Refereeing mistake costs Wigan Athletic their Championship status – Wigan Athletic 1 Fulham 1

Wigan Athletic team

Latics were denied the victory they deserved against Fulham and which would have kept them in the Championship by a refereeing mistake.

Latics were leading 1-0 thanks to Kieffer Moore’s headed goal on 32 minutes when referee John Brooks mistakenly awarded Fulham a free kick on the edge of the area on 48 minutes after Joe Williams challenged Joe Bryan for the ball.

Neeskens Kabano drew the promotion-chasing visitors level from the resulting free kick. Raw justice for Latics who had almost overcome the farcical 12 point deduction imposed by the EFL.

Both teams had chances in the second half but it was to be referee Brooks’ error which had ultimately condemned Latics to relegation rather than the visitors exertions.

The other teams in the relegation struggle had mixed fortunes with Luton Town defeating Blackburn Rovers 3-2 and Charlton Athletic losing 4-0 at Leeds. Hull City lost 3-0 to Cardiff City but Barnsley won 2-1 at Brentford to stay up. Overall the results mean that Latics are relegated alongside Hull and Charlton unless their appeal is successful.

Paul Cook named an unchanged team for the season defining fixture.

Latics started slowly and Fulham’s leading goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic had a glorious chance after only 90 seconds but he blazed over the crossbar from 12 yards out.

David Marshall then had to make a good save on 14 minutes from a powerful Kabano drive.

The hosts gradually asserted themselves with Kal Naismith forcing a save from Marek Rodak low down to his right.

Jamal Lowe had an opportunity on 24 minutes when he broke clear but instead of going for goal he pulled the ball back and the danger was cleared. Samy Morsy then tried his luck from distance but his strike swerved wide of the target.

On 27 minutes Latics thought they had gone ahead when Moore tapped home after Naismith’s close range effort was saved but the linesman ruled it out for offside.

But on 32 minutes the hosts were deservedly ahead as Nathan Byrne burst forward down the right and clipped a superb cross to the back post for Moore to head past Rodak.

1-0 to Latics at the interval but early in the second half the hosts were undone by a terrible refereeing mistake.

Williams won the ball cleanly on the edge of the area but referee Brooks awarded a free kick and bizarrely gave Williams a yellow card.

Kabano stepped up and expertly curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner. It had been a horrendous decision by the referee and it was to prove so crucial in their ultimate relegation to League One.

Despite the setback Latics continued to press forward and when Leon Balogun surged forward and got on the end of a great cross by Byrne they almost went ahead again but Rodak produced an excellent save diving low down to his right.

Robinson then surged forward to set up Kieran Dowell down the left hand side but the Everton loanees strike only found the side netting.

Naismith drilled wide from the edge of the area on 77 minutes before Williams fired narrowly wide on 79  minutes. At the other end the visitors had a chance on 81 minutes when Bryan got forward but his effort from distance didn’t trouble Marshall.

Cook introduced Joe Gelhardt for Dowell on 83 minutes and the young striker almost immediately made an impact breaking forward only for Michael Hector to haul him down with a cynical foul on the edge of the box.

On 87 minutes Naismith had a shot just over the crossbar before he had another strike well saved by Rodak soon after.

In added time Gelhardt forced another good save from Rodak but Latics just couldn’t find the winner that their performance had deserved.

A cruel end to the season after a monumental effort by Latics’ players. Their performances since lockdown have been exceptional and many have been during the administration crisis.

Cook and the players should be extremely proud of the character, determination and skill they have shown in adversity. They did not deserve this ending to the campaign.

Without the EFL’s 12 point deduction Latics would’ve finished comfortably in mid-table after a great second half to the season.

However, they now face relegation unless their appeal against the points deduction which is due to take place on 31 July is successful. If there is any justice in football the appeal will be successful but don’t hold your breath.

Posted in Championship, Fulham, John Brooks, Kieffer Moore, Neeskens Kabano, Neeskens Kebano, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Late equaliser puts Latics’ survival hopes in jeopardy – Charlton Athletic 2 Wigan Athletic 2

Jamal Lowe

Jamal Lowe gave Latics an early lead

A stoppage time equaliser by Charlton’s Macauley Bonne denied Wigan Athletic a vital win in their search for Championship survival.

Jamal Lowe had given Latics the lead after only nine minutes when he headed home at close range after Kieffer Moore’s header was only partially saved by Dillon Phillips.

But the Addicts responded quickly and they drew level when Alfie Doughty volleyed past David Marshall following Adam Matthews’ deep cross.

The visitors went back in front on 40 minutes when Antonee Robinson surged forward and played a lovely cross to the back post where Kieran Dowell finished with some style.

The hosts enjoyed greater possession in the second half but it looked as though the visitors had held out until Bonne grabbed the equaliser in the 92nd minute.

Latics survival prospects are now hanging by a thread with the EFL’s 12-point deduction and Luton’s 1-0 win at almost relegated Hull City.

Latics must now win their final game of the season against Fulham on Wednesday and hope that Luton or Charlton lose or draw.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly retained the same starting eleven from the 8-0 thrashing of Hull City on Tuesday night with Joe Garner returning to the bench after suspension.

Latics started brightly and Kal Naismith fired over the Addicts crossbar from 25-yards after only four minutes.

Five minutes later they were ahead as Naismith broke down the right hand side and chipped a superb cross to the back post for Moore whose header was only partially saved by Phillips and who knocked the ball into the path of Lowe to head home on the goal line.

But within two minutes the Addicks were level as Matthews’ deep cross was expertly volleyed into the Latics’ net by Doughty.

The hosts grew more into the game and they started to create chances, the best of these fell to Bonne who was one-on-one with Marshall but the Scotland international made an excellent save with his legs to deny the striker.

In response to Charlton’s dominance Cook changed his formation to match up with the hosts 5-3-2.

Referee Gavin Ward wasn’t doing Latics any favours as he let several of Charlton’s dangerous challenges go unpunished, in particular an elbow by Bonne on Marshall.

Just before the interval Latics restored their lead after great work by Robinson down the left hand side. The USA international bombed forward playing a one-two with Lowe before clipping a neat cross to the back post for Dowell to convert.

2-1 to Latics at the interval but with both teams desperate for the three points it would prove to be a tense second period.

Charlton manager Lee Bowyer made early substitutions with Johnny Williams and Albie Morgan replacing Forster-Caskey and Field as they went in search of an equaliser.

But it was Latics who threatened on 50 minutes when good interplay between Lowe and Robinson resulted in Lowe’s drive from close range going narrowly wide.

Chuks Aneke replaced Davidson on 54 minutes as the hosts upped their aerial threat.

Naby Saar then forced Marshall into another good save from a curled free kick before Latics went close at the other end when Samy Morsy’s strike from the edge of the box was fumbled by Phillips and Lowe couldn’t quite capitalise on the follow up.

Lee Evans replaced Dowell on 66 minutes and Moore had an effort saved by Philips on 68 minutes.

Charlton were enjoying more possession but Latics always looked dangerous on the break and Moore headed Evans’ cross over the bar on 85 minutes.

Lowe was replaced by Gary Roberts as the game entered six minutes of added time.

It looked as though the visitors had held out, but on 92 minutes Aneke won a crucial header and Bonne slotted the equaliser to put Latics’ survival hopes on a knife edge.

Championship Table courtesy of Whoscored.com

 

Posted in Alfie Doughty, Championship, Charlton Athletic, Jamal Lowe, Kieran Dowell, Macauley Bonne, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics blitz relegation rivals – Wigan Athletic 8 Hull City 0

Hat-trick hero Kieran Dowell

Wigan Athletic produced a record victory at the DW Stadium tonight with an 8-0 demolition of relegation rivals Hull City.

Latics were at their free-flowing best as they sought to overcome the EFL’s proposed 12 point penalty. The Tigers on the other hand were toothless and look like a team who have decided they will be dropping into League One.

The onslaught commenced from the kick off as the hosts surged forwards and went ahead after only one minute when Kieran Dowell superbly evaded two defenders before chipping the ball to the back post for Kal Naismith to head home.

Kieffer Moore added a second on 27 minutes after good work by Jamal Lowe before Dowell added the third on 32 minutes firing past George Long from the edge of the area.

Lowe scored the fourth at the near post and Moore produced a diving header for the fifth before Dowell added his second and Latics’ sixth. Joe Williams rounded off the first half rout with the seventh goal which was his first for the club.

The second half was a much less frenetic affair as Latics took their foot off the pedal but Dowell was able to complete his hat-trick with a great volleyed finish from Nathan Byrne’s cross.

Even with the proposed EFL 12 point deduction Latics are now above the Tigers because of their much superior goal difference.

Paul Cook made one change to the starting line up with Leon Balogun slotting into defence to replace the suspended Danny Fox.

Right from the kick off Latics drove forward with Williams forcing a full-length save from Long. From the resulting corner the hosts maintained the pressure and Dowell showed great skill to beat two defenders before chipping the ball to the back post for Naismith to head home at close range.

Naismith then curled an effort narrowly wide of the post before Lowe missed a glorious chance after Robinson had set him up with a surging run forward.

Lowe was the provider on 27 minutes when he set up Moore inside the six yard box and the big striker made it 2-0 at the near post.

Naismith nearly added a third soon afterwards after being set up by a slide rule pass from Dowell but the in-form utility player’s vicious 20-yard strike crashed against the post.

Dowell did make it 3-0 on 32 minutes with a powerful volley from the edge of the box. Lowe quickly added a fourth at the near post as Hull visibly crumbled under the constant barrage of Latics’ attacks.

Dowell made it six on 42 minutes with a low drive past the hapless Long.

Williams rounded off the first half blitz with a superb strike from 25 yards for his first goal for the club just before the half time interval.

A simply stunning first half display by Latics which will be remembered by the fans for years to come.

The second half was somewhat less eventful as the hosts were generally content to  maintain possession and made substitutions which slightly disrupted their momentum.

They were however able to score their eighth, which was Dowell’s hat-trick and it proved to be the best goal of the game.

The Everton loanee produced a first-time volley into the top right-hand corner of Long’s goal from Byrne’s cross.

Late on referee Tony Harrington bizarrely awarded Hull a penalty for an innocuous challenge by Byrne but then changed his mind to make matters worse for the demoralised visitors.

This had been a scintillating performance by Latics which will have given the players a huge confidence boost going into the final two games.

Despite the club going into administration and the break in the season due to Covid 19 Cook and the players have been magnificent. They’ve been on an amazing run of form with ten clean sheets in the last eleven games.

Even with the EFL’s proposed 12 point deduction it is looking as though they can escape the drop. If they pull this one off it will surely be the greatest of great escapes.

Championship Table

Posted in Championship, Hull City, Jamal Lowe, Joe Williams, Kieffer Moore, Kieran Dowell, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics can still escape the drop despite setback at Oakwell – Barnsley 0 Wigan Athletic 0

David Marshall collected his ninth clean sheet in ten games

It was a nervous relegation encounter at Oakwell as Latics and Barnsley cancelled each other out in a dour 0-0 draw.

Despite losing defender Danny Fox to a red card on 70 minutes the ten men Latics defended well and held out for what could prove to be a vital point in their relegation battle

The Tykes best chance came on 60 minutes when Michael Sollbauer volleyed just wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.

Latics best opportunity came when Kal Naismith drove forward and Jordan Williams made a goal saving block inside the six yard box.

Neither team wanted a draw but Latics are still optimistic that they can escape the drop despite the EFL’s likely 12 point penalty.

Latics are now on 54 points (appeal pending the 12 point penalty) and Barnsley are bottom of the Championship table on 43 points with three games remaining.

Paul Cook named an unchanged team for the trip to South Yorkshire with Leon Balogun, Anthony Pilkington and Michael Jacobs injured and Joe Garner suspended.

The visitors started nervously as Barnsley threatened early on with Elliott Simoes firing dangerously across the six yard box in the first minute.

Marshall saved well from Cauley Woodrow on six minutes and he had to make an even better save on 13 minutes diving low down to his left to tip the ball around the post from Jacob Browne’s strike.

Latics’ first threat came on 30 minutes when Kieffer Moore rose to head Kieran Dowell’s corner into the bottom corner but Jack Walton got down well to save at his near post.

In a scrappy game Latics were struggling to cope with the Tykes formation and manager Cook decided to copy the hosts and go to a 3-5-2 formation on 40 minutes.

Just before the interval Dowell had a good opportunity to put the visitors ahead but his shot was well blocked by a Sollbauer challenge.

Early in the second half Jamal Lowe had another effort blocked on the edge of the area.

The best opportunity of the game fell to Sollbauer on 62 minutes when he was eight yards out and volleyed narrowly wide of Marshall’s post.

Latics were really up against it on 70 minutes when Fox was given a straight red card for a high challenge on Simoes.

The ten men battled valiantly and they might have snatched all three points when Naismith drove forwards played a one-two with Robinson before toe poking the ball towards goal only for Williams to save the day for Barnsley.

Moments later Naismith was involved at the other end denying Simoes with a superb block.

In added time Marshall came to Latics’ rescue with another top class save to deny Callum Styles and keep his ninth clean sheet in ten games.

Neither team could make the breakthrough that they so desperately sought but Latics will be the marginally happier given the two clubs remaining fixtures.

Latics’ supporters couldn’t fault the effort today but the quality just wasn’t there. Defensively they had been excellent but the strikers just weren’t firing.

It had been a scrappy game as the two teams desperate for survival had cancelled each other out. But at least the other results went Latics’ way and they are still capable of escaping the drop.

Championship Table courtesy of Whoscored.com
Posted in Barnsley, Championship, Danny Fox, David Marshall, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics’ players magnificent in adversity – Wigan Athletic 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Kieffer Moore

Kieffer Moore with a vital goal for Latics

In the midst of an administration crisis Latics’ players responded to Saturday’s defeat at Brentford with a totally committed and characterful victory over Queens Park Rangers at the DW Stadium.

Latics totally dominated the first half and should have been out of sight by half time if it was not for some profligate finishing and resolute Rangers defending.

After Jamal Lowe, Kal Naismith and Kieran Dowell had missed presentable chances they went ahead on 33 minutes when captain Samy Morsy drove forward before setting up Kieffer Moore who smashed the ball past Lumley for the only goal of the game.

Rangers enjoyed more possession in the second half and might have drawn level when Ilias Chair forced a good save from Scotland keeper David Marshall but Latics still had plenty of chances to increase their lead with Moore curling an effort just wide and Lowe forcing Lumley into another good save.

Latics move level with QPR on 53 points and eight points above third bottom Hull City but they have the EFL’s 12 point deduction hanging over them.

Paul Cook made one change from the team which lost at Brentford with Danny Fox replacing the injured Leon Balogun. Joe Garner was unavailable due to suspension and Anthony Pilkington and Michael Jacobs are both injured.

The hosts started very brightly with Lowe forcing Lumley to save with his legs and Naismith having a goal bound shot deflected for a corner inside the first four minutes.

Soon afterwards Moore’s whipped cross just evaded Lowe at the near post and Naismith coming in at the back post couldn’t make a proper contact. Latics really should’ve been ahead in those opening ten minutes.

Everton loanee Dowell showed great vision and skill by setting up Moore on 20 minutes but the big striker somehow managed not to finish from a very good position.

Bright Osayi-Samuel had a rare effort on target for Rangers on 22 minutes but it was comfortably collected by Marshall.

Latics pressure eventually paid dividends on 33 minutes when Morsy surged forward and played in Moore who lashed the ball past Lumley from inside the box.

Naismith nearly doubled the lead just before the interval but Lumley saved well diving low down to his left.

The hosts had been in almost total control throughout the first half but manager Cook would have been concerned that they had not turned their dominance into more goals.

Moore had another great chance early in the second half when he curled his shot just wide of the far post from a central position.

Soon afterwards the Wales international striker had another effort deflected over the crossbar.

The visitors were enjoying more possession in the second half and their best chance of the game came on 60 minutes when Chair forced Marshall into a crucial save.

But Latics had managed to keep QPR away from goal for most of the game and they claimed a vital three points in their quest for Championship survival.

Captain Morsy had once again led by example with an inspiring display in midfield but this was an excellent all around team effort.

In an extremely difficult week Cook’s men had been magnificent and if they can maintain this form they could still accumulate enough points to escape the drop, and despite the EFL’s harsh 12 point deduction.Championship Table

Championship Table courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Championship, Kieffer Moore, Paul Cook, QPR, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics must keep fighting despite difficult week – Brentford 3 Wigan Athletic 0

Paul Cook

Paul Cook said ‘I can guarantee to the supporters that we will not be lying down and just fading away’.

It’s been an incredibly difficult and emotional week for everyone associated with Wigan Athletic and things didn’t get better on the pitch as they were outplayed by an in-form Brentford at Griffin Park.

Said Benrahma scored a hat-trick for the hosts as Latics failed to re-create their recent good form against their free-flowing opponents.

It was difficult from the off for the visitors as they lost centre half Leon Balogun to injury after only five minutes with Kal Naismith having to drop back into defence and Benrahma giving Brentford the lead after only 19 minutes.

It was one-way traffic as Latics failed to come to terms with the Bees slick pass and move.

Early in the second half Benrahma’s speculative effort floated over goalkeeper David Marshall for the Bees second.

Before Benrahma completed his hat-trick on 66 minutes when he shot low into the bottom corner after good work down the right flank from Josh Dasilva and Christian Norgaard.

The visitors just couldn’t get a foothold in the game and matters got course when substitute Joe Garner was given a red card for a high boot on 81 minutes.

Latics drop to 16th place in the table on 50 points but the EFL’s proposed 12 point deduction would put them at the bottom of the table.

Brentford remain in third place just two points behind West Brom who play Hull City today.

Paul Cook made one change from Tuesday’s night’s starting line-up with Kal Naismith replacing Michael Jacobs.

Latics were under pressure from the kick off as the Bees went in search of three points in their quest for promotion to the Premier League.

Latics lost centre half Leon Balogun after only five minutes with Kal Naismith having to drop back into defence and substitute Gavin Massey replacing Naismith on the wing.

The Bees buzzed from the kick off, dominating the game and it seemed only a matter of the time before they would go ahead.

It didn’t take too long as Benrahma fired home from inside the area on 19 minutes from Emiliano Marcondes’ header.

Benrahma’s second came 12 minutes into the second half when what appeared to be a cross deceived David Marshall and floated into the top right corner for 2-0.

By the 66th minute, the Algerian forward completed his hat-trick shooting low into the bottom corner from just outside the area.

Matters got worse for Latics with nine minutes remaining when substitute Garner was given a red card card for a high boot on Jan Zamburek.

The Bees deservedly ran out comfortable winners in what had been a devastating week for Latics.

The team must now pick itself up and regroup for Wednesday night’s game against QPR at the DW Stadium.

The battle for survival continues both on and off the pitch. With five games remaining Paul Cook’s men must accumulate as many points as possible and hope that the EFL see sense and that the decision to deduct points is rescinded.

Let’s Hang On Appeal

The Wigan Athletic Supporters Club “Let’s Hang On” appeal has already raised over £110,000 to ensure that Wigan Athletic Football Club have the necessary funds  to complete the season.

The club have confirmed that they will use the funds raised to help with travelling to away fixtures, overnight stays and helping to pay the wages of over 500 staff.

If you have not already done so please PLEDGE NOW to support Wigan Athletic Football Club

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/official-wigan-athletic-football-club-fundraiser

Posted in Brentford, Championship, Paul Cook, Said Benrahma, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Wigan Athletic – Dodgy owners, financial naivety and EFL incompetence

Wigan badge banner Wigan Athletic banner

As a lifelong fan of the club the news that Latics have gone into administration has been devastating and sickening. I am still in shock about what has happened but my immediate thoughts are follows.

On the playing front the club was in fantastic form with Paul Cook’s team having taken 27 points from a possible 39, unbeaten in nine with seven clean sheets in a row. The club had moved to 14th in the Championship table and was virtually safe from relegation.

Behind the scenes the club had changed hands only four weeks ago when the International Entertainment Corporation, a Hong Kong-based, Cayman Islands-registered company led by Stanley Choi, sold the club to Next Leader Fund in which Choi still has a 51% stake.

Worryingly under the change of ownership the Next Leader Fund loaned Latics £28.77m at an interest rate of 8%, rising to 20% if the club defaulted on payments.

The EFL’s test and takeover process involves determining that a new owner has the money to buy a club and support it financially for at least the remainder of the season and the whole of the following season.

However less than a month later and a week since the partner Au Yeung was announced as the new majority owner, the club has appointed the administrators Begbies Traynor.

It’s a murky story, why were Next Leader Fund allowed to pass the EFL’s ‘Fit and Proper’ test when they did not have the resources to run the club?

Surely the EFL should take some responsibility for their poor decision-making?

But instead they immediately issued Latics with a 12-point deduction which dumps them at the bottom of the Championship table and staring relegation starkly in the face.

The EFL have a track record of poor implementation of ‘Fit & Proper’ and several clubs have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous owners and this seems to be another example of such behaviour.

The administrators have said that they may appeal the 12-point penalty and it would seem they would have a strong case given the EFL’s negligence. If an appeal doesn’t work, then the club should have recourse to the courts.

Latics’ English board members, Chairman Darren Royle, Director Joe Royle and Chief Executive Jonathan Jackson should also take some responsibility for allowing this to happen without making their concerns known about the change in ownership and the financial penalties that were involved.

The board may say they were not in control but they are the custodians of the club and they should have made their concerns known to the EFL.

In the circumstances my immediate priorities for the administrators would be as follows:

  • Stabilise the club and continue to pay the players and other staff with help from the PFA and league
  • Complete this season’s fixtures and maintain the contracts of the current players, while a buyer is sought
  • Appeal to the EFL against 12-point deduction and if that doesn’t work take the matter to the courts
  • Approach Dave Whelan to see if he will help in the short-term with financial help
  • Ensure the new owner is a ‘Fit & Proper’ person or company.

Despite the current difficulties I’m still optimistic the club can get through this and survive.

I’m sure Paul Cook, Samy Morsy and all the players will show their character and commitment at Brentford on Saturday. The rest of us should be equally committed and show our support in whatever way we can. The battle for our existence must commence now. Stay strong and believe. Up the Tics!

Posted in Championship, International Entertainment Corporation, Next Leader Fund, Stanley Choi, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dominant Latics now virtually safe from relegation – Wigan Athletic 3 Stoke City 0

Kal Naismith Wigan Athletic Kal Naismith grabbed a brace – photo courtesy of Wigan Athletic

Wigan Athletic produced one of their best performances of the season to defeat relegation rivals Stoke City 3-0 at the DW Stadium.

Two goals by substitute Kal Naismith and an opening strike by Everton loanee Kieran Dowell ensured that Latics continued their incredible run of form. They have now moved up to 14th place in the Championship table and are virtually safe from relegation.

Stoke were totally outplayed and look in serious relegation trouble after a lacklustre display. They are just one point above the relegation zone with both Huddersfield and Hull having a game in hand.

Paul Cook made two changes to the side that defeated Blackburn Rovers on Saturday with  Michael Jacobs replacing Anthony Pilkington and Leon Balogun replacing Danny Fox.

Latics continued were they had left off against Blackburn and quickly took control of the game.

In the fourth minute Kieffer Moore had an opportunity to open the scoring but he was denied by goalkeeper Jack Butland who smothered his shot at close proximity.

Two minutes later Jamal Lowe fired into the side-netting from a tight angle as the hosts showed their determination to claim the three points.

Soon afterwards Nathan Byrne’s low cross was almost turned in by Moore but the striker couldn’t make a good contact and the chance went begging.

Latics were dominant in most areas but the visitors looked threatening from set-pieces and David Marshall was called upon to make a good save to deny a Sam Vokes header in the 14th minute.

Latics continued to create chances and Butland had to tip Joe Williams’ free kick over the crossbar which had been destined for the top corner.

Captain Samy Morsy then powered forward before unleashing a blistering drive but unfortunately for Latics it was straight at Butland.

Latics lost Jacobs to a thigh injury on 32 minutes and he was replaced by utility man Naismith.

Former Latic James McClean blazed over the angle of post and crossbar on 33 minutes but it was a rare foray by the visitors.

Latics continued their dominance and they took a deserved lead just before the break.  After some neat build up play, Dowell cleverly curled the ball from the right by-line and under Butland and into the net for his first goal for the club.

Substitute Naismith nearly got in on the act moments later when he picked up the ball 35-yards from goal and volleyed left footed for the bottom corner but the Stoke keeper pulled off a miraculous save to deny him.

Dowell then blazed high over the crossbar from a good position as the hosts ended the half in complete control.

In the second half Latics picked up where they had left off in the first and turned their dominance into more goals.

On 54 minutes Jamal Lowe missed an absolute sitter when he failed to capitalise after Naismith had superbly set him up.

But on 65 minutes Latics doubled their lead following some great work by Lowe. The striker’s cross was fumbled onto the under side of the bar by Butland and Naismith finished from close range.

Three minutes later the former Rangers midfielder Naismith produced one of the goals of the season when he connected with Byrne’s cut back on the edge of the area and the ball flew into the net past the helpless Butland.

Latics should have added more to their goal tally but it had been a thoroughly dominant performance which continues their amazing form.

They have surged up the table since the turn of the year, they are nine games unbeaten and have not conceded a goal in their past seven matches – a remarkable achievement in the Championship.

Latics will face probably their toughest game of the season at promotion chasing Brentford on Saturday, but on this current form I certainly wouldn’t bet against Latics getting a good result.

Championship Table courtesy of Whoscored.com
Posted in Championship, Kal Naismith, Kieran Dowell, Stoke City, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics triumph in Lancashire lockdown derby – Wigan Athletic 2 Blackburn Rovers 0

Championship Form TableChampionship form table last 12 games courtesy of Whoscored.com

The Championship’s form team continued their excellent run with 2-0 victory against play-off chasing Blackburn Rovers at the DW Stadium.

In a closely fought encounter it was Latics who had the cutting-edge with two second half goals by substitutes Lee Evans and Michael Jacobs.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround from early December when Latics couldn’t buy a win. Many fans including myself were calling for a change in manager as Paul Cook seemed completely out of ideas.

Great credit should be given to Cook for transforming the team’s fortunes and coming up with a winning formula.

Despite the long lay off Latics have continued were they left off before lockdown. The team spirit is now sky high with all the players pulling in the right direction. Their effort and determination has been exemplary as they pull away from the drop zone.

In the last 12 games Cook’s team have taken 24 points from a possible 36 and are unbeaten in eight with six clean sheets in a row.

Latics retained the same starting eleven from the victory against Huddersfield Town with the fit again Leon Balogun on the bench.

The hosts started brightly with Kieffer Moore curling an effort narrowly wide on eight minutes and then Cedric Kipre headed Kieran Dowell’s corner just wide at the back post.

Jamal Lowe created a great chance for himself bursting into the Rovers area but was closed down and couldn’t quite get his shot away from close range.

Rovers main threat came from two set-pieces with Joe Rothwell curling a free kick just over David Marshall’s crossbar and Stewart Downing forcing a full length save from the Scotland international just before the interval.

The visitors started the second half strongly but it was the hosts who created the better chances with Samy Morsy firing a shot just wide of the target from distance and then Anthony Pilkington curling another effort over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

But it was the substitutes Evans and Jacobs who would make the breakthrough for the hosts.

On 80 minutes Latics went ahead when former keeper Christian Walton fumbled Robinson’s cross under pressure and Evans stayed composed to control the ball and then volley home via the under side of the crossbar.

Rovers had an opportunity to draw level soon afterwards when Samuel’s header looked bound for the top corner but Marshall made an excellent save tipping the ball over the crossbar.

Latics confirmed the points in added time when Joe Williams superb long range pass found Jacobs on the counter attack and the winger showed great pace and determination before cutting inside the box to fire past Walton to make it 2-0.

This had been another excellent performance with everyone contributing to the cause. Captain Morsy once again leading by example but there were also strong displays by Joe Williams, Nathan Byrne, Robinson and Marshall.

The matches come thick and fast now with relegation threatened Stoke City at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night. The visitors will be without former Latic Nick Powell who was sent off yesterday for two bookable offences.

Latics will have a big say in who is relegated from the Championship as they play four of the teams in the relegation battle, Stoke, Barnsley, Hull and Charlton, in the final seven games of the season.

Championship TableChampionship table as at 28 June 2020 courtesy of Whoscored.com
Posted in Blackburn Rovers, Championship, Lee Evans, Michael Jacobs, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wigan Athletic make flying restart as they ease past Huddersfield – Huddersfield Town 0 Wigan Athletic 2

Huddersfield Town v Wigan Athletic behind closed doors

Latics continued their excellent pre-lockdown form with a comfortable 2-0 victory at a deserted John Smith’s Stadium.

Football behind closed doors is an eerie affair and it was the visitors who coped best in the strange surroundings.

The hosts enjoyed plenty of possession but it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score.

Latics went ahead on 26 minutes when Kieffer Moore’s deflected cross found Jamal Lowe who bundled the ball home at close range.

Latics goalkeeper David Marshall made an important save to deny a Juninho Bacuna free-kick before Latics doubled their lead at the start of the second half when Anthony Pilkington’s shot was deflected into the net by Lewis O’Brien.

The visitors seemed fitter than their opponents and could have added to their lead when substitutes Lee Evans and Michael Jacobs forced a good double save from Town keeper Jonas Lossl.

Latics move up to 17th in the Championship table, while the Terriers drop to 20th just one point and two places above the bottom three.

The visitors welcomed back Antonee Robinson from a heart scare and Kieran Dowell and Danny Fox from injury.

But they were without Leon Balogun, Gary Roberts, Gavin Massey, Alex Dobre and Dujon Sterling and Chey Dunkley who were all injured.

It was a scrappy opening period as neither side got the upper hand.

The first real opening came on 20 minutes when Dowell’s clever back heel set up Nathan Byrne down the right and his cross found Pilkington in a great position but the former Huddersfield midfielder fired straight at Lossl.

But Latics were ahead on 26 minutes following a flowing move. Pilkington picked the ball up in midfield and found Moore on the right hand side and the big striker’s cross was deflected off Harry Toffolo into the path of Lowe who chested the ball into the net.

Huddersfield rarely threatened, but when they did Scotland international David Marshall came to their rescue, producing a great one-handed reaction save to deny Bacuna’s in-swinging free kick.

Latics were in control at half time and they consolidated their lead early in the second half. Lowe crossed for Pilkington and the midfielder turned superbly in the box and his shot was deflected into the net by O’Brien.

Latics’ players celebrate

Lowe might have added to the lead moments later but his powerful drive blazed wide of the target from a good position.

The visitors just seemed fitter than their opponents and they had further chances when substitutes Lee Evans and Michael Jacobs forced a good double save from Lossl.

Captain Samy Morsy was in terrific form, bossing midfield and preventing Town from gaining a foothold in the game.

Marshall was called upon in added time when Harry Toffolo forced another excellent save but in truth this had been a surprisingly comfortable return to the Championship.

Latics had cruised home to a satisfying victory which eased their relegation worries.

Paul Cook’s team have now been on a remarkable run and are unbeaten in seven games with five consecutive clean sheets. It’s taken awhile for the team to click but they are now the form team in the Championship. Two more wins would secure their Championship status.

Latics Away Form Latics Away Form – courtesy of Whoscored.com
Posted in Anthony Pilkington, Championship, Huddersfield Town, Jamal Lowe, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment