An emotional end to Latics’ tragic season – Wigan Athletic 0 Rotherham United 0

Shaun Maloney managing in very difficult circumstances

  • Following a fifth late payment of wages Wigan Athletic’s depleted first team played out a goalless draw with Rotherham United at the DW Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday.
  • Latics had eight academy players taking the pitch during the game and handed league debuts to 21-year-old goalkeeper Sam Tickle and Anthony Scully.
  • With several players playing out of position the hosts struggled for early cohesion but were able to keep the scores level.
  • There were some promising displays by Latics Academy graduates with third choice goalkeeper Tickle particularly impressive.
  • Latics finish rock bottom of the table after an horrendous season characterised by the damaging decisions of Phoenix 2021. Rotherham finish in 19th place.

Shaun Maloney made six changes to his team and a number of his starting XI were, to their credit, playing without receiving their April salaries.

Rotherham had the first attempt at goal after eight minutes as Tariqe Fosu fired a low strike at which Tickle did well to push away to safety.

Latics first opportunity came after 18 minutes as James McClean crossed for Thelo Aasgaard, but his effort from 10 yards out was right at the Rotherham keeper Viktor Johansson.

The previously rarely seen Scully was looking a threat for the Tics but it was the visitors who next went close.

Tom Pearce gave the ball away in a dangerous area, but Jordan Hugill’s effort was blocked and then well saved by Tickle.

Aasgaard had the first effort of the second half six minutes after the break as he hit a shot from 25 yards, but his effort was well blocked.

At the other end Hugill dragged his shot wide before Tickle once again did well to palm a ball out from under his own crossbar following a dangerous cross from the left which looked like it was going in.

Young striker Chris Sze replaced Steven Caulker on the hour mark for his league debut and he was close to putting Callum Lang through on goal.

Tickle continued to impress in Latics’ goal and on 65 minutes as palmed away Domingos Quina’s 25-yard free-kick before Aasgaard had Latics’ best chance so far as he met Lang’s deep cross with a header, but unfortunately it was straight at Johansson.

Abdi Sharif replaced Scully on 69 minutes for his full Latics debut and he was straight into the action as he laid the ball off for Pearce to find McClean with a cross, but he fired over.

Rekik was then close to getting his first Latics goal as his header at the back post following a Lang free-kick was tipped wide before Aasgaard was involved again as his 30-yard curling effort was again saved by Johansson.

From the resulting corner, the ball found its way to Christ Tiehi outside the area, but his effort just missed the top corner. Lang then tried his luck from 30 yards, but again Johansson saved comfortably.

Charlie Hughes then had a shot saved from 25 yards before another debutant, wing-back Youssef Chentouf replaced Rekik on 88 minutes for his first Latics appearance and Scott Smith replaced Christ Tiehi.

The game ended goalless with both sides having to settle for a point. Rotherham will remain in the Championship for next season while Latics will drop back to League One after some disastrous off-the-field mistakes by Phoenix 2021. 


This was an emotional end to a tragic season for Latics. Chairman Talal Al Hammad and owner Abdulrahman Al Jasmi must take responsibility for the shambolic decisions which have contributed to the relegation.

Several players coming to the end of their contracts understandably decided not to play against Rotherham, and at the time of going to press (Wednesday am) they have still not been paid.

The failure to pay the players on time for a fifth occasion could lead to further action from the EFL. A possible points deduction that could be damaging for next season’s campaign.

The players, management and fans have been treated disgracefully this season and the owners must now honour their commitments or sell up.

These are extremely challenging times for Wigan Athletic and everyone associated with the club will be hoping for a speedy resolution so that the club can move forward. 

Final Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney gave special credit to all of the young Academy prospects – in addition to several senior players who commendably took the field without receiving pay.

“I thought Rotherham were slightly better than us in the first half, but in the second half, I loved how the team played,” he said.

“In the second half, I really liked our performance – I just wish we would’ve taken one of our chances and won the game for everyone. 

“During what’s been a difficult few days, there have been some big positives with the younger players. 

“Some of the younger players came on and made a big difference – (including Abdi Sharif and Chris Sze). I loved what Sam Tickle produced today.

“On top of that, what some of the senior players have done today – I’ll be forever grateful to them. 

“We had five players in that team who hadn’t been paid, so massive credit has to go to them. 

“I have to also mention that this has happened before, and we played Watford and Coventry City with senior players who weren’t here today doing the exact same.

“Let’s not forget them – they’ve been outstanding at times, and what that group of players have given me, my staff and the supporters – I’ll never forget.”

While it has undoubtedly been a tough season for everyone connected with the Football Club, one consistent theme throughout the 2022/23 campaign has been the outstanding support of the Latics faithful from the stands.

Maloney expressed his gratitude towards the supporters for their backing since he returned to the DW Stadium, describing them as a ‘credit to the Football Club’.

“It was a really positive day for them,” he said.

“They are a huge credit to the Football Club – and it’s an honour to be their Manager. It’s been an up and down three months – and they’ve been amazing for me.

“I cannot thank the fans enough, and I hear every time they sing. I want to clap them every time, but I have to concentrate on the game.

“It means the world to me, and I work extremely hard to try and make them happy. I just crave the stability of this Club for them.”

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Review – Pantomime Hero Jimmy Armfield: Memories of the man who lifted Leeds after Brian Clough by Ian Ridley

Pantomime hero is the first book in the Football Shorts series, which is a new collaboration between Pitch Publishing and Ian Ridley’s Floodlit Dreams Company.

Journalist and author Ridley provides us with some charming, nostalgic, and heart-warming stories about Jimmy Armfield the former Blackpool and England full back who became an acclaimed broadcaster.

Ridley states, “In all my time around the sport, whenever Jimmy’s name came up, I never heard a single bad word spoken about him by anyone. Some achievement in a sport of politics and personalities, intrigue, and insecurity.”

Ridley was a close friend of Armfield, and he tells us of the time when he took over as manager at Leeds United after Brian Clough’s ill-fated 44 days and came up with a unique idea to restore the morale of a club tearing itself apart.

Somewhat bizarrely to get the team back on its feet and restore morale he decided to write a pantomime for the players based around Cinderella. Surprisingly the players chucked themselves into it with enthusiasm.

Paul Reaney said, “Jimmy was a clever man. He told me when he arrived that I was the best right-back in the country and I could get back into the England side. And he told me I was going to be the best Prince Charming.”

The pantomime was a big success and Ridley writes “…it also serves the purpose of distilling the essence of Jimmy. Benign and affable, yes, but shrewd and strategic too. All carried off with aplomb and with none resenting him. He took people with him by engaging them rather than bullying them.”

Armfield restored success to Leeds on the field and took them to the European Cup Final against Bayern Munich in 1975. Unfortunately, Leeds were beaten 2-0 in Paris against a backdrop of crowd trouble. But they had been denied by some very dubious refereeing decisions.

Armfield then had to gradually dismantle the side and after three seasons he heard Leeds were looking at other managers, so he resigned.

He was then able to create a successful career in the media. His work for BBC radio was so well liked that he became something of a national treasure. Ridley describes his radio work, “He was Lowryesque in painting pictures, with his honeyed, authoritative voice his brush: by contrast, many now are merely performing the equivalent of carving initials in trees with a kitchen knife.”

In his later life Armfield struggled with cancer and he died in 2018 at the age of 82. But his legacy lives on and the impact he had on those that knew him is profound. Armfield’s beacon values of respect and decency will ever endure. This book is a fitting tribute to a wonderful man.

Pantomime Hero Jimmy Armfield: Memories of the man who lifted Leeds after Brian Clough by Ian Ridley. Published by Football Shorts. Price £9.99.

This review first appeared in the May/June 2023 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

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Latics’ season of mismanagement ends in relegation – Reading 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Charlie Hughes scored his first goal for the Tics

  • Wigan Athletic were relegated from the Championship after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Reading.
  • Latics needed a victory to keep their season alive and took the lead through defender Charlie Hughes in the 81st minute but the Royals equalised in the 93rd minute through Yakou Meite.
  • Latics have one game remaining against Rotherham but they cannot now escape the drop to League One.
  • Reading are in 22nd place with one game remaining and are dependent on other teams results if they are to survive in the Championship.
  • Overall Latics’ season can be categorised as one of mismanagement by owners Phoenix 2021 whose mistakes have been the biggest factor in the relegation.

Shaun Maloney made one change to the starting XI that had defeated Millwall with Hughes replacing Omar Rekik in defence.

Reading made a bright start to the game and quickly pushed Latics onto the defensive. 

But it was Latics who had the first chance on seven minutes when Hughes volleyed wide of the target from a good position just outside the box.

On 21 minutes Tom McIntyre had a good opportunity for the hosts but he fired high and wide from the centre of the box.

The Royals were enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the first half but they were struggling to create any clear-cut opportunities until just before half-time when Lucas Joao’s header from the centre of the box was superbly saved by Jamie Jones.

0-0 at half-time and Maloney’s men would need to improve in the second half if they were to get the victory they so desperately needed. 

The visitors started the second half with much more energy and determination with James McClean volleying over in the first minute before Josh Magennis couldn’t quite get on the end of a Max Power cross and was injured in the process.

Daniel Sinani had to replace the injured Magennis on 51 minutes.

Christ Tiehi drove forward on 52 minutes beating a couple of the Royals defenders before blazing high over the crossbar form the edge of the box.

Thelo Aasgaard replaced Tiehi on 59 minutes as Latics went forward to try to gain the advantage. 

Joao went close for the hosts on 64 minutes when his right footed shot from the centre of the box just cleared the top left corner.  

Charlie Wyke replaced Ryan Nyambe on 71 minutes as Latics went in search of the breakthrough.

Callum Lang then had a glorious chance to open the scoring when McClean’s cross found him clear in the box but the striker fired straight at Reading keeper Joe Lumley from close range.

It was end-to-end stuff now as the Royals substitute Femi Azeez volleyed narrowly wide following a corner on 77 minutes.

But on 81 minutes Latics made the breakthrough when Hughes headed home from the edge of the six-yard box following McClean’s superb deep cross. There was much jubilation amongst the travelling Tics fans.

Could Latics hold on and take the three points to prolong their season?

Reading pushed forward in search of the equaliser with the referee indicating nine added minutes.

The hosts forced a succession of corners and in the 93rd minute their pressure told. Jones looked to be impeded as he went up to collect a corner but the ball dropped to Meite who forced the ball home from close range.

Latics tried to respond but substitute Sinani’s shot from the centre of the box in the 100th minute was just too high and they now have to return to League One for next season.


This was another spirited display by Maloney’s men who have taken seven points from the last three games. This relegation has not been caused by former manager Leam Richardson or current manager Shaun Maloney but by decisions taken in the boardroom.

Latics made a good start to their Championship campaign in August/September but went through a rocky period in October/November and the owners panicked, unceremoniously sacking Leam Richardson and appointing the untried Kolo Toure in his place. The appointment of ‘big name’ Toure was an unmitigated disaster and Latics didn’t manage a win in nine games conceding 17 goals.

During this period the owners also failed to pay the players’ wages on time and this continued on five occasions resulting in a damaging three point penalty from the EFL. Morale amongst the players and staff was inevitably affected.

The appointment of Shaun Maloney was the only bright spot in an unmitigatedly depressing period in which it looked like the club might go into administration again.

However, the owners managed to sell a property in London and have started to pay the players on time promising to run the club sustainably in the future. Only time will tell if they can run the club properly, but this relegation was clearly a result of bad management and the owner Abdulrahman Al Jasmi and Chairman Talal Al Hammad must take responsibility for it.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Shaun Maloney expressed his sadness after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Reading confirmed Latics’ return to League One. 

Maloney was naturally distraught to see Latics drop back into the third tier, but he thanked his players for giving him everything both today and throughout his time to date at the DW Stadium.

“It’s hugely disappointing,” he said.

“It’s a very difficult time, and I thought the players gave me everything – as they have done in the other 17 games (during my time here).

“There were moments in the first half where we had to defend, and we knew they were going to come for us, as they had a full house.

“The way the players played in the second half was excellent, and I want to say a massive thank you to the players for what they’ve given me in the last 17 games.

“I know what it is [the table and form] compared to the rest of the league, but the reality of the task was just too big for us. Off the pitch has had an impact on us and a lot of things have happened, but I love the job here and I love the people that watch us play and the players have given me everything.”

After the full-time whistle, there was a real touching moment as the fans showed their appreciation to the travelling Tics. Chants of ‘We’re Wigan Till We Die’ echoed from the away end, and Maloney expressed that the supporters are a credit to the Football Club for the way they have conducted themselves throughout the last few years. 

“I am just devastated for our players and the people that come to watch us,” he said. 

“They are a credit to this Club – not just today, but what we’ve been through over the past few years.

“It’s a special bunch of people and I really appreciate them. I know it’s not easy travelling to watch your team up and down the country, so I’m going to dedicate my life to (hopefully) give them (some) good times.

“They know what type of person I am and I am going to give everything to make sure we never have a season like this again, on and off the pitch.”

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Latics still fighting for survival – Wigan Athletic 2 Millwall 1

Thelo Aasgaard scored his fourth goal of the season

  • Wigan Athletic kept their slender Championship survival hopes alive with a 2-1 victory against playoff hopefuls Millwall at the DW Stadium.
  • Latics went ahead after 14 minutes when Will Keane fired home after good work by Callum Lang.
  • The visitors were level when Tom Bradshaw crossed for George Saville to score from close range on the half hour.
  • Both sides had chances in the second half but Latics got a deserved winner when Lang set up substitute Thelo Aasgaard and the young Norwegian produced a calm finish to secure the vital three points.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table and are four points from safety with two games remaining. Millwall are now in seventh place.

Shaun Maloney kept the same starting XI that won 1-0 at Stoke City in midweek.

Latics started brightly and got an early breakthrough at the DW Stadium. In the 14th minute Lang’s tantalising right-sided cross was spilled by keeper George Long and Keane clinically finished for his 12th goal of the season.

This early goal boosted Latics’ confidence and they went close through Lang seven minutes later. The tireless striker chased the ball down and forced midfielder Shaun Hutchinson into a mistake. Lang drove forward into the box and his low effort was just wide of the far post.

In the visitors first serious attack they drew level on the half-hour mark when Scott Malone’s cut-back from the left was converted at the near post by Saville.

Just before half-time Millwall might’ve gone ahead when Callum Styles nearly got on the end of a dangerous cross from the right-hand side. A lucky escape for the Tics.

Latics came out forcefully at the start of the second half, with James McClean seeing his goal-bound effort blocked behind for a corner.

From the corner, Christ Tiéhi’s volley appeared to strike the hand of a Millwall defender, but the referee Bobby Madley waved away the penalty appeals.

It was end-to-end stuff now and Jamie Jones was called into action making two important saves in quick succession. First, Jones pushed Zian Flemming’s fierce effort wide, before he recovered well to deny Malone after the Millwall midfielder intercepted his throw-out.

Latics’ drove forward again and McClean’s deep cross was kept alive by Lang at the far post and he headed into the path of Magennis, but Long did just enough to smother the loose ball.

Maloney’s men continued to press forward for the all important winner and Max Power’s strike from 20 yards out was blocked before it could reach the visitors’ goal.

Maloney introduced Charlie Hughes, Aasgaard, and Ashley Fletcher in place of Omar Rekik, Tiéhi and Magennis in the 67th minute.

Substitute Aasgaard was quick to attack the Lions defence and his fierce drive was blocked behind for a corner.

Substitute Hughes then produced a superb cross into the box which was headed on by Fletcher into the path of Keane, who was unable to make proper contact and the chance was missed.

Referee Madley frustrated Latics again with 15 minutes remaining when Lang looked to be kicked as he tried to shoot but instead of awarding the penalty he signalled for a corner.

Latics finally made their pressure count in the 84th minute with Aasgaard’s crucial finish. Lang surged down the wing and crossed into the path of the young Norwegian midfielder in the centre of the box and he calmly hit his low effort into the bottom corner.

Despite six minutes of added time Latics held out to keep their Championship survival hopes alive.


This was another fighting display by Latics to back up their improved midweek performance at Stoke.

They have shown a marked improvement in the last two games, particularly in the final third. Keane has been pushed a little further forward and if Latics can improve their service to him he is always likely to get on the scoresheet.

Goalkeeper Jamie Jones has added a calmness to the defence and his distribution has generally been excellent.

The squad has responded well to Maloney’s coaching methods and if only he had been appointed instead of Kolo Toure they would probably have been safe by now.

The odds are still very much stacked against them but strange things do happen when Wigan Athletic are involved. Latics have had some great escapes in the past but this would surely be the greatest of great escapes.

They will need to win their two remaining games away at Reading and at home to Rotherham and hope that others slip up.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney was pleased with the performance – but even happier with his side’s effort levels throughout an enjoyable afternoon.

“I thought it was a brilliant performance again against a good team,” he said.

“They had one really dangerous cross which led to the goal, but it was mainly set plays where they had big chances. For us as a team, we were very good defensively and I’m starting to see us have a real attacking threat. 

“We had to leave it all out there, and I thought the performance was good – and the effort was even better.

“I loved the fighting spirit. In the last two games, we’ve won the fight, and in the next two, we’re going to have to do the same.”

The Latics supporters have backed Maloney since his arrival and the players have battled to keep their survival hopes alive.

“The players were fantastic, along with the supporters,” he smiled.

“I could sense that the fans were there when we needed them today, and they came to the fore. You can see the connection between the players and the fans.”

“We need to win the next two matches and see where it takes us. That’s where we are at.

“We can let the players and supporters enjoy today, and come Monday, we go again and we’re going to have to win the fight again.”

Ashley Fletcher was introduced in the final quarter, and despite sustaining a nasty elbow injury, he battled through the pain barriers in order to help the team see out the game.

Maloney reserved special praise for the Watford FC loan forward, as he showed an immense fighting spirit to continue when a lot of players would’ve bowed out in a similar situation.

“A big mention to Ashley Fletcher – he looks like he’s got a really bad elbow injury, but for him to get up and press the way that he did, the reason is why we didn’t give up many chances in the last few minutes and that’s because of me.

“His teammates can be very proud of what he did for them today because he was in a lot of pain and it doesn’t look like a good injury. 

“He gave us everything – and more today.”

Maloney will provide a further update on Ashley in midweek, ahead of the trip to Reading on Saturday.

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Latics are still hanging on – Stoke City 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Will Keane with the winner

  • Wigan Athletic defeated Stoke City 1-0 at the Bet365 Stadium to keep their slim Championship survival hopes alive.
  • Former Latic Nick Powell had an early chance for the hosts but decided to lay the ball off and the chance went begging.
  • Stoke struggled to gain any attacking momentum in the first half and Latics defended solidly.
  • Latics went ahead on 54 minutes when Will Keane produced a superb volleyed finish into the bottom corner.
  • Stoke huffed and puffed to little effect and Latics might have had had two further goals but Tendayi Darikwa fired narrowly wide and substitute Ashley Fletcher had an effort cleared off the line.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table and are five points from safety with three games remaining. Stoke drop to 17th place in the table.

Shaun Maloney made four changes to the line-up which lost at Blackpool with Jamie Jones, Tendayi Darikwa, Christ Tiehi, and Josh Magennis all starting. Ben Amos and Charlie Hughes were unavailable due to injuries.

Powell had a great opportunity for the hosts in the second minute when he found himself unmarked in the six-yard box but instead of shooting he laid the ball off and the chance was wasted.

In a subdued atmosphere at the Stadium neither team created many other opportunities until a James McClean cross shot in the 33rd minute was well saved by Stoke goalkeeper Jack Bonham.

Five minutes later a dangerous cross from Magennis came to McClean at the back post but he couldn’t get the ball under control and the opportunity was gone.

In added time in the first half McClean then produced an inviting cross into the six-yard box but Magennis couldn’t quite make the vital contact.

0-0 at half-time but with Latics looking increasingly more dangerous.

After an uneventful opening to the second half Latics went ahead in the 54th minute. Max Power crossed into a crowded penalty area but Keane got to the ball first and produced a superb volleyed finish into the bottom corner.

Almost immediately Stoke had a great chance to equalise as Jack Whatmough failed to clear but Tyrese Campbell missed the target from a good position in the box.

On 66 minutes Latics should’ve added to their lead when Darikwa’s right-footed strike from inside the box was inches wide of the post.

Soon afterwards the hosts had an opportunity when Morgan Fox blazed over the crossbar from a good position in the box.

Keane was withdrawn on 77 minutes and replaced by Tom Naylor and Fletcher replaced Magennis on 80 minutes as Latics looked to hang on to the three points.

There was some late Stoke pressure but the hosts were unable to create any clear-cut chances and it was Latics who should have added to their lead in the 90th minute.

Callum Lang did superbly to get to the byline and cut the ball back to Fletcher who touched it past the keeper into the path of Power, who returned it to Fletcher, but his goal bound shot was cleared off the line.

A deserved win for Latics who keep their slim survival chances alive with three games remaining. They will hope the other Championship results go their way on Wednesday night before they face Millwall at the DW Stadium on Saturday.


This was a much improved performance from the defeat at Blackpool. Latics were the better side against a strangely subdued Stoke City team and they deserved their first away victory since October.

Latics defended solidly in the first half and gradually started to assert themselves as the match progressed. Keane produced a fine finish but they could have won by further goals if Darikwa and Fletcher had converted their chances.

Jamie Jones gave a confident display between the sticks and his distribution allowed the Tics to get further up the field. Ryan Nyambe, Whatmough and Omar Rekik were much improved on recent games, but perhaps the most improved area was the attacking combination of Keane, Magennis and Lang who combined well throughout the game.

Latics survival chances are still slim, as they must win all of their remaining three games against Millwall, Reading and Rotherham and hope the others slip up.

Latics’ fans will, no doubt, be closely watching Wednesday’s Championship fixtures involving teams in the relegation battle which are: QPR v Norwich,  Watford v Cardiff and Reading v Luton. 

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Maloney was understandably upbeat and believed that his players were excellent to a man on what was an extremely successful Tuesday night for the Tics in Stoke.

It was a brilliant result and an amazing performance from the first whistle,” he said.

“I thought the players were outstanding to a man. Everyone who came on produced added energy and I thought there were some brilliant performances tonight.

“We defended very well at times and thought we were good on the ball when we had to be. I thought our forward players were outstanding too. 

“I thought to a man, everyone was outstanding and every bit of credit and praise has to go to our players.

“I think everyone should be very proud of that performance. The fans were also excellent when we needed them, and there were definitely (testing) moments when we could hear them singing. 

“I’m so glad for the players because what they gave us today was as good as anything we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

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Latics’ Championship status hanging by a thread – Blackpool 1 Wigan Athletic 0

View from the East Stand

  • Wigan Athletic succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Blackpool in the clash of the Championship’s bottom clubs at Bloomfield Road. 
  • This was another abject performance by Latics whose Championship status is now hanging by a thread. If they fail to win at Stoke on Tuesday night and other results go against them they will be relegated.
  • Blackpool were ahead after only two minutes as Omar Rekik gave the ball away and Keshi Anderson fed Jerry Yates who finished via the far post.
  • Latics had a couple of shouts for penalties but they once again lacked a cutting edge in the final third.
  • Latics are bottom of the table and are 10 points from safety with only four games remaining. Blackpool are second bottom and four points from safety.

Shaun Maloney made three changes from the defeat to Swansea with Omar Rekik, Thelo Aasgaard and Will Keane returning to the starting line-up.

It was a dreadful opening for Latics as Blackpool went ahead in the second minute. Rekik tried to find Thelo Aasgaard but Anderson stepped in and fed Yates who got in behind and finished via the far post.

Latics were enjoyed plenty of possession but without really threatening the hosts goal.

Aasgaard had an attempt from 25 yards out, but disappointingly dragged his effort wide. At the other end, Josh Bowler fired over for Pool from distance.

Callum Lang created a chance for Keane but a Blackpool defender got back to block as Latics looked for an equaliser.

As Latics tried to play out from the back, Jack Whatmough almost conceded a goal as his pass was charged down by Yates and it narrowly missed Amos’ post.

Whatmough left the field through injury soon afterwards and Ashley Fletcher replaced him in an attacking change.

Tom Naylor might’ve had a penalty on the stroke of half-time after a scramble at the back post but referee Thomas Bramall waved away Latics’ appeals.

Blackpool had an early chance in the second half as a ball from the left found Josh Bowler free inside the box, he chested down, but his shot was straight at Amos.

Ryan Nyambe then crossed from the right and found Aasgaard but he failed to make a proper contact and his effort was easily saved by Daniel Grimshaw.

Later a good cross from Fletcher found Aasgaard but his header looped onto the roof of the net.

Anderson then fired a volley wide from 30 yards before Fletcher headed a James McClean free kick wide.

Latics huffed and puffed but just weren’t convincing in the final third. Keane was withdrawn and replaced by Josh Magennis on 74 minutes, but the two pronged attack of Fletcher and Magennis was far too easily blunted.

In nine minutes of added time Latics almost managed to equalise when Power’s cross came to James McClean at the back post, but he could only hit the side netting.

Latics had an appeal for a hand ball very late on but referee Bramall once again waved away their appeals.

The match ended 1-0 to a chorus of boos from the Tics fans who understandably believe they have been badly let down by the players and the ownership this season.


It had been a mediocre match between two poor teams but Blackpool had done just enough to secure the three points which keeps their survival hopes alive. Latics had been toothless in attack and are now all but mathematically relegated.

Despite enjoying the greater possession Latics had no cutting edge which has been their biggest problem for most of the season.

Charlie Wyke has been absent due to injury and the sale of Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead hasn’t helped the cause but Latics’ other strikers goal return has been pitiful.

They are the joint lowest scorers in the Championship which goes a long way to explain why they have been relegated.

I don’t expect Ashley Fletcher or Josh Magennis to be at the club next season and Latics will need new blood if they are to make a challenge.

The players are now totally lacking in confidence and the fight has gone out of them recently. Maloney has a difficult task to rebuild the club after the disappointments of this season.

Phoenix 2021 have a lot to do to regain the trust after some damaging decisions which have contributed to the relegation.

The squad will have to be trimmed for League One, but they must try to hang on to their best players and good recruitment will be crucial.

The fans are understandably very down at the moment after a truly awful season. However, as everyone knows Latics have experienced some lows in the past but the club has managed to bounce back and there is no reason why it can’t do so again. Up the Tics! Keep the faith.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney started with a message to the travelling support inside Bloomfield Road, as well as those at home, following the defeat.

“I’ll start with an apology really, and not just for today,” he said.

“That (apology) is for a long period of time, as this season has not been at the levels that this Club should be at. I appreciate every single one of them (the fans) that come and pay to watch us.

“I said at the very beginning when I started that win, lose or draw, I will come and show my appreciation.

“I know these days are difficult, but whatever anger and unhappiness is there – that’s for me. I know what I want to see, and that wasn’t it.”

Latics were stung early on the Seaside as the hosts took the lead inside the opening two minutes. Despite seeing a lot of the ball, Maloney spoke of the frustration that they couldn’t convert that possession into chances and goals.

“I knew the game was going to start hectic and I knew how they would start,” he said.

“The reality of it is, we were still goalside of the player that scores and we don’t follow the run. It was the same against Swansea and it’s the same of many games and it’s a big issue.

“We can do all the work to improve the team. Defensively, we’re one of the better ones in the league now, but we’re so far away from being a good, attacking team.

“We have to change that – starting now into the next few weeks and then into next season. I don’t want to have 60/70% possession and not have the threat to win games.

“Today, and probably the last few weeks, is a culmination of where I see the Club, and there’s a lot of things that need to change and be rebuilt. I need to be ruthless because the levels are not what I want to see and where they should be at.”

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Latics’ great escape doesn’t materialise as they slump to defeat against Swansea – Wigan Athletic 0 Swansea City 2

Shaun Maloney got his tactics wrong

  • Wigan Athletic slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Swansea City which all but mathematically condemns them to relegation from the Championship.
  • Shaun Maloney adopted an attacking line-up with wingbacks pushed forward and this backfired as Swansea took control in the first half.
  • Joel Piroe opening the scoring in the 14th minute and the prolific Dutchman added a second in the 34th minute.
  • The visitors might have been out of sight by half-time, but Piroe’s volley thumped against the post.
  • Latics rallied a little in the second half but the damage had already been done and the hosts now look destined for a quick return to League One.
  • Latics remain bottom and are eight points from safety with five games remaining. Swansea are in now in 14th place.

Shaun Maloney made two changes from their trip to Sheffield United, with Ryan Nyambe and Tom Naylor coming into the starting line-up in place of Omar Rekik and Thelo Aasgaard.

Latics had an early opportunity when Naylor volleyed through a crowd full of bodies to force Andrew Fisher into making a good save down to his right.

James McClean then went close in the fifth minute with a low drive which was cleared off the line by Swans defender Nathan Wood.

The visitors responded and Piroe fired wide from 18 yards out following a pass from former Latic loanee Jay Fulton.

Latics looked very open defensively and Piroe opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Paterson’s left-sided effort deflected into his path, and he finished into the bottom corner from close range.

Latics tried to get back in the game and they nearly forced an equaliser in the 22nd minute through two chances in quick succession.

First, McClean’s corner was parried into Naylor’s path, who saw his close-range effort blocked by a last-ditch challenge from Latibeaudiere.

From the resulting short corner, Max Power’s inviting cross was headed straight at Fisher by Ashley Fletcher.

Just when it looked like the hosts’ might equalise the Swans hit them on the break in the 35th minute.

The Swans attacked down the left and crossed to the right with Ryan Nyambe left exposed, striker Piroe curled a low strike into the far corner.

The Swans almost added a third before the interval when Joe Allen headed over from a wide free-kick, and Piroe volleyed against the woodwork.

Maloney made a double change early in the second half with Thelo Aasgaard and Josh Magennis replacing Tiehi and Fletcher.

Jack Whatmough created an opportunity for Latics when he won the ball high up to start a counter-attack, and set it up for Magennis to strike from the edge of the area, but the striker disappointingly dragged his effort wide of the post.

Will Keane was finally introduced as a 65th-minute substitute for Charlie Hughes, and he almost gave Latics a lifeline seven minutes later when he got on the end of Power’s early ball from the right, but his first-time effort cleared the crossbar.

Latics tried to get back in the game and they came closest in the 77th minute when Aasgaard’s curling strike was tipped over the crossbar by Fisher.

This was the nearest Latics came and the Swans comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to seal the three points.

Realistically all Latics now have to play for is who finishes bottom of the table when they travel for Blackpool on Saturday.


This was abject performance by Latics given the importance of the game. They needed to give it their best shot but they looked like a team who had already given up the ghost.

Maloney had attempted to adopt a more attacking formation but it had backfired. Wingbacks Tendayi Darikwa and McClean had been pushed further forward but this only meant the flanks were exposed and Swansea were able to make the most of their opportunities.

Russell Martin’s team are comfortable on the ball and they were soon able to exploit the Tics vulnerabilities.

Will Keane has been out of form recently but he is still Latics best goal threat and Maloney missed a trick by not selecting him. Ashley Fletcher is a big target man but he has consistently been ineffective with only two goals all season. Callum Lang has only one goal all season and he has failed to live up to his promise in the Championship.

Latics inadequacies on the pitch have been exacerbated by the off-the-field mistakes. Sacking Leam Richardson, appointing Kolo Toure, poor recruitment and mismanagement of the budget have all contributed to the relegation. 

Maloney now needs to re-instil a winning mentality in the players – changes will take place in the summer but the club still have a nucleus of quality for next season.

There needs to be some strategic additions with an injection of youth but the club is capable of bouncing back if managed properly. The coaching staff still have much to learn and the ownership group will need to regain the trust of the fans after such a damaging season.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney took full responsibility for the defeat and expressed that they have plenty of work to do both on and off the field in order to improve in the coming weeks. 

“It was tough,” he said.

“To get beat at home is not something that I never want, but the opponents were very good and kept the possession well. 

“I wanted us to be really aggressive, and we were unbeaten at home coming into the game. I don’t want us to defend for 90 minutes in this Stadium.

“Everything that I asked them (the players) to do – they did – and they had to defend in big areas (at times) so I will take responsibility for that result. It shows that we have a lot of work to do on the pitch and a lot of work off it. 

“If you let Swansea have the ball, you won’t see it, so we had to be very aggressive to try and stop them playing.  

“When we didn’t get it right, they hurt and punished us. This result is on me, as I asked the players to be very aggressive.

“The players have been fantastic for 12 games, and have given me everything, and did everything that I asked them to do.

“It was one of those days where the opponent was better than us. It shows how much work we have to do at this Club to never feel like this again.”

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Blades promotion push deepens Latics’ woes – Sheffield United 1 Wigan Athletic 0 

View from the away end

  • Latics were narrowly defeated 1-0 by promotion-chasing Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
  • The hosts were dominant for long periods and went ahead after only eight minutes when Iliman Ndiaye tapped home at the back post.
  • Despite the early set-back Latics defended resolutely and tried to hit the Blades on the break.
  • The Blades wasted some good chances and Latics keeper Ben Amos pulled off some spectacular saves.
  • Latics could’ve grabbed an unlikely point when Thelo Aasgaard’s header forced an excellent save from Wes Foderingham but although the Blades had further chances the match ended 1-0.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table and eight points from safety with only six games remaining. The Blades are in second place and eight points clear of third-placed Luton.

Shaun Maloney made just one change to his starting line-up as Thelo Aasgaard came in for the injured Daniel Sinani.

It was the hosts with the first effort at goal from a well worked corner routine but Manchester City loanee Tommy Doyle fired over from the edge of the box.

The Blades went ahead on eight minutes as another City loanee James McAtee crossed to the back post where Ndiaye was able to tap home.

The FA Cup semi-finalists pressed for a quick second but Ben Amos came to Latics’ rescue as he superbly tipped over Billy Sharp’s close range effort.

Latics tried to respond when Callum Lang played a neat one-two with Ashley Fletcher, but Lang’s cut- back evaded Fletcher in the box.

At the other end Tendayi Darikwa denied McAtee with a last ditch tackle to prevent another goal.

James McClean then saved Latics as Ndiaye was played through, and cut inside, but McClean got his body in the way of the ball on the line to thwart the hosts.

Early in the second half Amos produced another spectacular save as he once again denied Sharp from point blank range.

McAtee then fired inches wide from the edge of the box after some neat build up play from the Blades.

The Tics might’ve produced an unlikely equaliser on the hour mark as first substitute Tom Naylor’s effort was blocked before McClean’s cross to the back post was met by Aasgaard, but his header was superbly tipped over by Foderingham.

Latics were starting to threaten and Lang headed wide at a corner and Jack Robinson needed to make a great challenge to deny him later. Substitute Josh Magennis headed over the crossbar from a good position.

The equaliser now seemed a distinct possibility as Magennis was involved again a minute later as he looked to get on the end of a Lang cross, but he couldn’t stretch enough to make a good contact.

But the Blades were always a threat and the powerful Sander Berge fired over from 25 yards.

Despite their best efforts Latics just couldn’t do enough to grab an equaliser against a team who will no doubt be playing in the Premier League next season.

Latics face Swansea City on Easter Monday at the DW Stadium in what is a now a must win fixture.


This had been a dominant display by an upwardly mobile Sheffield United but even so Latics still created enough chances to snatch a draw. With better finishing they might have come away with an unlikely point.

Latics are now eight points from safety with an inferior goal difference. With Huddersfield, Cardiff and Rotherham all winning Latics chances of Championship survival are looking slim.

Maloney’s men will need to show a marked improvement in the final third if they are to escape the drop but optimists like me think they are capable of defeating Swansea and Blackpool and still be in with a chance of survival.

But it is now crunch time and only a run of victories can save the club from relegation back to League One.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Shaun Maloney felt that his side recovered well after Ndiaye’s eighth-minute strike, though they unfortunately could not capitalise on the key opportunities that fell their way at Bramall Lane.

“I was disappointed with the result, especially with the way that the second half went,” he said.

“I spoke before the game about how clinical we are when attacking their box was going to determine the game.

“We had a difficult first 10 minutes when we conceded, and then after that, I thought we were very good in the first half and tried to control the game.

“They have a good strong squad, and we came here to win the game but our levels were just slightly down in the attacking third and for me, that was the difference in the game. 

“We had to ride our luck at times, but we had to try and win the game. We knew we’d create chances, and we did in the second half, but the difference was they took theirs and we didn’t take ours.”

While Latics’ brave effort went unrewarded at Bramall Lane, they will have an immediate opportunity to return to winning ways when they host Swansea City on Monday afternoon.

Maloney expressed the importance of regrouping and responding in the right way when the Swans visit the DW Stadium.

“The results have gone against us today, but we can’t control that, so we go again Monday and prepare to win the game again.”

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Latics are still alive and kicking – Wigan Athletic 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Max Power confidently converted the spot-kick

  • Wigan Athletic gave themselves a Championship lifeline when they recorded their first win in nine games with a 1-0 victory against Queens Park Rangers at the DW Stadium.
  • The hosts were ahead after only six minutes when former Latic Leon Balogun brought down Daniel Sinani in the box and Max Power confidently converted the spot-kick.
  • Latics keeper Ben Amos did well to deny Kenneth Paal in injury time but Latics deserved the three points and Rangers have now been dragged into the relegation dogfight.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table after a three point deduction from the EFL and they are effectively six points from safety due to their inferior goal difference. Rangers are in 19th place and are two points above the drop zone.

Shaun Maloney made four changes from the draw at Watford with Jack Whatmough, Omar Rekik, Callum Lang and Ashley Fletcher all coming into the starting line-up in place of Ryan Nyambe, Steven Caulker, Tom Naylor, and Will Keane.

It was a bright start by Latics and they were ahead after only six minutes. Sinani drove forward into the right hand channel and was brought down by Balogun after he went into the box.

Power took the spot-kick in the absence of usual penalty taker Keane, and he made no mistake with the penalty, powering the ball into top corner for his first-ever goal in the Championship.

The visitors tried to respond when Ethan Laird pulled the ball back to Chris Willock from the right-hand side, but Ben Amos was on hand to gather the effort at the second attempt.

Willock crossed for Chris Martin soon afterwards but the striker’s looping header went over the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick.

Following a period of Rangers pressure, Latics started to regain the ascendancy.

First, Power had a free-kick from the left of the penalty area saved by goalkeeper Seny Dieng, before Tendayi Darikwa headed over the crossbar after Fletcher set up the chance.

Sinani went down with an injury on the half hour mark and was replaced by Thelo Aasgaard. But the hosts continued to press forward and they went close when Lang’s deflected cross had to be superbly pushed away by Dieng.

Rangers manager Gareth Ainsworth made an attacking change at half-time with Ilias Chair replacing defender Jimmy Dunne. The Moroccan international almost immediately had an impact when he set up Martin who was denied by a close range Amos save.

The dangerous Chair threatened again soon afterwards when his free-kick was tipped away by Amos at full stretch for a corner.

Latics held firm despite Rangers attempts to get back into the game.

Tom Naylor was introduced in the 65th minute to strengthen the midfield after Lang was withdrawn.

It was a tense final period as both teams were desperate for the vital three points.

With five minutes remaining Fletcher was almost played through by Naylor, but Dieng recognised the danger early and kicked the ball into touch.

In six minutes of added time there were chances at both ends. First, Amos came to Latics’ rescue when he produced a superb finger-tip save to deny Paal’s dipping effort.

At the other end, James McClean nearly added to Latics lead when his low effort was parried wide by Dieng, after a quick counter-attack.

There was huge relief for Latics players and fans at full-time as they had secured a rare victory in their fight for Championship survival.

The next tests come quickly with Sheffield United away on Easter Friday, and Swansea City at home on Easter Monday.


This was a crucial result for Maloney’s men in their battle for Championship survival.

It was probably a good time to play QPR who are on a poor run of form having lost five of their last six games under manager Ainsworth.

But Latics have also endured a traumatic few weeks following the late payment of wages and the EFL three point deduction.

It is great credit to the manager and players that despite these off-the-pitch dramas they have been able to fight hard to retain their championship status.

It’s going to be a tall order to survive as they are five points from safety with seven games remaining but Maloney’s men are very much alive and kicking.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking to the media afterwards, Maloney came away from the game with a real feeling of pride after his team gave everything to claim all three points and gain ground on their immediate Championship rivals.

“It’s a very important three points,” he said.

“It’s a brilliant feeling to be standing here after winning the game. I thought we were very good in the first half, and if anything, we could’ve been even more creative with the possession that we had.

“In the second half, I thought we defended brilliantly. We could’ve kept the ball longer and been better on the ball.

“QPR changed tactically at half-time and went really aggressive, putting attacking players on. I thought our mentality was very good, and (while) we had to defend for periods of time, I thought we didn’t give up many chances.”

The important victory – coincided with results elsewhere – meant that Latics moved to within five points of safety, with seven games still to be played between now and the end of the season.

Maloney expressed that while people may have written off Wigan Athletic following the enforced points deduction, they are still alive, and well up for the fight to keep the Football Club in the Championship.

“It feels like a big day today,” he said.

“We know, with the points deduction, it has made it very hard for us.

“I know everyone outside our Club feels like it’s almost impossible, but we’re still alive and there’s still life in us. We’ll go right to the death. 

“It’s the same with every game. We will prepare to win the game, and the difference will be between both boxes. 

“Today in both boxes, I thought we were excellent and it’s back to work tomorrow. Today was definitely a step forward.”

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Proud Latics battle for a point – Watford 1 Wigan Athletic 1

James McClean equalised with a superb header
  • After another difficult week off the pitch Wigan Athletic battled to a deserved point with a 1-1 draw at playoff chasing Watford.
  • Latics tried to contain the hosts in the first half but they went behind just before half-time when Keinan Davis fired home.
  • Shaun Maloney introduced substitute Callum Lang at half-time and the visitors changed to a more attacking formation.
  • Latics stunned the hosts with an equaliser on 51 minutes when Lang crossed for James McClean to produce a superb header from the edge of the area into the top corner.
  • The hosts Imran Louza hit the post with a 25-yard effort and forced a good save from Amos and at the other end Max Power and Lang had opportunities for Latics but the score remained level.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table and are effectively six points from safety due to an inferior goal difference. Watford remain tenth and are five points from the playoffs.

Maloney made one change from the starting XI against Coventry City in midweek – with Tom Naylor coming into the starting line-up to replace Ashley Fletcher, who was ineligible for the game against his parent club.

After a tentative opening the first real opportunity fell the way of the hosts as a long ball from Daniel Bachmann was misjudged by Ryan Nyambe and Joao Pedro was through on goal. But although the Watford striker rounded Ben Amos he could only find the side netting with his effort.

As Latics adopted a defensive approach the hosts took control and matters were made more difficult for Latics with Charlie Hughes replaced due to an injury after only 12 minutes.

Leandro Bacuna hit a volley wide for the hosts as Latics had to defend deep. Ken Sema then fired a drilled effort across Latics’ six-yard box, but nobody was on hand to make the vital contact for the hosts.

A Jeremy Ngakia strike from 20-yards out flew wide of Amos’ right-hand post. The pressure continued and Louza was the next to try his luck but he pulled his effort wide of the target.

Danel Sinani had a rare effort for the visitors on 43 minutes when his 25 yard strike flew wide.

The Watford pressure finally told when Davis struck in the 45th minute. The striker turned inside in the Latics penalty area, and curled an effort past Amos to hand the hosts the lead at the break.

Maloney changed to a more attacking formation and Lang replaced Steven Caulker at half-time.

Lang looked lively on the right-hand side, and Latics were now posing a threat.

Latics deservedly drew level 51 minutes with McClean producing a superb header from the edge of the box.

Lang crossed the ball from the left-hand side, and the Republic of Ireland international powerfully headed into the top corner to stun the hosts.

Watford responded and soon came close twice through Louza. First, a low effort was well saved by Amos to his left-hand side, before the Moroccan midfielder hit the post from 30 yards with an excellent strike.

At the other end Latics threatened when the ball almost fell for Sinani inside the area but a last-ditch block denied the Norwich loanee’s effort heading goalwards.

Lang was then inches away from being through as a Sinani’s ball found him in space but he couldn’t get it under control and it was cleared.

Substitute Josh Magennis then played a through ball to Lang who managed to get his shot away, but Bachmann saved low down.

Ultimately neither side could gain the upper hand and Latics players could be proud that they had deservedly picked up an away point despite not having been paid.


It’s been another difficult week for everyone at Wigan Athletic but Maloney’s men responded superbly to the challenge at Watford.

The players could have refused to play after the owners once again failed to pay their wages but they showed their character and commitment to the fans by performing to the best of their abilities at Vicarage Road.

Latics are struggling with defensive injuries and they could easily have crumbled when Charlie Hughes went off injured but they battled back to get a deserved draw.

Due to the owners actions the club are now facing a points deduction from the EFL which will probably relegate them to League One.

Mr Al Jasmi and Chairman Talal Al Hammad should be ashamed of their recent behaviour after promising to be good custodians of the club.

Chief Executive Mal Brannigan and Shaun Maloney are flying out to Bahrain to have emergency talks with the owners.

They must give reassurances about the payment of wages and the future financial stability of the organisation.

However, if the Bahraini’s no longer have the resources they should put the club up for sale. New owners will hardly be queuing up to take over but the current chaotic situation cannot be allowed to continue.

Post match comments

Maloney speaking after the game said:

“I thought they were brilliant second half against a good Watford team. They had really big threats but I thought we were brilliant.

“I thought we were Ok first half, but we could have been better. It was a real poor goal to lose from our own goal kick, but second half we were very good. The substitutes who came on made a difference and if we were more ruthless in the second half we could have won that game.

“What you saw in the second half was a team who went toe to toe with Watford. This team has to start believing that when we are at our very best we can be a very difficult team to beat and a good team.

“Second half we made a tactical change and I thought we were excellent. To a man I thought they were outstanding today. I was disappointed not to win the game as well given the chances we created.”

On the fans and the difference they made yet again, Maloney added: “The last 24 hours has been very hard again, he continued.

“There has been a definite change in the atmosphere which is understandable given the uncertainty. I was concerned how resilient we would be if we went behind, but they answered everything.

“The fans were amazing and they have now got a team that give them absolutely everything. I hope they are happy with that performances and I want to give the players the credit they deserve today.”

Maloney’s players are still waiting for payment of their wages and Maloney admitted that “clarity” is a must when he joins CEO Mal Brannigan in Bahrain this weekend.

“I understand the magnitude of the situation and I think it is a necessity we get clarity for the supporters, for the players and staff on what the short term looks like and obviously what we are looking at the long term too.

“When I have that I can stand in front of the camera again, but today I want to speak about my players because they gave me everything. We have to be very pleased and proud of what they gave us.”

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