- Wigan Athletic slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Swansea City which all but mathematically condemns them to relegation from the Championship.
- Shaun Maloney adopted an attacking line-up with wingbacks pushed forward and this backfired as Swansea took control in the first half.
- Joel Piroe opening the scoring in the 14th minute and the prolific Dutchman added a second in the 34th minute.
- The visitors might have been out of sight by half-time, but Piroe’s volley thumped against the post.
- Latics rallied a little in the second half but the damage had already been done and the hosts now look destined for a quick return to League One.
- Latics remain bottom and are eight points from safety with five games remaining. Swansea are in now in 14th place.
Shaun Maloney made two changes from their trip to Sheffield United, with Ryan Nyambe and Tom Naylor coming into the starting line-up in place of Omar Rekik and Thelo Aasgaard.
Latics had an early opportunity when Naylor volleyed through a crowd full of bodies to force Andrew Fisher into making a good save down to his right.
James McClean then went close in the fifth minute with a low drive which was cleared off the line by Swans defender Nathan Wood.
The visitors responded and Piroe fired wide from 18 yards out following a pass from former Latic loanee Jay Fulton.
Latics looked very open defensively and Piroe opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Paterson’s left-sided effort deflected into his path, and he finished into the bottom corner from close range.
Latics tried to get back in the game and they nearly forced an equaliser in the 22nd minute through two chances in quick succession.
First, McClean’s corner was parried into Naylor’s path, who saw his close-range effort blocked by a last-ditch challenge from Latibeaudiere.
From the resulting short corner, Max Power’s inviting cross was headed straight at Fisher by Ashley Fletcher.
Just when it looked like the hosts’ might equalise the Swans hit them on the break in the 35th minute.
The Swans attacked down the left and crossed to the right with Ryan Nyambe left exposed, striker Piroe curled a low strike into the far corner.
The Swans almost added a third before the interval when Joe Allen headed over from a wide free-kick, and Piroe volleyed against the woodwork.
Maloney made a double change early in the second half with Thelo Aasgaard and Josh Magennis replacing Tiehi and Fletcher.
Jack Whatmough created an opportunity for Latics when he won the ball high up to start a counter-attack, and set it up for Magennis to strike from the edge of the area, but the striker disappointingly dragged his effort wide of the post.
Will Keane was finally introduced as a 65th-minute substitute for Charlie Hughes, and he almost gave Latics a lifeline seven minutes later when he got on the end of Power’s early ball from the right, but his first-time effort cleared the crossbar.
Latics tried to get back in the game and they came closest in the 77th minute when Aasgaard’s curling strike was tipped over the crossbar by Fisher.
This was the nearest Latics came and the Swans comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to seal the three points.
Realistically all Latics now have to play for is who finishes bottom of the table when they travel for Blackpool on Saturday.
This was abject performance by Latics given the importance of the game. They needed to give it their best shot but they looked like a team who had already given up the ghost.
Maloney had attempted to adopt a more attacking formation but it had backfired. Wingbacks Tendayi Darikwa and McClean had been pushed further forward but this only meant the flanks were exposed and Swansea were able to make the most of their opportunities.
Russell Martin’s team are comfortable on the ball and they were soon able to exploit the Tics vulnerabilities.
Will Keane has been out of form recently but he is still Latics best goal threat and Maloney missed a trick by not selecting him. Ashley Fletcher is a big target man but he has consistently been ineffective with only two goals all season. Callum Lang has only one goal all season and he has failed to live up to his promise in the Championship.
Latics inadequacies on the pitch have been exacerbated by the off-the-field mistakes. Sacking Leam Richardson, appointing Kolo Toure, poor recruitment and mismanagement of the budget have all contributed to the relegation.
Maloney now needs to re-instil a winning mentality in the players – changes will take place in the summer but the club still have a nucleus of quality for next season.
There needs to be some strategic additions with an injection of youth but the club is capable of bouncing back if managed properly. The coaching staff still have much to learn and the ownership group will need to regain the trust of the fans after such a damaging season.
Post match comments
Speaking afterwards Maloney took full responsibility for the defeat and expressed that they have plenty of work to do both on and off the field in order to improve in the coming weeks.
“It was tough,” he said.
“To get beat at home is not something that I never want, but the opponents were very good and kept the possession well.
“I wanted us to be really aggressive, and we were unbeaten at home coming into the game. I don’t want us to defend for 90 minutes in this Stadium.
“Everything that I asked them (the players) to do – they did – and they had to defend in big areas (at times) so I will take responsibility for that result. It shows that we have a lot of work to do on the pitch and a lot of work off it.
“If you let Swansea have the ball, you won’t see it, so we had to be very aggressive to try and stop them playing.
“When we didn’t get it right, they hurt and punished us. This result is on me, as I asked the players to be very aggressive.
“The players have been fantastic for 12 games, and have given me everything, and did everything that I asked them to do.
“It was one of those days where the opponent was better than us. It shows how much work we have to do at this Club to never feel like this again.”
Someone like Piroe can be the difference, especially when given the freedom of the pitch for both goals. It’s been a disastrous season for both of us, and as previously said completely avoidable. Who knows what Saturday will bring; it will be a big ask next season to come back up at the first time of asking.
Yes it’s been disastrous for both teams. I’m optimistic that if we can retain our better players we will have a chance in League One, but I’m taking nothing for granted.