What a sensational season it’s been at Wigan Athletic. Many fans worried about the prospect of a young chairman and an untried manager running the club but David Sharpe has steadied the ship and Gary Caldwell has risen to the challenge of a quick return to the Championship.
There have been so many memorable moments on the pitch during this campaign but here are my five personal highlights:
1. The first signs that Gary Caldwell’s team were moving in the right direction came against Scunthorpe United during a night game at the DW Stadium in August.
Latics gave the Iron a great lesson in pass and move. The visitors had no answer to Wigan’s style of play, which was reminiscent of the dominant performances produced during the Roberto Martinez days.
Latics demonstrated how to outplay their opponents with some top quality football. The 3-0 score line did not flatter the team who could have won by many more on the night.
Latics were still a work in progress but they produced the kind of football that had the fans purring. It had been evident in the opening games what they have been trying to achieve, but this was the first time that the team had fully clicked together.
2. Latics recorded their first away win of the season in September with a dramatic comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 at Chesterfield.
With nine minutes of normal time remaining Latics looked to be down and out, but Leon Barnett’s volley, Craig Davies’ penalty and Jordy Hiwula’s last-minute winner produced an amazing smash-and-grab victory.
There were some amazing scenes in the away end when Hiwula won the game and Latics fans celebrated with a crazy mini pitch invasion.
3. Latics staged another amazing comeback against second placed Gillingham in January. They had trailed the Gills 2-0 after 60 minutes but turned the game around for an incredible 3-2 victory.
It was a defining moment in Latics’ season as they overhauled a Gillingham team who had previously looked likely to secure automatic promotion.
Latics had fought back through Will Grigg and Max Power and then Captain Craig Morgan produced a stunning 96th minute header to send the DW Stadium into raptures.
4. In February Latics moved into second spot in the table with Yanic Wildschut’s 91st minute winner at Walsall and leapfrogged Walsall and Gillingham in the race for promotion.
They had taken the lead in the first half with a 30-yard screamer by Conor McAleny, but they were pegged back by a long-range strike on 68 minutes.
With both sides going for the winner it was the Flying Dutchman Wildschut who scored a stunning individual goal to give Latics a massively important three points.
5. In April Latics moved to the top-of-the-table with a 5-1 mauling of Shrewsbury Town. The Shrews had taken a surprise lead on 28 minutes but Latics quickly got back on level terms through Conor McAleny’s superb 20-yard volley.
After the interval Yanic Wildschut fired home after McAleny’s shot came back off the post and they quickly added a third when Jason Pearce headed home Max Power’s corner.
Will Grigg converted a penalty on 66 minutes and then finished off a splendid day for Latics by adding a fifth in the 90th minute when he side footed Power’s cross into the net.
Latics produced another highlight last Saturday when they thrashed Southend 4-1, but the biggest highlight of the season should come at Blackpool tomorrow when they not only confirm promotion but also the League One title.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 29th April 2016.