Toure’s Tics make a promising start – Millwall 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Kolo Toure

  • Wigan Athletic secured a valuable point at play-off chasing Millwall in Kolo Toure’s first game in charge.
  • Will Keane gave Latics the lead when he slotted home on 33 minutes but the hosts drew level just before half time when Zian Flemming volleyed past Jamie Jones from the edge of the box.
  • Danny McNamara fired just over the crossbar for the hosts and Keane headed over for Latics, but in a closely fought second half neither team could break the deadlock.
  • Latics move out of the relegation zone and are in 21st place and Millwall remain in seventh place.

New manager Kolo Toure made three changes to the team which had defeated Blackpool with Joe Bennett, Will Keane, and Nathan Broadhead replacing Rarmari Edmonds-Green, Graeme Shinnie and Charlie Wyke.

In a lively opening period Latics went close in the first minute when James McClean’s dangerous cross was headed towards goal by Nathan Broadhead, but his effort was parried wide for a corner by George Long. 

The hosts soon responded and Mason Bennett’s strike was comfortably saved by Jones.

Bennett threatened again in the 13th minute, when his low effort had to be well saved by Jones.

It was end to end stuff now and Tom Bradshaw stabbed a low effort towards the bottom corner, but Jones did well to get down low and push it away.

Latics went ahead on 33 minutes through Keane’s eighth goal of the season. Broadhead broke into the area and found Keane, whose initial shot was blocked but from the rebound he calmly slotted the ball into the empty net with Long already committed.

Millwall tried to get back on level terms when Andreas Voglsammer headed his effort over the crossbar from a Bennett cross.

But with just five minutes remaining in the first period, Flemming equalised for the home side with an excellent half-volley from the edge of the box.

The hosts started the second half strongly. Flemming’s powerful free-kick was superbly tipped around the post by Jones.

They went close again soon afterwards, but fortunately for Latics Billy Mitchell’s drive was straight at Jones.

Latics continued to enjoy plenty of possession and were passing the ball to good effect. Gradually they started to take a measure of control and Keane almost put the visitors back into the lead when his header from Bennett’s cross just went over the crossbar.

Soon afterwards Keane turned provider when he set up Tom Naylor on the edge of the area, but the midfielder was denied by an excellent save from Long.

Josh Magennis replaced Broadhead on 74 minutes, and Jordan Cousins and Thelo Aasgaard replaced Naylor and Lang on 80 minutes as Toure tried to re-energise his team.

There were few real openings in the remaining minutes as Latics comfortably held out for a valuable point at the Den.

Overview

This was a pleasing performance in Toure’s first game in charge. The manager has only had a short time to work with the players but Latics had produced some good passing football and had tried to play through the thirds to achieve a good result.

Millwall is a notoriously difficult place to go and get a result but Latics had dominated possession against a team who have a very good home record and are pushing for a play-off spot. 

The team had defended resolutely and Jones had an excellent game between the sticks. They had created several good chances and Keane had got on the scoresheet once again, he is surely one of the most underrated strikers in the Championship.

Toure is the first African international player to become a manager in the Championship and he has made a good start to his career in his first game. The first signs are promising but this division is unrelenting and next up are second place Sheffield United at the DW Stadium.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Toure was pleased with his side’s performance levels throughout at the Den.

“The boys played unbelievably well, and I’m very proud of the team,” he said.

“We’ve only had one week of work with the players, and the boys implemented the game plan really well.

“I’m very proud of all of them – they worked hard defensively and offensively – did everything that we asked for.

“We had a game plan, and it was to make sure we could really stop their strength. The players implemented the plan well, and I’m very proud of the team.“

Latics were backed in numbers for the trip to South London, and Toure was quick to recognise the contribution that the supporters made from the stands. 

“I’d really like to thank the fans for their support. They came here, and really backed us (in a tough place to go.)”

Player ratings 

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Kolo Toure, Millwall, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane, Zian Flemming and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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