Grigg strikes to save Latics’ blushes – Wigan Athletic 3 AFC Fylde 2


Will Grigg

Two late goals by substitute Will Grigg saved Latics from an embarrassing home defeat to non-league AFC Fylde in the FA Cup 2nd Round Replay at the DW Stadium last night.

Latics had led through Ivan Toney after good work by Callum Elder but the National League side deservedly went 2-1 ahead through Simon Grand and Danny Rowe.

With only ten minutes of normal time remaining Grigg equalised from Gary Roberts’ cross and then four minutes later he diverted the ball past Jay Lynch for the winner.

Latics had produced a below par performance and luckily went through to face Premier League AFC Bournemouth in the 3rd round. Fylde deserve much credit for producing such a gutsy display and if it was not for Grigg’s finishing they would have caused an upset.

Manager Paul Cook made eight changes from the starting line up which had defeated Fleetwood Town last Saturday with only Dan Burn, Nathan Byrne and Ryan Colclough retaining their places.

Latics looked ill at ease throughout the first half and it was something of a surprise when they went ahead on 31 minutes.

Ivan Toney converting Callum Elder’s excellent low cross at the back post.

But it was not long before the Coasters were level as Latics failed to clear a corner and Simon Grand fired past Matija Sarkic from close range.

Latics looked disjointed and lacked creativity throughout despite having some experienced players on the pitch.

Fylde were probably surprised by Latics’ lack of a cutting edge and they were growing in confidence as the game progressed.

They deservedly went ahead on 65 minutes when Rowe’s deflected strike from the edge of the box looped over Sarkic.

Rowe and Jonny Smith both had opportunities to extend the lead for the visitors, but Sarkic managed to save their efforts.

It was starting to look desperate for Latics until substitute Grigg struck to draw them level on 80 minutes.

The Northern Irishman fired home from the angle of the six yard box after being played through by Roberts.

The match looked likely to be heading for extra time but with 84 minutes on the clock Grigg diverted the ball past Lynch to make it 3-2.

But the drama was still not over and Fylde might have levelled in added time when keeper Sarkic inexplicably held on to the ball for far too long and conceded an indirect free kick in the penalty area.

The Coasters captain Finley tapped the free kick to Rowe and the striker’s low shot flicked off the defensive wall and flew narrowly wide of the target – a big let-off and symptomatic of Latics’ poor performance on the night.



Posted in AFC Fylde, Danny Rowe, FA Cup, Ivan Toney, Simon Grand, Wigan Athletic, Will Grigg | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics strengthen their position at the top – Wigan Athletic 2 Fleetwood Town 0


Dan Burn scored his second goal of the season

Wigan Athletic increased their lead to four points at the top of the League One table with a comfortable 2-0 victory against Fleetwood Town at the DW Stadium.

Latics hardly needed to get out of second gear to overcome a mediocre Fleetwood and were ahead after only seven minutes when Nick Powell headed home Lee Evans’ left wing cross.

It was mainly one way traffic and Latics doubled their lead on 38 minutes when centre back Dan Burn steered another Evans cross, this time from the right, into the top corner.

Former manager Uwe Rösler’s Fleetwood rarely tested returning keeper Christian Walton although they did hit the crossbar with a Ashley Eastham header.

In a disappointing second half Latics somehow failed to increase their lead despite dominating possession and creating some good chances.

But with six games coming up in the next 21 days starting against AFC Fylde in the FA Cup, Latics will be pleased to have got the three points in the bag and have increased their advantage over second placed Shrewsbury.

Manager Cook made three changes from the team which drew at AFC Fylde with on-loan keeper Christian Walton, Ryan Colclough and Powell coming into the starting line-up.

Latics were quickly in control with Powell heading home Lee Evans’ excellent cross from the left after only seven minutes.

Ashley Eastham headed onto the top of the crossbar following a corner for the visitors but it was Latics in the ascendancy with Michael Jacobs and Reece James both having efforts well blocked.

Latics were camped in the Fleetwood half but were unable to make their dominance count until on 38 minutes another Evans cross found Dan Burn in the box and the big centre half made no mistake with his header from six yards out.

Devante Cole had a rare effort towards goal at the beginning of the second half for the visitors but it was still Latics who looked more likely to add to their lead.

Powell might have done better with his effort from the edge of the box but his shot went narrowly wide of the target.

In what proved to be a fairly insipid second period Latics were lacking a cutting edge and Paul Cook brought Max Power and Gavin Massey on to replace Will Grigg and Ryan Colclough.

Power soon had his low drive pushed away by Alex Cairns but Powell was unable to capitalise on the rebound.

Ivan Toney replaced Powell on 78 minutes and the substitute had a good opportunity in added time to increase the margin of victory, but his drive was saved by Cairns legs and the score remained at 2-0.

Posted in Dan Burn, Fleetwood Town, League One, Nick Powell, Paul Cook, Uwe Rösler, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art of Football Christmas Competition

Heart & Soul T

Fancy getting your hands on an Art of Football t-shirt just in time for Christmas? To enter simply answer the following question. Who scored the winning goal in the 2013 FA Cup Final? Email the answer to:

The deadline for competition entries is 14th December 2017 at 5pm and the winner will be notified via email soon afterwards.

Have a look at Art of Football’s range of t-shirts and prints here. They all come gift wrapped making them perfect for Christmas.

Let’s Hang On readers can get a discount on all Art of Football products using this link:

Get 15% off using the code: WAFC.

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12th Man – Rösler revolution was so nearly a success

Uwe Rösler

Uwe Rösler during his time as manager of Viking

Latics face former manager Uwe Rösler’s Fleetwood Town tomorrow at the DW Stadium. Rösler’s team have had an indifferent start to this campaign and are in 11th position in the table but they are still hoping to be amongst the challengers at the end of the season as they are only eight points off a top six spot.

Rösler did very well last season taking the Cod Army into the play-offs but they narrowly lost out in the semi-final to Bradford City.

The former Manchester City and East German international striker has led something of a nomadic lifestyle, managing in Norway with Lillestrom, Viking and Molde before coming to England with Brentford, Latics, Leeds United and Fleetwood.

Rösler has had good times at Brentford and Fleetwood but the nearest he has come to full-blown success was during his time with Latics.

When taking over from Owen Coyle he made an impressive start to his managerial rein and immediately improved results. He transformed the club by improving fitness levels, tactics, organisation, team selections and team spirit.

He introduced a high tempo pressing game similar to the successful German teams like Borussia Dortmund. His football philosophy was comparable to his famous countrymen Jürgen Klopp and Joachim Löw, with the emphasis on quick transition, and based on quick counter attack.

Rösler’s team had a brilliant season and could have won a second FA Cup and been promoted to the Premier League if circumstances had worked out slightly differently. He masterminded a superb FA Cup quarter-final victory at Manchester City.

As at Wembley in 2013 they outplayed the massive favourites in what was probably the biggest double giant-killing in FA Cup history. The manager had prepared his men to perfection and they deservedly progressed to the semi-final.

In the semi-final against Arsenal they were agonisingly just eight minutes away from reaching a second consecutive FA Cup final, but they ultimately succumbed 4-2 in a penalty shoot out. Latics choice of penalty takers on the day was strange, with some players unfamiliar with the art of the spot kick, and no doubt in retrospect Rösler would have chosen differently.

In the Championship Latics finished fifth and qualified for the play-offs. In the play-off against Queens Park Rangers they might have won it after taking the lead through James Perch, but Rangers equalised from the penalty spot through Charlie Austin and went on to the play-off final with Austin’s 20th goal of the season in extra time.

Latics played more games than any other English team that season and fell just short of creating some special football history. Injuries to key players and a poor start to the campaign meant Latics were always playing catch up.

If Rösler had been in post prior to the start of the season it is likely that they would have been promoted. A repeat FA Cup success and promotion via the play-offs would have been a unique achievement.

It all turned sour for Rösler at the beginning of the 2014/15 season when he was sacked in November and replaced by the disastrous Malkay Mackay. However, the overriding impression was that he had the potential to become a top manager who could have been successful with Latics for many years to come.

This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 8th December 2017.

Posted in Arsenal, Championship, FA Cup, Fleetwood Town, League One, Manchester City, QPR, Uwe Rösler, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Latics frustrated by failure to take chances – AFC Fylde 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Fylde Evans

Lee Evans blazes over from close range

League One leaders Wigan Athletic were surprisingly held by National League AFC Fylde in last night’s FA Cup 2nd Round tie.

Latics controlled possession and went ahead just before half time when Will Grigg glanced home Nathan Byrne’s fine right wing cross.

The vistiors dominated proceedings and should have been out of sight by half time, but on 70 minutes Fylde drew level after Byrne recklessly fouled Sam Finley and the National League’s leading goal scorer Danny Rowe converted the penalty kick.

Latics had further chances to win it, but credit should be given to Fylde who battled well throughout and held out for the draw. Both teams will now go into the third round draw and face a replay at the DW Stadium.

Paul Cook made two changes from the team which won at Rotherham with Dan Burn and Gavin Massey replacing Alex Bruce and Ryan Colclough.

Latics were on top from the kick off and should have gone ahead after five minutes when Massey fired narrowly wide of the target after a neat one-two with Grigg on the edge of the area.

The home team were struggling to get a foothold in the game as Latics passed the ball around with confidence with captain Sam Morsy dominant in the centre.

Grigg nearly got on the score sheet when Byrne’s right wing cross found him in a good position but the striker’s header went via a defender’s head and hit the angle of post and crossbar.

Latics’ best chance came on 40 minutes when Lee Evans blazed over the crossbar from close range following Max Power’s cross.

The Coaster’s looked like they would hold out until half time but a minute before the interval Byrne swung in a superb cross from the right and Grigg got in front of his marker to glance home.

It appeared that Latics would go on to win comfortably but Fylde continued to offer strong resistance in the second period.

Chances came and went for Latics. Max Power mis-kicked when unmarked inside the area after a good cutback from Reece James.

Power deceived the Fylde defence by playing a free kick sideways to Michael Jacobs who forced a full length save from Jay Lynch.

Before Massey forced another good save from Lynch at close range as the visitors continued to press.

But against the run of play Latics conceded a penalty,  Jones made a good save but the ball came out to Sam Finley and Byrne slide in recklessly to bring him down.

The prolific Rowe converted the spot kick, sending Jamie Jones the wrong way, for an incredible 60th goal in 63 matches.

The Coaster’s now relished the prospect of a major cup shock but it was Latics who came closest to clinching the winner when substitute Nick Powell headed wide from a Power free kick.

Latics had been the dominant team throughout with 70% possession and 32 shots but their failure to be clinical in front of goal proved costly and Fylde lived to fight another day.

Manager Paul Cook was disappointed with the result but was spot on with his assessment after the game.

“The whole day has been a credit to AFC Fylde. The facilities here at of the highest standard and their lads gave every little bit.

It’s their night tonight and they should enjoy the moment of glory.

Of course we’re disappointed, but we get another chance back at the DW Stadium and it’s up to us to take it.

For Fylde and their players and supporters tonight is what the FA Cup is all about. We’ve been there ourselves so we know exactly how it feels.

It was a good game of football and we had tremendous support from our fans, so we’re disappointed for them the most.”

Posted in AFC Fylde, Danny Rowe, FA Cup, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic, Will Grigg | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

12th Man – Fylde in focus


AFC Fylde’s Mill Farm Stadium

Latics will be in the FA Cup spotlight tonight as they come up against non-league AFC Fylde in front of the BBC TV cameras. Most neutrals will be hoping for a shock result as the 2013 winners will be regarded as a massive scalp for a club who were only formed in the 2008/09 season after they changed their name from Kirkham and Wesham.

AFC Fylde have made swift progress from the North West Counties League and are currently 16th in the National League after making six quick promotions.

Wealthy businessman David Haythornthwaite, who has twice tried to buy Blackpool, has bankrolled the club during this period. Many fans of other non-league clubs are inevitably envious of Fylde’s resources and regard them as wealthy upstarts.

Haythornthwaite confidently stated his intention to achieve league status by 2022 – Fylde have had this printed on their shirts – but the club is way ahead of that schedule as they are now just one promotion away from the Football League.

The Coasters are in very good form having won six of their last seven games in all competitions. The current manager is former Tranmere Rovers defender Dave Challinor, who has achieved a remarkable three promotions in his four years in charge.

Latics will have to contend with the National League’s leading goalscorer Danny Rowe who has so far netted 11 times this season.

They have an impressive purpose-built 6,000 capacity Mill Farm Stadium and this week they installed a protective tent over the pitch and produced a high-drama promotional video.

It looks as though no stone will be left unturned in an attempt to reach the third round. They are determined to put on a show, so Latics will have to be at their best if they are to avoid an upset.

Paul Cook will certainly not want to be on the end of an FA Cup shock. During Paul Jewell’s tenure as manager, they infamously went out to non-league Canvey Island in the first round in 2001.

Latics were having a difficult time in the Second Division at the time and their cause wasn’t helped when they had Tony Dinning sent off shortly before half-time and with nine minutes left when Lee Ashcroft saw red for a second bookable offence.

The Essex Islanders subsequently scored the winner in the 88th minute as Latics crashed out of the cup.

A more encouraging omen for Latics against non-league opposition was when they overcame Macclesfield Town with a Jordi Gomez penalty to reach the fifth round and subsequently went on to lift the famous trophy in 2013.

Cook is a big fan of the FA Cup and I expect him to field a strong side in front of the TV cameras. The team is in a good vein of form and there is no reason to tamper too much with the successful formula.

He has expressed his desire to do well in the competition and he will be well aware of the positive benefits it can have on the club’s upward momentum.

This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 1st December 2017.

Posted in AFC Fylde, Dave Challinor, David Haythornthwaite, FA Cup, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top of the table Latics in fine form – Rotherham United 1 Wigan Athletic 3


Latics on the attack

Latics moved to the top of the League One table with a convincing victory at mid-table Rotherham United.

Will Grigg gave Latics an early lead when he headed home Lee Evans’ left wing free kick but the Millers quickly drew level when David Ball curled his shot from the edge of the area past Jamie Jones and into the top corner.

Latics’ incessant pressure resulted in them regaining the lead on 28 minutes when Alex Bruce produced a clever flicked finish to beat the best efforts of keeper Marek Rodak.

Michael Jacobs effectively sealed the points with a venomous low drive on 60 minutes, after Rodak had done well to deny Grigg.

Latics had plenty of opportunities to add to the margin of victory but they settled for 3-1 and top spot in the table after Shrewsbury lost at home to Bradford.

Latics had to go into the game without important players Nick Powell (injured) and Dan Burn (suspended). Bruce replacing Burn in the centre of defence.

The visitors were on top from the outset with Grigg going close with a header from Max Power’s cross.

They went ahead on 14 minutes when Grigg scored his fourth goal of the season with a glancing header following Evans’ free kick.

Latics were almost immediately caught napping as the Millers hit a quick equaliser. David Ball was allowed too much space on the edge of the area and the former Fleetwood striker curled the ball into the top right hand corner.

But Latics were soon back on top and pressing to regain the lead. They were peppering the Millers area and it looked only a matter of time before they would score.

Chey Dunkley was denied at close range by Rodak and then the keeper turned a powerful effort by Ryan Colclough away for a corner.

From the corner Evans’ header was denied on the line, but Bruce who, with his back to goal, first controlled the ball and then flicked the ball with the outside of his boot past the despairing fingertips of Rodak and in off the post.

The game now became very physical with some robust challenges by the Rotherham players and in particular the big striker Kieffer Moore who used his arms to gain advantage.

Dunkley suffered after a clash with Moore and had to leave the pitch for stitches while the Millers player just had to change his blood stained shirt. Latics had to play with ten men for over ten minutes while Dunkley received treatment but the home team were unable to capitalise on the man advantage.

The Millers had Richard Wood and Michael Ihiekwe booked as matters nearly got out of hand with both sets of players squaring up to each other on a couple of occasions.

Rotherham had Richie Towell booked early in the second half for a late challenge on Nathan Byrne and Joe Mattock might have given a penalty away when he pushed  Colclough in the box.

Latics were in the ascendancy and playing the better football but Rotherham did occasionally threaten through their route one ball up to the big striker Moore.

When they did threaten, Dunkley was a rock at the heart of the Latics defence and the big defender had one of his best games since joining the club.

Latics effectively sealed the three points on the hour mark through Jacobs. Grigg initially broke clear in the box and tried to round Rodak, the keeper did well to push the ball away but only into the path of Max Power who back heeled the ball to Jacobs who finished with a powerful low drive past Rodak.

As the match moved towards its conclusion substitute Ivan Toney nearly added a fourth goal but his near post header just found the side netting.

It was another convincing performance by Paul Cook’s high-flying team and perhaps now some of their critical fans will give Cook and his team the full credit they undoubtedly deserve.

Posted in Alex Bruce, David Ball, League One, Michael Jacobs, Paul Cook, Rotherham United, Wigan Athletic, Will Grigg | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment