Same old, same old Latics – Wigan Athletic 0 Bristol City 2

Kieffer Moore

Kieffer Moore could be leaving for Cardiff City

Latics dominated Bristol City for most of this game but once again failed to be clinical in the final third and slipped further into relegation trouble as the visitors struck with two late counter-attacks.

The hosts dominated possession and played plenty of good football up to the final third but their lack of a goalscorer proved to be their downfall.

With the match finely balanced at 0-0 Latics went in search of the breakthrough but it was the visitors who broke quickly and Jamie Paterson produced a neat finish through David Marshall’s legs. Soon afterwards Paterson turned provider lifting the ball into the path of Famara Diedhiou who decisively found the corner of the net.

Latics drop a place to second bottom in the Championship table while Bristol City move up to ninth.

Paul Cook made two changes from the team which won away at Birmingham City with David Marshall and Kieran Dowell coming in for Jamie Jones and Michael Jacobs. A fit again Kieffer Moore was surprisingly not named in the match day squad and young striker Joe Gelhardt once again took up his place on the bench.

Latics started strongly and quickly took control of possession but found it difficult to penetrate in the final third.

Chances were few and far between but Joe Williams had a goalbound effort well blocked and Josh Windass had a deflected shot saved by Dan Bentley.

Diedhiou headed over from six yards out and he also had a goal disallowed for offside as the visitors threatened on the break.

Early in the second-half Dowell, who made a very promising home debut, forced a good save from Bentley.

Soon afterwards, Dowell crossed for Nathan Byrne but the full back headed wide of the target.

Windass then saw an effort saved by Bentley before Diedhiou volleyed towards the top corner and Marshall produced a spectacular save tipping the ball over the crossbar.

Cook made a double substitution on 68 minutes with Gelhardt and Joe Garner replacing Windass and Joe Williams.

Dowell was proving to be the creative force that Latics have been lacking and he created another chance on 72 minutes when he crossed for Garner but the striker’s header was well saved low down by Bentley.

Gelhardt was quickly in the thick of the action and causing problems for the City backline. He fired an excellent strike just inches over the crossbar on 76 minutes.

But in pressing for the breakthrough Latics left themselves exposed on the break and City executed a slick counter attack.

Paterson broke through from midfield and finished confidently past Marshall on 77 minutes.

As per usual when Latics go behind the players heads go down, and two minutes later the visitors doubled their lead when Paterson lobbed the ball in to the path of Diedhiou who finished into the corner of the net.

Latics had a quick opportunity to get a goal back as Garner headed into the path of Jamal Lowe, but the winger just couldn’t finish under pressure from Ashley Williams.

Lowe had another opportunity later on when he headed tamely at Bentley. The close season signing from Portsmouth had once again failed to impress and it is surely time for him to be rested.

It was another frustrating afternoon for Latics who had played well up to the final third but lack a cutting edge where it matters.

Latics are the lowest scorers in the Championship and it is obvious where they must improve but the manager has consistently failed to address the problem.

Cook’s decision not to include striker Moore in the team was surprising and the manager’s refusal to start Gelhardt continues to be baffling.

Cardiff City have reportedly had a transfer bid for Moore turned down and this may partly explain his exclusion. But surely if Cook wants to keep Moore, as he says, he should use him in the team.

It therefore seems likely that the manager is prepared to sell Moore for the right fee and he will leave before the end of the transfer window. If that is the case Latics must quickly find a replacement striker as well integrating Gelhardt into the team.

Posted in Bristol City, Championship, Famara Diedhiou, Jamie Paterson, Joe Gelhardt, Kieffer Moore, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FA Cup exit but signs of promise – Leicester City 2 Wigan Athletic 0

Kieran Dowell made a promising debut

Latics produced a commendable performance against Premier League Leicester City at the King Power Stadium but slipped out of the FA Cup 2-0 at the Third Round stage.

The visitors started well but young full back Tom Pearce making his debut put into his own net after 19 minutes and after that it was always going to be an uphill struggle.

Harvey Barnes added a second via a deflection off Chey Dunkley just before the interval but Latics were not overrun in the second half and were unlucky not to pull a goal back when Jamal Lowe’s neat finish was ruled out for a marginal offside by VAR.

This was Latics’ first experience of the Video Assistant Referee and it is not something they will be looking forward to, if it continues in its current format.

The Foxes made 10 changes to the their starting line up from their previous game but Paul Cook also made six changes with new loan signing Kieran Dowell coming straight into the team for his debut. Left back Pearce also made his debut, whilst David Marshall, Dujon Sterling, Chey Dunkley and Gavin Massey also came in. Teenage striker Joe Gelhardt was once again left on the bench by the manager.

Latics were not overawed by second placed Foxes who have a League Cup semi final in midweek but the pace and creativity of the hosts was quickly on display as Dunkley made a good block from Marc Albrighton.

Marshall then denied Demarai Gray from 20 yards with a good save but on 19 minutes the Foxes were ahead as Albrighton crossed and Pearce got his feet in a tangle and put the ball into his own net. It was a very unfortunate moment for the young Ormskirk born defender on his Latics debut.

Despite the setback Latics remained competitive and they had a chance to open the scoring on 40 minutes as Massey’s cross found Dowell and the loanee’s effort was blocked by James Justin.

But the Foxes counter attacked quickly and Chilwell played in Barnes, who finished via a deflection off Dunkley.

Josh Windass continues to frustrate for Latics, often getting into good positions but failing to be clinical in front of goal.

On this occasion he got on the end of a Pearce cross but he couldn’t make it count.

In the second-half, Latics continued to probe but Leicester always looked dangerous on the counter attack and Dennis Praet headed wide from an Albrighton cross.

Latics looked to have pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining of normal time but although Lowe produced an excellent finish from a Pearce delivery VAR ruled the goal out for the most fractional offside.  Surely something will have to be done to amend the offside rule if VAR becomes the norm. At the current time VAR is killing the spirit of the game.

Marshall denied Gray and Barnes in the final minutes but Latics had put in a good performance against a team who have strength in depth and are likely to be in the Champions League next season.

Latics have produced some improved performances in recent weeks, with the addition of Dowell and if Gelhardt is given his chance, the prospects of Latics pulling away from the Championship relegation zone are looking much better.

Posted in FA Cup, Harvey Barnes, Kieren Dowell, Tom Pearce, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A win at last – Birmingham City 2 Wigan Athletic 3

Cedric Kipre Cedric Kipre bundled home Latics’ third goal

Wigan Athletic ended a 15 game winless run and won their first away game since April last year when they defeated Birmingham City at St. Andrew’s.

Latics went ahead when a move involving Anthony Robinson and Joe Williams resulted in an easy tap in for Josh Windass. But the Blues equalised before half time when Kerim Mrabti fired home from an acute angle.

In the 50th-minute Windass’ cross was turned into his own net by Gary Gardner to restore the visitors lead before Cedric Kipre extended the advantage on 73 minutes when he bundled home a corner.

Latics never make it easy though and Jacques Maghoma pulled a goal back to make it a nervous final 10 minutes but despite some late scares they held on for a rare away victory.

Latics move up to third from the bottom of the Championship table while the Blues are in 18th spot just six points above the drop.

Paul Cook made one change from the defeat against Nottingham Forest with Michael Jacobs replacing Gavin Massey.

The visitors had an early scare when Lukas Jutkiewicz headed wide from a corner.

But they were ahead on nine minutes when Robinson battled to win the ball on the edge of the area and Williams crossed for Windass to tap in at the back post.

Latics should’ve gone further ahead when Kal Naismith found Nathan Byrne free in the box but the full back blazed over the crossbar at the back post.

At the other end Jeremie Bela had a shot spilled by Jones but fortunately for Latics the Blues couldn’t capitalise.

But the hosts did draw level just before the break as Mrabti produced an excellent finish from a tight angle.

Early in the second half Lee Evans found  Windass who rounded the keeper before firing in a cross from a tight angle which Gardner diverted into his own net.

Birmingham should have equalised soon afterwards but former Latic Josh McEachran fired wide of the target from the edge of the box.

But it was Latics who increased their lead when Windass’ corner was headed on by Evans and Kipre bundled the ball home at the back post.

Latics should’ve been comfortable now but their usual difficulty in seeing out a game reappeared.

It was to be a nervy last 15 minutes as the Blues substitute Maghoma scored as Latics failed to clear in the penalty area.

Jamie Jones then produced an outstanding save to deny Raul Giminez an equaliser at his near post.

Latics somehow survived the late scares and they hung on for their first away three points since the win at Leeds United on 19 April 2019.

Incredibly Latics’ last three away victories have come in three different years 2018, 2019 and now 2020.

The 511 supporters who travelled to St Andrew’s deserve great credit and this result should be dedicated to every one of them.

But Latics are still in trouble and this victory shouldn’t be allowed to mask the manager’s and team’s failings.

With the score at 2-1 to Latics Cook brought on the 35-year-old Gary Roberts for Michael Jacobs, when the obvious replacement would’ve been Joe Gelhardt who had been so outstanding as a substitute against Nottingham Forest.

Cook continues to defy all logic by denying the talented Gelhardt a starting place in the team.

Latics continue to struggle at set-pieces and with their game management, despite having 3-1 lead they could easily have drawn or even lost this game as Birmingham wasted some very good opportunities in the last 15 minutes.

Windass managed to get on the scoresheet against Birmingham but the forwards are not scoring enough and the team do not have a regular goalscorer in the team.

Posted in Cedric Kipre, Championship, Gary Gardner, Jacques Maghoma, Josh Windass, Kerim Mrabti, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deja vu as Latics’ dominance comes to nothing – Nottingham Forest 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Paul Cook

Wigan Athletic produced a dominant performance away at Nottingham Forest but once again went down to a set-piece sucker punch and remain bottom of the Championship table.

The visitors dominated possession and created numerous chances before Forest went ahead when Tobias Figueiredo was allowed to head home unchallenged from a corner in the 60th minute.

Latics were awarded a penalty in the 77th minute when substitute Joe Gelhardt was brought down in the box by Alfa Semedo but Josh Windass’ tame penalty was easily saved by Brice Samba. Soon afterwards the visitors had another penalty appeal turned down when former Latic Ben Watson handled Samy Morsy’s effort in the area.

Latics had the opportunities to equalise but their inability to be clinical in the final third enabled Forest to take a fortunate three points.

Forest move up to fifth while Latics remain rooted to the bottom of the Championship table.

Paul Cook made two changes from the team which had drawn 1-1 with Derby County on Boxing Day with Joe Williams and Gavin Massey replacing Anthony Pilkington and Michael Jacobs.

Latics started strongly, enjoying plenty of possession and producing some neat passing sequences. Forest struggled to gain a foothold despite home advantage.

The visitors first chance came on 19 minutes when Antonee Robinson got forward down the left hand side and crossed for Jamal Lowe but the striker couldn’t quite make the vital contact with his head.

Latics went close again on 28 minutes when Robinson’s cross found Williams at the near post and the midfielder’s flick crashed against the post and away to safety.

Forest were offering surprisingly little going forward and it was the visitors who were controlling the game.

As Latics continued to control the first half, they had another good opportunity when Williams right footed shot was well saved by Samba low down at his near post.

Forest’s only chance of the first half came when Lewis Grabban headed narrowly wide from a good position.

All square at the interval but Latics were crying out for a finisher to capitalise on their excellent approach play. Surely young striker Gelhardt would get his chance from the bench? But Cook didn’t make any changes at the interval.

Latics had a glorious opportunity go ahead on 58 minutes when Nathan Byrne broke quickly and outstripped the Forest defence before facing a one-on-one with Samba but the full back showed little conviction and fired wide of the target.

Two minutes later Latics were behind as Figueiredo was allowed to rise unchallenged at the near post and angle his header into the far corner of the net.

Gary Roberts replaced Massey on 62 minutes but still no sign of Gelhardt who was the obvious replacement.

When Gelhardt did finally emerge as a substitute for Lee Evans on 77 minutes he immediately made an impact.

Gelhardt went straight for the jugular dribbling into the area and was brought down by Semedo.

A fantastic opportunity for Latics to draw level but Windass’ poor spot kick was easily saved by Samba low down to his left.

Despite the massive setback Latics continued to be on top with Gelhardt at the centre of their best moves.

The 17-year-old England international’s tight control enabled him to glide into the box past several defenders before setting up Robinson whose final shot was deflected into the side netting.

A few minutes later the ball fell to Morsy on the edge of the area and the midfielder’s goal bound effort was handled by the onrushing Watson. Latics’ players surrounded referee Matt Donohue but the official harshly decided against a second penalty.

Gelhardt continued to threaten but time ran out for Latics and the youngster as they suffered yet another desperately disappointing away defeat.

Latics’ failings are for all to see but manager Cook has consistently failed to address the problems.

The manager’s reluctance to start Gelhardt is now beyond comprehension. The Young England international not only creates chances but he is a prolific finisher and it is obvious to everyone, apart from Cook, that he should play.

Latics defensive organisation has generally improved with Cedric Kipre and Kal Naismith at the centre of defence but the team have consistently conceded from set-pieces and this should have been addressed by the manager.

Windass shouldn’t take penalties. The former Rangers striker has been unable to find his scoring boots while at Latics and his pitiful spot kicks have twice proved very costly for the team. As at Millwall last season Windass was guilty of a desperately poor penalty kick when it mattered so much. He should be taken off penalty duty from now on.

Latics remain rock bottom of the Championship table, they have not won away since April and have now gone 13 games without a victory, few managers would still be in a job with such a terrible record.

Posted in Championship, Josh Windass, Nottingham Forest, Paul Cook, Tobias Figueiredo, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wasteful Latics suffer another late sickener – Wigan Athletic 1 Derby County 1

Joe Garner

Joe Garner

Wigan Athletic once again succumbed to the obligatory late goal and have now failed to win in their last 12 matches.

Latics had dominated proceedings against an out-of-form Derby County and had deservedly taken an 81st minute lead through substitute Joe Garner. But with 93 minutes on the clock Latics failed to clear from a throw in and Martyn Waghorn fired home the equaliser to sour the home fans’ day.

This was Latics fourth draw in four games and they have now dropped to the bottom of the table on goals scored after Stoke beat Sheffield Wednesday, Derby remain 17th just six points above the relegation zone.

Paul Cook made one change to his starting eleven from the draw with Blackburn with Anthony Pilkington replacing Gavin Massey.

Latics started on the front foot and were able to create several good goal scoring opportunities against the lacklustre visitors.

Nathan Byrne forced a good save from Ben Hamer before Antonee Robinson hit the near post with Hamer well beaten.

Josh Windass then had a glorious opportunity after an excellent set-piece routine but the striker fired straight at the Derby keeper from close range.

In a rare sortie forward Curtis Davies had a great opportunity for the Rams but he directed his header into the ground and Jamie Jones was able to save comfortably.

Windass was finding plenty of space behind the Derby defence but his final shot was disappointingly well wide of the target.

All square at the break but Latics had had he better chances to be ahead.

Latics were again on top in the second half and Windass frustrated the home fans with a poor pass across the penalty area with Pilkington in prime position to turn the ball home.

Michael Jacobs then forced another good save from Hamer with the hosts looking the most likely to break the deadlock.

On 64 minutes Cook replaced the ineffective Windass and Pilkington with Garner and Joe Williams and Latics moved up another gear.

With Williams pulling the strings in midfield the hosts pushed Derby further back and after a sustained attacking spell Garner was able to acrobatically volley home from close range.

It looked as though it would be enough to take all three points but Latics’ Achilles heel is their inability to see out the game and they conceded their obligatory late goal when former Latic Martyn Waghorn fired home despite the best efforts of Cedric Kipre on the goal line.

It was a disappointing ending to what had been a pleasing performance.

Poor game management, failure to defend set-pieces and strange substitutions are all factors in the late goals conceded.

However, Latics have shown noticeable improvement over the last four games by returning to an attractive passing game.

The long ball has been eschewed and building through the thirds has been a pleasure to see.

The combination of Kipre and Kal Naismith has enabled the team to play out from the back and to build through midfield.

Full backs Robinson and Byrne have been able to get forward to create crossing opportunities and Latics have created plenty of chances although problems arise in the final third were the forwards have been profligate.

Latics do not currently have a goalscorer in the team. Windass, Lowe, Jacobs were all wasteful against Derby and have consistently failed to make their chances count this season.

Cook’s reluctance to give prolific young striker Joe Gelhardt his opportunity seems increasingly ridiculous when the team are struggling for goals.

It appears that Cook will remain as manager in the January transfer window which could be so crucial to their chances of survival.

A proven goalscorer at this level is now essential if Latics are to convert the chances they are creating.

Posted in Championship, Derby County, Joe Garner, Martyn Waghorn, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Not a Christmas classic – Blackburn Rovers 0 Wigan Athletic 0

Sammy Morsy

Samy Morsy went close for Latics

Wigan Athletic will be pleased to move off the bottom of the Championship table for Christmas but it wasn’t a classic encounter in the 0-0 draw with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

The omens were not good prior to the game with the visitors at rock bottom against a Blackburn team who had been in very good form but Latics had the better chances on the night.

Josh Windass, Michael Jacobs, Samy Morsy and Cedric Kipre all had good opportunities to put Latics ahead although Rovers Danny Graham hit the bar and Lewis Holtby forced a good save from Jamie Jones.

Latics move above Stoke City and Rovers move up to eighth in the Championship table.

Under pressure manager Paul Cook named an unchanged team from the draw against Huddersfield Town with Kal Naismith and Kipre remaining as the centre back partnership.

The visitors started brightly and had several very good early chances. First, Gavin Massey’s cross was headed wide by Windass.

Soon afterwards, Jamal Lowe set up Jacobs on the edge of the area but the winger fired straight at Christian Walton from a good position.

Windass then had another great opportunity but after finding space he blazed high over the crossbar.

Rovers responded on the hour mark and Jones was forced into his first important save from a Darragh Lenihan header following a corner.

But Latics were still having the better of it and Lee Evans saw his header saved by Walton at the back post.

All level at the interval with Latics on top against a surprisingly subdued Rovers.

Early in the second half Naismith found Lowe with a long pass but the striker was wasteful with his effort from 25 yards.

Rovers best chance of the game came when Danny Graham’s angled header came back off the crossbar from Adam Armstrong’s right wing cross.

At the other end Morsy saw his shot heading for the top corner but it was well pushed away by Walton. Following the corner, Kipre headed powerfully on target but again it was well saved by the Rovers keeper.

Rovers suffered a setback on 68 minutes when they lost Bradley Dack to a serious knee injury after an innocuous challenge by Morsy.

Latics had further chances to take all three points when Morsy went through on goal but Derrick Williams was able to slide in to deny him.

Finally Windass’ excellent curled cross nearly found Lowe but the former Portsmouth striker couldn’t quite make contact at the back post.

Rovers substitute Lewis Holtby fired straight at Jones from a good position but the game ended all square with Latics taking most of the plaudits after an improved away showing.

Incredibly this was Latics first clean sheet in 33 matches. It was a very solid defensive display but they will need wins if they are to escape the drop.

Once again they lacked a cutting edge in the final third. They are the lowest scorers in the Championship and unless forwards Lowe, Jacobs, Massey and Windass start to find the net they will be relegated.

Posted in Blackburn Rovers, Bradley Dack, Championship, Paul Cook, Sam Morsy, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A point gained or three points lost? Wigan Athletic 1 Huddersfield Town 1

Josh Windass Josh Windass

Relegation threatened Wigan Athletic were held to a 1-1 draw by fellow Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town at the DW Stadium.

Latics went in search of the three points after a nine game winless run and took the lead on 43 minutes when Josh Windass produced a cool finish following a mistake by keeper Kamil Grabara.

The hosts were dominant in the first half and had the chances to increase their lead, and they might’ve doubled their advantage in the second half when Windass was again in the clear but this time Grabara made a vital save.

Latics failure to capitalise on their dominance proved crucial as the Terriers equalised with a superb strike from Karlan Grant on 70 Minutes.

Both teams spurned chances in the latter stages and Latics had to settle for a point in their battle against relegation.

Latics remain in 23rd spot while Huddersfield stay in 19th in the Championship table.

Paul Cook retained the same starting eleven from the midweek draw with West Brom.

Latics made the early running and Windass produced a dangerous low cross which was scrambled away by the Terriers.

The hosts under strength defence was performing admirably with Cedric Kipre and Kal Naismith looking comfortable in the centre.

When Huddersfield did breakthrough Grant fired straight at Jamie Jones after he was set up by Juninho Bacuna.

With half time approaching Latics were gifted the lead when Windass calmly finished after intercepting Grabara’s poor clearance.

Early in the second half Windass had a chance to double Latics’ advantage when he nearly capitalised on another mistake by Josh Simpson but this time Grabara was able to make the crucial stop.

At the other end Jones was called into action as he saved at the second attempt from Bacuna’s long range effort.

The Terriers drew level in the 70th minute after Grant cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Windass then had another good opportunity but this time his low drive from the edge of the box found the side netting.

Both teams had opportunities to win it in the latter stages. The Terriers substitute Steve Mounie had a goal bound header cleared off the line by Jamal Lowe.

Substitute Anthony Pilkington came close to giving Latics the winner but Jon Gorenc Stankovic’s late interception denied the hosts the three points they so desperately craved.

In the last two games Cook has eschewed the long ball tactics of this season and selected a team to out pass their opponents.

It has proved to be a positive move with two improved performances but their failure to be clinical in the final third is proving to be their Achilles heel.

Latics invested in strikers Kieffer Moore and Jamal Lowe for £5.5m but they have only managed three goals between them.

The club’s other forwards Josh Windass, Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey, Joe Garner, Anthony Pilkington and the ‘time limited’ Joe Gelhardt have eight goals between them.

In comparison the Terriers striker Karlan Grant has 12 goals to his name which is more than all of Latics attacking players put together.

The lack of a proven goal scorer is likely to be their downfall in an expensively funded division.

Despite Latics’ downward trajectory the board have shown no sign of sacking Cook, so it looks as though he will take the club into the New Year.

If this is the case it will be interesting to see what resources he will be given in the January transfer window as they look to protect their Championship status.

Posted in Championship, Huddersfield Town, Josh Windass, Karlan Grant, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment