Latics celebrated a fantastic FA Cup victory against Premier League Bournemouth on Wednesday night. It was an exhilarating performance by a mixture of fringe players and first team regulars.
Prior to the game it looked as though Paul Cook was prioritising the league games over the FA Cup with six players rested from last Saturday’s draw with Peterborough.
Regulars Christian Walton, Dan Burn, Nathan Byrne, Reece James and Nick Powell were all rested or on the bench, and fringe players Jamie Jones, Alex Bruce, Callum Elder, David Perkins, Gary Roberts and Ryan Colclough all made rare starting appearances.
A few weeks ago I wrote a 12th Man piece suggesting that Latics’ squad players would have to step up to the mark if the club was to be successful in the second half of the season and they certainly did that to great effect on Wednesday night.
Cook’s team adopted a high-pressing game with Will Grigg, Gavin Massey, Colclough and Roberts all pushed well up the pitch.
The work rate by the forwards and midfield players in particular was phenomenal as they ran and harried their Premier league opponents into submission.
Winger Colclough was instrumental in the first goal and had one of his best games in a Latics shirt. Roberts and Perkins worked tirelessly throughout, Elder got on the score sheet with a pinpoint header and substitute Noel Hunt provided the flicked header for Burn’s second goal.
It was an exemplary effort by Latics’ fringe players and Cook rightly praised the work rate, effort and commitment of the players after the game. The manager went on to say,
“It’s always nice when you win a game like that. It was great for some of the lads who haven’t been playing recently to get minutes and to a man they were excellent, so great credit to them. The other lads who played as well were brilliant.”
The squad really showed their metal on the night and they have now gone 13 league and cup games unbeaten but they will have to be at their best when they make the long trip to Plymouth Argyle tomorrow.
They could be severely tested by an in-form Plymouth who have moved into mid-table following a meteoric rise from the relegation zone.
Derek Adams team are on a seven game unbeaten run and have only two defeats in the last 16 matches. They are now only eight points off a play-off spot with 18 games still to play.
Unfortunately striker Will Grigg limped off against Bournemouth and could be a doubt for the game tomorrow, but at least they will have new signing James Vaughan available as Latics seek to consolidate their lead at the top of the table.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 19th January 2018.