Toure’s first home game ends in defeat – Wigan Athletic 1 Sheffield United 2

Nathan Broadhead on target

  • Kolo Toure lost his first home game in charge of Wigan Athletic as they succumbed to promotion chasing Sheffield United.
  • The Blades went ahead after only eight minutes when John Egan powerfully headed home Oliver Norwood’s corner.
  • Latics struggled with the Blades high press and the visitors could have added further goals in the first half but for some excellent goalkeeping from Jamie Jones and last ditch defending.
  • The visitors doubled their lead in the 56th minute when Tendayi Darikwa played a poor pass into midfield and Iliman Ndiaye supplied Billy Sharp who finished with clinical precision into the bottom corner.
  • Despite the setback Latics rallied and reduced the deficit when Nathan Broadhead tapped home from close range on 65 minutes.
  • There was some late Latics pressure for an equaliser but the Blades held on to strengthen their position for automatic promotion.
  • Latics are now in 23rd place and Sheffield United remain in second place in the Championship table.

Toure named an unchanged starting XI to the side that picked up a draw away to Millwall.

Latics created the first opportunity in just the second minute. Joe Bennett found Will Keane free in the centre and the striker fired over the Blades crossbar.

The hosts continued to push forward, and Tom Naylor saw his volley from the edge of the box well blocked by a Sheffield United defender with appeals for a handball waved away.

But it was the visitors who stunned the home crowd in the eighth minute. Sharp and Ndiaye both forced good saves from Jamie Jones in quick succession, and from Norwood’s corner, John Egan powered his header past Jones to give United the lead.

The Blades continued to press high and nearly added a second when Ndiaye found Enda Stevens, who looked certain to score until Darikwa’s last-ditch block deflected his effort wide.

Jones then had to push away James McAtee’s low drive at his near post.

Jack Whatmough had to be withdrawn due to injury and replaced by Rarmani Edmonds-Green on the half hour mark and Latics could easily have been three or four goals down by then.

But the hosts gradually started to re-assert themselves and in the 36th minute James McClean went close to an equaliser.

Nathan Broadhead found McClean in behind the Blades’ back line. He saw his first cross blocked before his attempted volley on the rebound went narrowly wide of the target.

Latics began the second half strongly but it was the visitors who doubled their lead in the 56th minute following a mistake by the hosts.

Captain Darikwa’s pass into midfield was behind Power and intercepted by Ndiaye who set up Sharp who finished clinically.

Despite the setback Latics’ players heads didn’t go down and they rallied. They were denied a penalty in the 64th minute.

Lang did well down the right and his low shot was only partially palmed away by Wes Foderingham. The ball rebounded to Thelo Aasgaard, who saw his strike hit the hand of a defender but referee Dean Whitestone waved away Latics’ appeals for a penalty.

Latics pulled a goal back a minute later when Aasgaard fed McClean, whose low cross was spilled by Foderingham, and Broadhead was able to tap home from close range.

Latics then pushed for the equaliser, and substitute Ashley Fletcher almost grabbed it in the 85th minute. Power found Fletcher stretching at the near post, but his shot was deflected just wide of the post.

Latics put the Blades under sustained pressure in the closing minutes but they were unable to make the vital breakthrough and Toure’s first home game ended in defeat.

Overview

In the first half Latics had come up against a confident in-form team whose physicality and high press caused all kinds of problems. If it was not for some excellent goalkeeping from Jamie Jones and some last ditch defending the game could’ve been over by half time.

However, Latics once again tried to play through the thirds and created several good opportunities against tough opponents.

It was a much better second half performance and on another day and with a little luck they might have been awarded a penalty and gained a creditable draw.

It’s still very early days for Toure and his coaching team but despite the defeat there was plenty for the manager to build on from the game. The team are playing good football and showing plenty of energy, but they still require some strengthening in key positions.  

It was good to see Ryan Nyambe return to the team but the injury to last season’s player of the year Jack Whatmough is a big worry after already losing Jason Kerr for the season. Substitute Rarmani Edmonds-Green did well against Sheffield United but Latics are now very thin in defensive positions. It is imperative that Latics add reinforcements in the January transfer window.

Next up another tough looking trip to Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Toure believes that his side’s display against the Blades in the second half will provide them with a solid platform to build from in the coming games over Christmas.

“In the first half, I thought we could’ve done better, and been braver on the ball in my opinion,” he said.

“We conceded from a set-piece, and in the second half, we then gave away the second goal. After that, we played a lot better. We were more confident, both attacking and creating chances.

“I’m really pleased with the second half, but I think we need to make sure that we start the game better.

“(We played against) a team that is in second place at the moment, and they showed their quality. I still believe we could’ve come back into the game, and that is the good thing that we can take away from tonight.

“The team pushed to come back, and the fans were fantastic. They kept pushing the team and we are going to build on that second half.” 

The manager was full of praise for how the Latics supporters backed the boys throughout the 95 minutes.

“The fans are really important for us, with how they keep pushing the team. Tonight, they were very good, and hopefully, we can have more nights like tonight (where they back us all the way), and win more games.”

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 Billy Sharp, John Egan, Kolo Toure, Nathan Broadhead, Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Toure’s first home game ends in defeat – Wigan Athletic 1 Sheffield United 2

  1. Who do you think will go down? I think three from Wigan, Rotherham, Cardiff, Huddersfield, Hull, and my team Blackpool are most likely, but someone like Reading and even Birmingham could be involved.

  2. ianhaspinall says:

    I think any of the bottom seven could go down. Birmingham and Reading will be safe. If I was to pick three to go down it would probably be Huddersfield, Rotherham and Hull. Blackpool and Wigan to be safe 😁

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