Latics are still alive and kicking – Wigan Athletic 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Max Power confidently converted the spot-kick

  • Wigan Athletic gave themselves a Championship lifeline when they recorded their first win in nine games with a 1-0 victory against Queens Park Rangers at the DW Stadium.
  • The hosts were ahead after only six minutes when former Latic Leon Balogun brought down Daniel Sinani in the box and Max Power confidently converted the spot-kick.
  • Latics keeper Ben Amos did well to deny Kenneth Paal in injury time but Latics deserved the three points and Rangers have now been dragged into the relegation dogfight.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table after a three point deduction from the EFL and they are effectively six points from safety due to their inferior goal difference. Rangers are in 19th place and are two points above the drop zone.

Shaun Maloney made four changes from the draw at Watford with Jack Whatmough, Omar Rekik, Callum Lang and Ashley Fletcher all coming into the starting line-up in place of Ryan Nyambe, Steven Caulker, Tom Naylor, and Will Keane.

It was a bright start by Latics and they were ahead after only six minutes. Sinani drove forward into the right hand channel and was brought down by Balogun after he went into the box.

Power took the spot-kick in the absence of usual penalty taker Keane, and he made no mistake with the penalty, powering the ball into top corner for his first-ever goal in the Championship.

The visitors tried to respond when Ethan Laird pulled the ball back to Chris Willock from the right-hand side, but Ben Amos was on hand to gather the effort at the second attempt.

Willock crossed for Chris Martin soon afterwards but the striker’s looping header went over the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick.

Following a period of Rangers pressure, Latics started to regain the ascendancy.

First, Power had a free-kick from the left of the penalty area saved by goalkeeper Seny Dieng, before Tendayi Darikwa headed over the crossbar after Fletcher set up the chance.

Sinani went down with an injury on the half hour mark and was replaced by Thelo Aasgaard. But the hosts continued to press forward and they went close when Lang’s deflected cross had to be superbly pushed away by Dieng.

Rangers manager Gareth Ainsworth made an attacking change at half-time with Ilias Chair replacing defender Jimmy Dunne. The Moroccan international almost immediately had an impact when he set up Martin who was denied by a close range Amos save.

The dangerous Chair threatened again soon afterwards when his free-kick was tipped away by Amos at full stretch for a corner.

Latics held firm despite Rangers attempts to get back into the game.

Tom Naylor was introduced in the 65th minute to strengthen the midfield after Lang was withdrawn.

It was a tense final period as both teams were desperate for the vital three points.

With five minutes remaining Fletcher was almost played through by Naylor, but Dieng recognised the danger early and kicked the ball into touch.

In six minutes of added time there were chances at both ends. First, Amos came to Latics’ rescue when he produced a superb finger-tip save to deny Paal’s dipping effort.

At the other end, James McClean nearly added to Latics lead when his low effort was parried wide by Dieng, after a quick counter-attack.

There was huge relief for Latics players and fans at full-time as they had secured a rare victory in their fight for Championship survival.

The next tests come quickly with Sheffield United away on Easter Friday, and Swansea City at home on Easter Monday.

Overview

This was a crucial result for Maloney’s men in their battle for Championship survival.

It was probably a good time to play QPR who are on a poor run of form having lost five of their last six games under manager Ainsworth.

But Latics have also endured a traumatic few weeks following the late payment of wages and the EFL three point deduction.

It is great credit to the manager and players that despite these off-the-pitch dramas they have been able to fight hard to retain their championship status.

It’s going to be a tall order to survive as they are five points from safety with seven games remaining but Maloney’s men are very much alive and kicking.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking to the media afterwards, Maloney came away from the game with a real feeling of pride after his team gave everything to claim all three points and gain ground on their immediate Championship rivals.

“It’s a very important three points,” he said.

“It’s a brilliant feeling to be standing here after winning the game. I thought we were very good in the first half, and if anything, we could’ve been even more creative with the possession that we had.

“In the second half, I thought we defended brilliantly. We could’ve kept the ball longer and been better on the ball.

“QPR changed tactically at half-time and went really aggressive, putting attacking players on. I thought our mentality was very good, and (while) we had to defend for periods of time, I thought we didn’t give up many chances.”

The important victory – coincided with results elsewhere – meant that Latics moved to within five points of safety, with seven games still to be played between now and the end of the season.

Maloney expressed that while people may have written off Wigan Athletic following the enforced points deduction, they are still alive, and well up for the fight to keep the Football Club in the Championship.

“It feels like a big day today,” he said.

“We know, with the points deduction, it has made it very hard for us.

“I know everyone outside our Club feels like it’s almost impossible, but we’re still alive and there’s still life in us. We’ll go right to the death. 

“It’s the same with every game. We will prepare to win the game, and the difference will be between both boxes. 

“Today in both boxes, I thought we were excellent and it’s back to work tomorrow. Today was definitely a step forward.”

Player ratings

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Advertisement

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Max Power, QPR, Shaun Maloney, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Latics are still alive and kicking – Wigan Athletic 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

  1. At least you probably won’t now finish 24th!

    • ianhaspinall says:

      We’ll have to see. Any idea why we’ve only been allowed 2,000 tickets for Bloomfield Road?

      • There are three schools of thought regarding this:

        1 – it’s just an initial allocation, and more will be made available if/when you sell the 2,000.

        2 – we are restricting the number of away fans from relegation rivals so they don’t help their side beat us in a must win game!

        3 – clubs have to buy away tickets upfront from Blackpool. What with Wigan’s financial problems, it is possible that we are unwilling to relax that ‘rule’ or that Wigan simply cannot stump up the amount needed for a full 3,800 allocation.

  2. It could also be on police advice, but I doubt that.

    • ianhaspinall says:

      Very good mate 😂 The story from our end is that we’ve only been allocated 1,894 and no more tickets will be allocated!

      • My guess therefore is that we are restricting sales to limit the number of fans from relegation rivals. Coventry, Stoke, Rovers, Burnley, and Boro all got a full allocation but Rotherham were restricted to 2,000 – as are Cardiff this week.

      • ianhaspinall says:

        I think that if that’s the case it’s a sad reflection on Blackpool FC. I would be critical of Wigan if they did the same.

      • I’m not disagreeing with you but the club has been a shambles all season, with poor decision making on and off the pitch. The away fans are housed along the whole length of the pitch which seems to give some teams a competitive advantage. I think we have also made it more difficult for Wigan fans to get tickets in home sections by making walk up and advance sales only available to those with a previous purchase history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.