A bump in the road or something more serious? Cheltenham Town 0 Wigan Athletic 0

Cheltenham defend a Latics free-kick

  • Wigan Athletic produced a lacklustre performance in a 0-0 draw at League One strugglers Cheltenham Town.
  • The hosts had the better chances in a scrappy game at the Jonny Rocks Stadium with Callum Wright heading over from a good position and Alfie May firing wide from an even better position in the first half.
  • Will Keane and Jack Whatmough were unable to convert good opportunities as Latics had an off day in front of goal but they are now unbeaten in 19 games in all competitions. 
  • Latics are in second place in the League One table, one point behind leaders Rotherham but with two games in hand. Cheltenham are in 17th place.

Latics made one change from the victory against Gillingham, with Josh Magennis making his debut in place of Stephen Humphrys. The Robins had former Latics goalkeeper Owen Evans between the sticks.

The visitors were the first to threaten when Gwion Edwards crossed from the right but it was well defended by the Robins captain Will Boyle.

The hosts then had a great chance to open the scoring when Alfie May’s corner was headed back across goal by Boyle to Callum Wright who headed his effort over from close range.

Latics gradually started to assert themselves and they went close when Keane stole a loose pass out of defence and laid the ball off to Magennis who then set up James McClean, but the Irishman’s effort cleared the crossbar.

The Robins had a great opportunity to take the lead soon afterwards as Whatmough’s header hit Kell Watts and fell to May inside the area but the forward fired narrowly wide of the target.

It had been a scrappy first half with chances few and far between as both teams battled to gain control.

Latics started the second half strongly and Edwards delivered a dangerous cross from the right, but Robins keeper Evans bravely punched away the danger. 

Keane had a big chance to break the deadlock when Magennis sent him through on goal, but on an uneven surface the ball bobbled and his final shot was wide of the far post.

It was to be Keane’s last action as he left the pitch holding his hamstring and was replaced by Callum Lang. 

Lang’s introduction was the catalyst for Latics to press forward for the breakthrough and his jinking runs posed a major threat. 

But at the other end the Robins threatened when substitute Kion Etete pulled the ball back to Raglan  inside the area, but the shot was well blocked by Tom Naylor. From the resulting corner, the ball came out to Liam Sercombe, who saw his volley comfortably saved by Ben Amos.

Amos was called upon again in the 72nd minute when he made an excellent save to keep the scores level. Sercombe found the run of Matty Blair in behind, but Amos got down bravely to deny the effort from point-blank range. 

Latics continued to press for their usual late winner and they threatened when Shinnie’s cross from the left was flicked on by Magennis and fell to Whatmough who controlled the ball with his chest but his volley lacked pace and was straight at Evans.

The Robins were reduced to ten men in added time when debutant Ben Williams was shown his second yellow card for a foul on substitute Gavin Massey.

Latics continued to battle until the final whistle but they just couldn’t make the breakthrough and had to settle for a rare single point after four straight victories.

Speaking to the media after the game Richardson believed his side shaded the fixture in spells, and emphasised that any point collected on the road is a good one.

“I thought we shaded it in most parts but only just shaded it,” he said.

“I thought in possession, the quality on the pitch from both teams wasn’t as fluent as we both would have liked, but if you’re not going to win, it’s important to make sure that you don’t lose.

“I thought we were resilient in our defence, as I thought Cheltenham were, but we had to meet each other within those challenges, races and tackles. Any point away from home in this league is a good point. 

“They’ve had some good results this year and they’re a newly promoted team. Michael (Duff) has got them well organised, well-drilled and disciplined and they have some good players on the pitch. “

Overall it was a frustrating afternoon for Latics but the fans shouldn’t be too critical as they are still on an incredible run and you can’t always be at your best.

Latics missed Lang in the first half and Magennis was making his debut and it will inevitably take a little time for the striker to settle and build an understanding with his teammates.

Against Cheltenham they tended to play direct to Magennis, but they can play a variety of styles to win games and they have always adapted well when the need arises.

The manager and coaching staff certainly have the tactical awareness to get the team promoted playing both the short and long game. They have done an amazing job so far and they are still in the strongest position for automatic promotion.

The matches continue to come thick and fast as they face sixth placed Oxford United at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night, and as usual I’m sure Richardson’s men will be well prepared and up for the challenge.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Cheltenham Town, League One, Leam Richardson, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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