- It was a bittersweet afternoon at the DW Stadium as Wigan Athletic came from a goal down to defeat ten-man Blackpool.
- Latics’ owners owners Phoenix 2021 had sacked much-loved manager Leam Richardson in midweek and assistant managers Rob Kelly and James Beattie took charge against the Seasiders.
- The visitors were reduced to ten-men when last man Marvin Ekpiteta was dismissed for a foul on Charlie Wyke after 17 minutes.
- The Seasiders went ahead on 34 minutes when Jack Whatmough appeared to be pushed by Gary Madine before the striker volleyed past Jamie Jones.
- Latics dominated the second half and they drew level in the 54th minute when James McClean scored direct from a corner.
- The hosts sealed an important three points when centre back Curtis Tilt headed Tendayi Darikwa’s cross past Chris Maxwell with two minutes of normal time remaining.
- Latics move up a place to 22nd place and Blackpool drop to 23rd in the Championship table.
There was a strange atmosphere at the DW Stadium as Latics welcomed Blackpool without Richardson as manager.
Acting assistants Rob Kelly and James Beattie made two changes to the starting XI from the defeat at Coventry City with Tom Naylor and Graeme Shinnie replacing Jordan Cousins and Will Keane.
The visitors had an early half chance when following a free kick Charlie Patino crossed the ball to Ekpiteta, but the Seasiders’ captain headed high over Jones’ crossbar.
At the other end Latics nearly created an opportunity when Shinnie burst into the box but a last-ditch tackle from Ekpiteta stopped him from getting a shot in.
The visitors then had a great opportunity to take the lead when Sonny Carey found Madine inside the penalty area but the striker dragged his strike wide of the post.
Soon afterwards the visitors were reduced to 10 men. A pass to Ekpiteta was intercepted by Charlie Wyke who lifted ball over the defender, before being fouled as was about to go through on goal.
Referee Andy Davies decided that Ekpiteta was the last man and gave a straight red card.
It was something of a surprise when the visitors when ahead on 34 minutes. Blackpool launched a long ball towards Maxine who appeared to push Whatmough in the back but the referee allowed play to continue and the striker volleyed past Jones.
1-0 to the Seasiders at half-time.
Latics started the second half brightly pushing forward and utilising the extra man to good effect.
They were now passed the ball much better and ball retention was much improved as Blackpool sat back.
Latics equaliser came in an unlikely fashion in the 54th minute.
McClean’s low in swinging corner avoided everybody at the near post before finding the back of the Blackpool net.
The hosts then pushed forward for the winner and they nearly went in front from a corner when Shinnie’s volley was just inches wide of Maxwell’s near post.
But with two minutes of normal time Latics deservedly found the winner. Darikwa produced an enticing cross to the near post and Tilt did superbly to get in front of his marker and head powerfully into the Seasiders net.
The Latics fans were jubilant after their first win in eight games but it was a bittersweet moment as they had done it without Leam Richardson who had done so much to revive the club during the last two years.
This was an important result for Latics prior to the break for the World Cup.
Despite Blackpool being down to ten-men, the game was finely poised at half-time but Latics held their nerve and played some very good passing football in the second half.
The players had shown their determination and commitment to get the victory for Leam Richardson.
It had been a very poor decision by the owners Phoenix 2021 to sack Richardson.
Latics had started the season very well and although results haven’t been good recently they’ve been unlucky not to pick up more points.
There is still a long way to go in the season and a few good results could easily have propelled the club away from the relegation zone.
Following the summer recruitment it was obvious to most observers that the club needed to further strengthen the current playing staff during the upcoming transfer window.
Football club’s require good leadership, stability, and team togetherness if they are to be successful in the long term.
Sacking the manager after a few bad results will not necessarily make the club successful.
Leam is an excellent leader and if he had been given the resources I’m sure he would’ve kept the club in the Championship this season.
I hope Richardson’s sacking is not a portent of more bad news. The fans do not deserve to go through the turmoil of another period of administration.
Three late salary payments have damaged confidence and stimulated numerous conspiracy theories.
Surely it is now time for Phoenix 2021 to be open and transparent about their intentions going forward.
Post match comments
Speaking afterwards acting assistant manager Rob Kelly was delighted to see his side’s patient performance pay off in the final stages.
“It was a relief for everyone to get the win,” he smiled.
“It was an important three points for everybody. I thought they responded really well (to conceding), certainly after half-time.
“The longer it went on, we knew we would get a couple of chances and that’s what happened.”
Latics were rallied on superbly by the home supporters in the second period, and Kelly praised the fans’ positive influence from the stands this afternoon.
“I’ve got to say the fans have always been fantastic since I’ve been here,” he said.
“Even at home, they’ve been patient and understanding of where we are and what we are trying to do.
“I thought they (the fans) were really good in the second half, and they have been since we have been here.”