lead on 19 minutes and it looked as though it was game over on 32 minutes when Will Keane’s penalty made it 3-0.

But Stanley rallied in the second half and and reduced the deficit on 61 minutes when Joe Pritchard’s cross cum shot evaded everyone. Four minutes later and the visitors pulled another goal back with Michael Nottingham’s superb strike from 25-yards found the bottom corner.

The hosts were living dangerously now as the visitors pressed for the equaliser but on 83 minutes Latics increased their advantage when substitute Olly Crankshaw’s shot was deflected via Mark Hughes into the net.

There was still time for Stanley to pull another goal back on 86 minutes when Cameron Burgess converted following a goalmouth scramble.

But despite six minutes of added time Latics held out for a memorable victory and moved off the bottom of the League One table. Accrington drop to tenth place although they have several games in hand on those above them.

Latics were without Lee Evans, Kal Naismith and Thelo Aasgaard due to injury and they were replaced by Darnell Johnson, Will Keane and Chris Merrie in a 5-3-2 formation.

Accrington started brightly and forced three corners in the opening six minutes but Latics gradually grew into the game and started to threaten.

Tom Pearce got in behind the visitors defence and his penetrating cross found Kyle Joseph in the box but his shot was saved.

Moments later Joseph was involved again and this time it resulted in Latics taking the lead. The Scottish youth international’s strike from inside the box was only partially parried by Toby Savin and James’s brave diving header found the net despite the wing -back receiving a kick on the head from a defender.

Five minutes later Latics increased their advantage when an Accrington defender inadvertently flicked a high ball into his own penalty and Gardner expertly volleyed home from a tight angle.

Latics looked home and dry on 32 minutes when they went 3-0 up. The tenacious Chris Merrie battled his way into the box and Dion Charles brought him down.

Will Keane stepped up and comfortably converted the spot-kick firing high to the keeper’s left hand side.

Merrie then tested Savin with a strike from 25-yards which the keeper did well to push around the post.

Latics appeared to be in complete control with Merrie bossing the midfield, Keane showing good composure and linking up the forward play and Joseph battling brilliantly at the top of the pitch.

3-0 at half time but how would Stanley respond in the second half?

Coleman made two changes at the interval with both wing-backs replaced and Latics had to make a forced change with Adam Long replaced by Olly Crankshaw.

Joseph was proving a handful and Latics were closing down and getting tight for the early stages of the half.

But almost out of the blue the visitors struck when Pritchard’s cross cum shot evaded everyone including Jamie Jones.

Game on and Latics were further pegged back when four minutes later Nottingham’s superb strike from 25-yards found the bottom corner.

Latics were looking a little tired now and were not keeping possession like they had done in the first half.

Stanley were pressing for the equaliser but with seven minutes of normal time remaining Latics made it 4-2. Crankshaw’s deflected strike flew over Savin and into the top corner to seemingly relieve the pressure.

However, three minutes later Stanley pulled another goal back when Burgess converted following a goalmouth scramble and Latics were living dangerously again.

It was a nervous ending with six minutes of added time but Latics survived without any more real scares to record an important three points in their quest to avoid relegation.

Leam Richardson was rightly proud of his team’s excellent performance but great credit should also be given to the acting manager for working wonders with limited resources and during a long period of administration.

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Review: Who Are Ya? 92 football clubs and why you shouldn’t support them by Kevin Day

Who Are Ya? cover

Broadcaster, comedian and Crystal Palace fan Kevin Day provides a light-hearted and entertaining tour around the 92 football clubs and a few who have now dropped out.

The format for each club is as follows: a couple of quotes from disparate characters such as comedians, broadcasters or famous footballers; a couple of pages about the history of the club in question; some anecdotes; a little about the successes and failures of said club; plus a few bullet points about ‘Why You Shouldn’t Support Them.’

The book could have been just a reference guide for visiting away grounds but Day is more concerned with providing an entertaining read and steers away from any definitive overview while providing his own personal take on each club.

I found Day’s humour amusing but some readers may not find it to their liking. Here’s his bullet points on ‘Why You Shouldn’t Support Barnsley’ to help you decide.

  • Yeah, Yorkshire, we get it. Your badge has got a bloke on it wearing a flat cap, FFS.
  • They are friendly folk, but try asking for a half-pint in a Barnsley pub and see where it gets you.
  • The whole settling for the Championship thing. Like a couple who married too early but can’t be arsed to get divorced because they’ll argue about who gets the dog.

Despite the light-heartedness he does make some serious points, for example when discussing the Bradford City fire. “…Like you, I love football nostalgia. I will discuss old games, old players, old kits, old TV shows and old dogs on the pitch with great delight. But one thing we should always remember is that for all the exuberant joy of football, it could also be tragically shit.”

He also unearths some interesting facts, for example Newport County spending several years exiled in England and on what their first Chairman called ‘ a magical mystery tour of the Cotswolds.’ He discovers that the first black English football manager was Tony Collins at Rochdale who took them to the first League Cup Final in 1961.

One of the things that strikes you while reading the book is that so many football clubs have had fairly mundane existences with no major trophies, and few promotions or significant events in their histories.

He often hits the nail on the head, for example when he succinctly sums up Milton Keynes Dons. “It must be difficult being a fan of MK Dons. They are nobody’s second team and they are a  story that should never have been allowed to happen.”

Almost inevitably the longest chapter is about Crystal Palace and he does spend a bit too much time discussing Palace in the other chapters as well, but I suppose this is nit-picking and overall this is an enjoyable, amusing and sometimes illuminating stroll around the 92 clubs and beyond.

Who Are Ya? 92 football clubs and why you shouldn’t support them by Kevin Day. Published by Bloomsbury. Price £14.99.

This review first appeared in the December/January 2020/21 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

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You Are My Sunshine When Skies Are Grey – Sunderland 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Kyle Joseph scored his first goal for Latics

It’s been another difficult week for Wigan Athletic after the Spanish takeover of the club was rejected by the EFL but they showed great character and commitment to record their first win in 14 games at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland dominated possession but Leam Richardson’s well-drilled team were resilient and limited the hosts to very few chances.

The visitors secured the memorable victory with their only shot on target during the 95 minutes when 19-year-old Kyle Joseph scored his first goal for the club.

Latics are now joint bottom of the League One table with Shrewsbury and are five points from safety. Sunderland drop to ninth place.

Lee Evans  returned to the starting eleven after injury but Matty Palmer had picked up an injury at Lincoln and was replaced by Thelo Aasgaard.

Sunderland’s new manager Lee Johnson named former Latics’ favourites Will Grigg and Max Power in their starting line up.

The Black Cats started brightly and looked threatening in the open minutes as Latics stood off their opponents.

But against the run of play a quick counter attack on 16 minutes gave Latics an unlikely lead through the Scottish youth international Joseph. The big striker battled for the ball on the edge of the area before striking a powerful left footed shot with flew past Sunderland keeper Lee Burge.

Aidan McGeady went close for the hosts on 20 minutes when he fired into the side-netting from a good position. Soon afterwards Josh Scowen tried his luck from distance and forced a good save from Jamie Jones diving down low to his left.

The Black Cats were enjoying plenty of possession and Chris Maguire blazed over from inside the box on 38 minutes as Latics lived a little dangerously,

The game continued in similar vein in the second half with the hosts enjoying the lion’s share of possession and Latics defending solidly.

Kal Naismith had battled well alongside Joseph upfront but had to be withdrawn with an injury and replaced by Olly Crankshaw on 62 minutes. The substitute nearly got on the end of forward pass by Evans soon afterwards but keeper Burge was able to clear.

McGeady then forced an excellent save from Jones who spectacularly tipped the Republic of Ireland international’s effort over the crossbar.

McLaughlin shot wide from the edge of the box as the hosts camped themselves in Latics’ half of the pitch.

Chris Merrie replaced Perry on 84 minutes as Latics continued to battle for any loose ball and to keep Sunderland at bay.

Scottish youth international Luke Robinson made his League One debut replacing Gardner on 94 minutes and Latics held out for a deserved three points.

Latics’ defence had limited their opponents to very few chances but when they did penetrate Jones was in fine form between the sticks.

This result was a ray of sunshine for a club that is still in administration and going through some dark times. Richardson’s Academy players and a few experienced professionals deserve great credit for producing such an excellent performance and in such difficult circumstances.

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Hard times for Wigan Athletic – Lincoln City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Kal Naismith

Kal Naismith had given Latics the lead

Latics were unlucky to suffer a narrow 2-1 defeat to high-flying Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.

Kal Naismith’s deflected strike had given the visitors a 52 minute lead but a controversial free-kick was awarded to Lincoln on the edge of the area on 69 minutes and Jorge Grant curled the ball into the top corner for the equaliser.

In a closely fought game neither side created many clear cut chances but with seven minutes of normal time remaining the ball fell to Tom Hopper in the area and his low drive from inside the box went through the legs of defender Adam Long and into the net.

Latics were unable to respond to the setback and have now gone 13 games without a win and remain bottom of League One. Promotion chasing Lincoln move up to second in the table.

Naismith and Dan Gardner returned to the starting line up after injury but Gavin Massey was unavailable due to injury along with five other senior players.

Michael Appleton’s fourth placed Lincoln were looking to move up into the automatic promotion places but Latics matched their opponents in the first half.

Latics best chance of the half came on 27 minutes when Naismith headed the ball down to Curtis Tilt on the edge of the area but the on-loan defender’s strike was deflected for a corner.

The hosts best opportunity came on 41 minutes when Tilt’s mistake allowed Hopper to set up Brennan Johnson but the Nottingham Forest loanee poked the ball wide of the target from a good position in the centre of the box.

Latics had enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half and were organised and resilient in defence.

Early in the second half Tom James should’ve put the ball in the net from close range but he was flagged for offside.

Latics were went ahead on 52 minutes after good work by Matty Palmer. The Swindon loanee won the ball in his own half and played a quick forward pass to Naismith whose right footed shot was deflected past the wrong footed Lincoln keeper.  

The game then entered a scrappy period with neither side creating any chances until referee Sam Purkiss made a highly controversial decision to award a free kick to Lincoln on the edge of the area.

Unfortunately for Latics the free kick was a huge turning point as Grant executed his set-piece to perfection curling the ball into the top corner.

Lincoln now had a foothold and they started to push Latics back into defence. On 81 minutes Tom James cleared off the line after Naismith had inexplicably headed the ball back to Joe Walsh. 

Then on 83 minutes Hopper found space inside the Latics box and turned before firing low through the legs of Long and into the net.

It was hard for Latics to take after matching their promotion chasing opponents for much of the game. Fine margins had decided the game and on another night they might have come away with at least a draw.

Leam Richardson’s youthful charges are making small steps forward but they need their senior players back from injury as soon as possible if they are to move away from the relegation zone. 

The Spanish takeover has still not been decided by the EFL and unless a decision is made this week it may be too late for the new owners to recruit new players in the transfer window.

Latics have enjoyed great success in recent years but it now seems as though nothing is going in their favour. 

Lincoln away

Player ratings courtesy of

Posted in Jorge Grant, Kal Naismith, League One, Lincoln City, Tom Hopper, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment