Latics horror show – Wigan Athletic 1 Middlesbrough 4

Leam Richardson Wigan Athletic

Leam Richardson – tough task ahead

  • Wigan Athletic produced a shockingly awful performance and were thrashed 4-1 by struggling Middlesbrough at the DW Stadium.
  • Latics went ahead on 34 minutes when Will Keane headed home from James McClean’s corner but after that positive start they just went to pieces.
  • The normally reliable Jack Whatmough slipped and allowed Duncan Watmore to cut the ball back for Isaiah Jones to draw Boro level on 44 minutes.
  • Early in the second half Watmore capitalised on Tendayi Darikwa’s backwards header to get between Darikwa and Whatmough before slotting past Ben Amos.
  • Worse was to come for Latics when a few minutes later Hayden Hackney fired a low drive into the bottom corner.
  • The rout was completed when Chuba Akpom’s penalty made it 4-1 after Graeme Shinnie brought down Jones, but it could so easily have been many more as Latics were just dreadful on the night.
  • Latics drop to 17th in the championship table and Middlesbrough move up to 20th.

Leam Richardson made three changes from the starting XI which lost at Sunderland with Joe Bennett, Thelo Aasgaard and Jordan Cousins replacing Tom Naylor, Jason Kerr and Nathan Broadhead.

Latics started slowly but their first opportunity came in the 13th minute. Cousins picked out Darikwa with a  crossfield pass, and the Latics captain’s inviting cross nearly found Charlie Wyke but Dael Fry cleared the danger.

Middlesbrough threatened in the 18th minute. Jones seized upon a poor pass in the Latics’ penalty area, but his scuffed shot was deflected wide by the feet of Amos.

Latics went ahead in the 34th minute. Darikwa’s powerful drive was superbly tipped onto the crossbar by Zack Steffen.

From the resulting corner, Keane’s header from McClean’s corner found the net at the near post.

The lead did not last long as Latics pressed the self-destruct button just before half-time.

The normally reliable Whatmough slipped and allowed Watmore in behind the Latics defence before picking out Jones who converted from close range.

Early in the second half the visitors nearly took the lead from a corner.

Jonny Howson’s corner found Darrah Lenihan at the far post who put the ball across goal and Watmore headed against the crossbar before Latics fortunately cleared their lines.

Middlesbrough were pressing forward now and Latics were only offering limited resistance.

Jones was pressing high up the pitch and he pinched the ball off the Latics’ defence before finding Watmore whose shot was deflected wide.

Some sloppy Latics defending allowed Boro to take the lead in the 50th minute.

Darikwa headed the ball backwards into the path of Watmore and the winger cut between Darikwa and Whatmough in the penalty area before placing the ball into the far corner of the net.

Latics tried to respond and from Power’s cross into the penalty area Aasgaard’s shot from 12 yards was charged down and deflected wide by Lenihan.  

But Middlesbrough were able to add a third goal on 57 minutes with Latics defence once again in disarray.

Watmore’s cross was deflected to the edge of the penalty area and picked up by Hackney who fired his effort into the bottom right corner from 25-yards out.

Latics were shellshocked but they had brought this on themselves.

Boro thought they had a fourth goal in the 67th minute but Matt Crooks saw his strike ruled out for offside.

But they did get their fourth goal two minutes later. 

Substitute Graeme Shinnie gave the ball away in midfield and tracked back before bringing down Jones in the box.

Akpom despatched the resulting penalty straight down the middle to give Middlesbrough their first away win of the season in emphatic fashion.

To make matters worse for Latics substitute Callum Lang, returning after injury, limped off and had to be substituted. He now looks very doubtful for Saturday’s visit to Queens Park Rangers.

Dispiriting display

Latics had produced by far their worst performance of the season and were deservedly thrashed by a Boro side that were without a manager, low on confidence and without an away win.

It was a very dispiriting display as the team looked completely out of sorts. Saturday’s performance against Sunderland had been poor but this was on another level altogether.

Latics had been their own worst enemy, giving the ball away far too easily, not getting tight enough to their opponents and making numerous defensive mistakes.

They lacked energy and creativity and rarely threatened against a struggling team.

Richardson now has a huge task to restore confidence and to get Latics players performing at a competitive level for Saturday’s visit to Championship leaders QPR.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Richardson believed that his side were exposed to the unforgiving nature of the Championship following a difficult night.

“It was very tough,” he said.

“It was there for all to see, and it’s an absolutely unforgiving league. If we are not full throttle – myself included, along with the players – running into certain teams and individuals, you will find it tough and get punished.

“Every time we took our eye off the ball, we were punished and that’s the level. With the quality of player, you will get punished and we’ve got to be really mindful, and learn really quickly. 

“I thought we slowly crept into the game and earned our goal. There’s never a good time to concede a goal, and we concede following a free-kick near their corner flag. It’s an accumulation of decisions there on after.

“In the second half, we never really got going at all, and every time we closed our eyes and turned our backs, we got punished.”

Whilst disappointed, Richardson expressed that there is no time for negativity, and their focus must immediately switch to reacting in the right way against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday afternoon.

“One thing we will do, we will calculate it straight away because we are travelling down to QPR, with another great challenge,” he explained.

“We’ve worked hard to earn the right to have this challenge. We are at the destination now, and we have to make sure that we fully respect ourselves, the shirt and the games that we are in.

“We want to be competitive in every game, and tonight, we weren’t as competitive as I would’ve liked or thought, and the group knows that.

“Saturday will be competitive, and we will certainly roll our sleeves up, and find a way forward like we always do with every adversity and learning curve.

“It’s our – and my – job to make sure we learn in the correct way, going into the next block of games.”

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Chuba Akpom, Duncan Watmore, Hayden Hackney, Isaiah Jones, Leam Richardson, Middlesbrough, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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