Match report by Jamie Aspinall.
For a change, Latics started the season with a win and a great performance to boot. Nick Powell was the only player able to find a way past ex-Latics keeper Lee Nicholls, who kept the score down to 1-0 but it should have really been more.
It was an organised and pleasing performance from Paul Cook’s side and a composed finish by Powell after great vision from Michael Jacobs rewarded the travelling support of 1,200 Wigan fans with a well-deserved victory.
Apart from the sending off of Callum Elder, things couldn’t have gone much more to plan for the away side. The opening stages saw Latics steady themselves into the game showing good shape with a focus on possession football.
They created many chances throughout the ninety minutes, most of which involved Michael Jacobs, who made countless attacking runs, feeding the strikers with his positive passing. He probably should’ve been on the score sheet after numerous efforts on goal, but many of his shots were lacking in the power required to beat MK Dons’ Man of the Match Lee Nicholls in goal.
Latics’ new captain Sam Morsy summed up the game perfectly… “we were in total control and should have converted more to be honest”.
Paul Cook is trying to instil a hard working, fighting mentality into his team with team spirit at the core. He came out before the start of the game to salute the fans and mentioned in his post match interview “I will always thank our supporters for turning up and the lads should always go over too, irrespective of the result”. He also said “I really enjoyed watching us play today”, I think most Wigan fans will agree that it was the first positive performance for some time.
Considering this was the first competitive game of the season the team showed great synergy throughout. New arrival, Christian Walton looked commanding in goal when called upon, Chey Dunkley was strong and showed a good partnership with Dan Burn.
Nathan Byrne battled all game getting stuck into tackles. Callum Elder probably had the quietest performance of the Latics’ starting line up until his mistimed tackle unfairly saw him sent off. His replacement in the second half, Terell Thomas added more of an attacking option in the left back position.
The midfield was held together by the passing duo of Lee Evans and Sam Morsy, which gave freedom to Michael Jacobs and Gavin Massey to make runs and drive at the MK Dons defence. Massey along with Jacobs was guilty of not converting a few very good chances in front of goal.
Nick Powell was his usual dangerous self and was yet again on hand to provide the three points, Wigan fans will be hoping his season is injury free this time around.
Ivan Toney worked hard to hold up the ball and the determination was there, it was hard to tell whether he will be amongst the goals this season as he only really had one clear cut chance when a header from a cross was saved well by Nicholls on 60 minutes.
The early signs are very positive for Wigan in terms of performance and how well the team seems to have gelled in such a short space of time.
Confidence should be high going into the next League game against Bury at home and with the players on show yesterday, and with some good quality waiting in the wings there will be high hopes at the club for a promotion push back to the Championship.