Graham Barrow’s cunning plan to upset Brighton’s promotion party might have come off on Easter Monday if it was not for some woeful defending.
Barrow had hoped his team would keep the scores level until he could introduce the prolific Nick Powell in the last 30 minutes but Latics went behind before half time.
The goal was a route one affair converted by Glenn Murray with the Latics defence slow to react.
Solly March added the second when his shot went straight through Jakob Haugaard’s legs and the Seagulls could have had many more as the Stoke City loanee keeper made a series of mistakes by dropping crosses and fumbling shots.
In a season of self-inflicted problems Latics have dumped yet more misery upon themselves.
Experienced keeper Matt Gilks had been in good form before Haugaard surprisingly returned to the team against Rotherham and Barnsley and was very shaky to say the least.
But Haugaard’s performance against Brighton at the Amex Stadium was embarrassing and cost Latics any chance of getting a point. The Latics Board must rue signing the agreement that Haugaard play a specified number of games or pay the financial penalty.
It’s do or die now with Latics five points from safety with only three games remaining. Their relegation rivals Blackburn, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham have easier fixtures on paper, so it will require some surprise results for Latics to stay up.
A win against Cardiff City tomorrow is essential if they are to have any hope of survival and Gilks must surely return to the team if they are to have a chance.
Latics must also take a risk with Nick Powell’s fitness as they try to keep their season alive. The former Manchester United midfielder has been limited to 20 and 30 minute spells on the pitch due to his hamstring injury but I would expect him to have more game time against the Bluebirds.
Powell has now scored five goals in his last three substitute appearances with a goal on average every 16.4 minutes.
It is likely that Latics would not have been in relegation trouble if Powell had been available all season. He is a prodigious talent and can turn a game almost single-handedly.
In his last three substitute appearances he has shown Premier League quality and if he can show that kind of form in the next three games who knows what might happen.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 21st April 2017.