It was another week of contrasting results for Latics with a disappointing away defeat at Peterborough and a narrow 1-0 victory against Plymouth at the DW Stadium.
At the Abax Stadium Latics’ failure to convert a multitude of first-half chances proved crucial as they slipped to a narrow 3-2 defeat.
Latics went into the interval 1-0 up but they could have been five or six ahead as they dominated the home team from the kick-off.
Ivan Toney twice, Nick Powell twice, Gavin Massey twice, and Michael Jacobs all had good goalscoring opportunities before Jacobs’ deflected effort separated the teams at the interval.
But Latics’ profligacy in front of goal proved crucial as a reinvigorated Posh were the better team in the second half and ran out surprising winners.
After the game Paul Cook commented,
“It’s a reminder, if we needed one, that if you don’t take your chances, you will be punished in this league.”
It was a similar picture on Tuesday night as Latics dominated Plymouth from the outset and should have been well ahead by half time.
They could have gone in front after only 90 seconds when Gavin Massey crossed for Nick Powell who then headed wide of the target. Powell then fired a free-kick wide and Will Grigg headed against the cross bar from a good position.
Massey also had two very good chances well saved by Kyle Letheren. Grigg had a great chance just before the interval but he hesitated in front of goal and his side-footed shot was blocked.
Jacobs then saw another great chance go begging. All square at half time in a one-sided encounter but would Latics’ failure to be clinical in front of goal once again come to haunt them?
They had plenty more chances in the second-half but they were unable to break the deadlock until they were awarded a penalty on 82 minutes, which fortunately Powell dispatched with some aplomb.
Out of 23 shots against Plymouth there were only seven on target and no goal from open play.
The general feeling amongst Paul Cook and his coaching staff is that as long as they are creating chances they will be ok.
However, Latics have already lost to Shrewsbury and Peterborough and they still have to play many of the stronger teams in the division.
If they are to overcome these teams they are going to have to improve their goals to chances ratio.
Unfortunately for Latics, top striker Grigg doesn’t appear to be back to full fitness and hasn’t yet returned to being the prolific marksman of the 2015/16 season.
Toney works hard but he doesn’t look like a 20 goal striker and though Jacobs and Massey are excellent players, they are not yet converting enough of their opportunities.
Similarly Powell is Latics’ top scorer with five goals but he should be scoring more at this level.
Latics may currently be sitting in second place in the League One table but they must improve their finishing and convert more of their chances if they are to finish in the automatic promotion places.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 29th September 2017.