Latics produced another breathtaking away victory at Walsall and sent a strong message to their promotion rivals that they are gunning for the League One title.
After Burton Albion’s midweek defeat to Southend United, Latics are now only four points behind the league leaders with 14 games and 42 points still to play for.
Gary Caldwell’s team has made a remarkable surge up the table following an inconsistent start to the season. The manager and his recruitment team have made some excellent signings during the campaign and the squad now has greater quality in depth.
But tomorrow’s opponents Bury provide a stark reminder of how quickly things can go wrong, if the mindset is not right.
Latics were thrashed 4-0 in the FA Cup first round tie at Gigg Lane. Caldwell told the media at the time that it was the lowest point he’d had as a manager. He said:
“I’m embarrassed and I apologise to the fans. I’d have made 11 changes at HT and 3 more in the second half if I could.”
Latics had started well, but after a mistake by keeper Richard O’Donnell gifted the Shakers the lead, the performance went rapidly downhill and they were 3-0 down by half time.
Former Latics loanee Leon Clarke rubbed salt in the wound by adding a fourth in the second half.
Latics will be seeking revenge for that drubbing in the FA Cup and Caldwell and his coaching staff will be ramming home the message to the players that they must maintain their high standards if they are to achieve top spot.
Following the Bury game, Latics will have one of their most difficult fixtures of the season when they face fifth placed Millwall at the New Den on Tuesday night.
It is a notoriously difficult place to play with an intimidating crowd so Latics will have to be at their best to get a good result.
Last season both clubs were relegated from the Championship and the equivalent fixture was a bad-tempered encounter.
Millwall set out with a game plan to intimidate Latics with some tough tackling and off the ball aggravation and the strategy paid dividends in the second half as Martyn Waghorn was sent off for retaliation and then Jason Pearce and Ed Upson were both dismissed for an altercation as the game descended into chaos.
Caldwell will want to ensure there are no slip-ups this time around and the team’s focus must not waiver, whatever the intimidation, if they are to get the results required.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 26th February 2016.