Latics edge closer to the title – Wigan Athletic 1 AFC Wimbledon 1

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Paul Cook must be offered a new contract as soon as possible

Champions elect Wigan Athletic fought out a 1-1 draw with AFC Wimbledon at the DW Stadium but both teams had reason to be satisfied with the result.

Second place Blackburn had been defeated at Charlton so Latics only require a point at Doncaster next week to secure the League One title and the Wombles look to have a secured their League One status.

The visitors made it difficult for Latics in the early stages and went ahead after some sloppy defending from the hosts.

Lyle Taylor picked up a poor pass from Nathan Byrne who fed Joe Pigott to finish past Christian Walton. The Dons might have added a second soon afterwards but the Brighton loanee keeper pulled off a superb save to deny Dean Parrett.

Latics struggled to get going in the first half but the second half was a different matter as the hosts dominated proceedings.

Michael Jacobs deflected effort drew Latics level after 69 minutes and they should have taken the lead after creating a series of good goal scoring opportunities.

Latics top scorer Grigg and winger Colclough were both denied by point blank saves from keeper George Long as the Dons held out for a valuable point.

There’s all to play for going into the final games but few people would bet against Latics securing the title and the Dons playing League One football next season.

Paul Cook made two changes from the team that drew 1-1 at Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night, with Ryan Colclough and Will Grigg replacing Gavin Massey and James Vaughan.

The match commenced with high expectations from Latics’ fans at the prospect of clinching the title on the last home game of the season. But the visitors had their own pressing demands of staving off relegation to contend with.

It was the Wombles who started the better as the hosts struggled to get into their usual stride.

The visitors went ahead on 24 minutes when Latics needlessly gave the ball away in midfield and Lyle Taylor fed Joe Pigott to finish comfortably past Christian Walton.

They might have increased their lead moments later when Parrett broke free and unleashed a powerful drive from the edge of the area but Walton produced an acrobatic save to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Latics started to create some opportunities at the end of the first half but it had been an out of sorts performance up to the interval.

They started to click into gear at the beginning of the second half, with Grigg soon going close when he got in front of his marker but he couldn’t keep his shot down.

Cook made a double substitution on 60 minutes introducing Vaughan and Nick Powell for Roberts and Max Power.

Powell was soon at the centre of the action and he evaded a couple of challenges before forcing a good save from Long at his near post.

Latics were now controlling possession and forcing the Dons on the defensive.

The breakthrough came with just over 20 minutes remaining when Jacobs fired home from inside the box via a slight deflection.

It was all Latics now as they pressed for the winner and Long made two superb saves to keep the scores level. First he denied Colclough’s volley from six yards out and then he acrobatically tipped over Grigg’s goal bound effort from close range.

Colclough might have won it for Latics at the death but his strike from inside the area only found the side netting.

Latics had not been at their best on the day but the Dons had battled well for an important point in their relegation battle.

The fans disappointment in the final result was eased by the news that Blackburn had lost at Charlton which means Latics will only require a point at Doncaster to clinch the title.

Whatever happens next Saturday it’s been a very impressive season for the Latics and they will be well pleased with their appointment of former player Paul Cook as manager in the close season. Cook has transformed the club from Championship no hopers to likely League One Champions with relative ease.

Cook may have inherited some good players but he also had to root out the poor performers and bring in some bargain free transfers.

Team spirit and Cook’s strong connection with the players and fans has also been a major part of the success story.

Latics have the basis of a decent squad for the Championship but they will certainly need to add key personnel if they are to seriously compete at the higher level.

Much could depend on the takeover of the club by a Far East consortium which has been agreed in principle for several months.

Latics must not repeat the mistakes of Cook’s former club Portsmouth, with several clubs reportedly interested in Cook’s services, they must act quickly and tie him down to a new contract as soon as possible.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in AFC Wimbledon, Joe Piggott, League One, Michael Jacobs, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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