Tics tonic in title race – Wigan Athletic 4 Morecambe 1

Will Keane

Will Keane scored his 20th goal of the season.

  • Wigan Athletic closed the gap on League One leaders Rotherham with an emphatic 4-1 victory against strugglers Morecambe at the DW Stadium.
  • Latics went ahead in the 19th minute when  Tendayi Darikwa’s cross was superbly headed into the net by Josh Magennis.
  • The hosts added a second just before half-time when Jason Kerr poked the ball home from close range after James McClean’s corner was flicked on by Tom Naylor.
  • Latics started the second-half sluggishly and Morecambe pulled a goal back from the penalty spot when Dylan Connolly converted after Jack Whatmough was adjudged to have handled Cole Stockton’s shot inside the area.
  • The hosts sealed the three points with goals in the 67th and 68th minutes. Will Keane grabbed his 20th goal of the season, heading home from Naylor’s header before Stephen Humphrys volleyed past Dundee United loanee keeper Trevor Carson from inside the area.
  • Latics are now one point behind leaders Rotherham with two games in hand and are three points ahead of third place MK Dons with two games in hand. Morecambe  are in 22nd place and are three points from safety.

Leam Richardson made one change from Tuesday’s 2-0 victory at Crewe Alexandra with McClean returning from his suspension to replace Joe Bennett.

The manager adopted a 3-4-1-2 formation with Magennis and Humphrys up top with Keane just behind them.

Latics started in confident mood and were quickly creating chances.

Naylor crossed for Keane at the far post but the Republic of Ireland international’s header cleared the crossbar from a good position.

The impressive Naylor then found McClean whose low cross just evaded Humphrys at the back post.

McClean then delivered a superb free-kick for Kerr but goalkeeper Carson saved the centre-back’s headed effort.

Latics were deservedly ahead in the 19th minute when Magennis’ scored his second goal for the club after netting his first in midweek against Crewe.

Darikwa’s right wing cross was superbly glanced into the corner of the net from the edge of the six-yard box by the former Hull City striker.

Latics had a lucky escape when Cooney’s right-sided cross was sliced goalwards by Whatmough but fortunately it just went out for a corner.

Morecambe threatened again soon afterwards and Aaron Wildig’s effort from inside the box hit Ben Amos and went behind for another corner.

The prolific Stockton then hit a volley from 25-yards out but his effort took a deflection and went just over the crossbar.

Latics responded and Humphrys created an opportunity for himself and then hit a powerful strike, but Carson did well to get down low and tip the ball behind for a corner. 

Just before half-time Latics doubled their lead through Kerr. McClean’s corner was headed across goal by Naylor and the former St. Johnstone defender poked the ball home at the far post for his first league goal for Latics.

The hosts were slow out of the blocks at the beginning of the second-half and the visitors were awarded a penalty in the 47th minute after Stockton’s shot from inside the penalty area was adjudged to have struck the hand of Whatmough.

Connolly converted the spot kick to give the Shrimps hopes of a comeback.

But Latics wanted to restore their advantage and Humphrys did well to create space before curling an effort wide of the far post.

Humphrys was then unlucky to see his powerful goal bound strike from the edge of the area pushed away by Carson.

Curtis Tilt had an opportunity when he acrobatically tried his luck from the edge of the area but his volley was well held by Carson.

Latics’ pressure told in the 67th minute when Darikwa’s cross was headed back across goal by Naylor and Keane was able to head home from very close range.

Just a minute later Humphrys sealed the three points for the hosts with a powerful volley into the bottom corner.

Latics should have added more to their goal tally and they had a great chance to make it five when Keane was through on goal following a one-two with Humphrys but after rounding the goalkeeper, he unfortunately slipped and the chance went begging.

Ultimately they ran out comfortable winners and with news that leaders Rotherham had lost at home to Shrewsbury it was a particularly pleasing day for everyone at the club.

Richardson will be ensuring that the players do not be get ahead of themselves with regard to promotion, but with nine games remaining and with games in hand they are now in a very strong position to go on to win the league one title.

League One Table

Richardson speaking to the media afterwards said,

“It was a pleasing and professional performance,”

“We spoke at the start of the week about going into another three-game week on the back of nine consecutive weeks of playing Saturday to Tuesday. Starting with MK Dons, going into a difficult game at Crewe on Tuesday night, to then meeting Morecambe here, who are facing their own challenges.

“It was never going to be easy and we had to work for the openings. We hoped that our quality would come through and I’m really pleased with the lads’ appetite and professionalism today. 

“I thought we started the game excellently well and possibly then came off what we were doing to be so good, and started to make different decisions around the pitch.

“We spoke at half-time about the professionalism because things can change on a decision as we’ve seen with the penalty. I was pleased with how the lads took over the game after that.

“We’ve got a lot of senior lads on the pitch to manage situations and the pleasing thing was after Morecambe’s goal is that we controlled the game and got another couple of goals.”

Following this afternoon’s 4-1 victory over Morecambe, Latics will have a two-week window to rest and regroup ahead of the visit of Bolton Wanderers on Saturday 2 April.

Richardson said the break is a well-earned one after the shift that has been put in by both the players and the supporters over the last nine weeks.

“It’s been a really good shift from the players but not only the players and the staff, but also the fans,” he said.

“To travel nine consecutive weeks both home and away is some effort and it will be a well-earned break for ourselves and the fans, but it will also give us a chance to get some real quality work in.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Dylan Connolly, Jason Kerr, Josh Magennis, League Cup, Leam Richardson, Morecambe, Stephen Humphrys, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics stay on track at Crewe – Crewe Alexandra 0 Wigan Athletic 2

Josh Magennis got off the mark at Crewe. Photo courtesy of Wigan Athletic.

  • Wigan Athletic maintained their push for automatic promotion with a 2-0 victory at bottom club Crewe Alexandra.
  • Latics went ahead in the 43rd minute when Josh Magennis scored his first goal for the club with a near post header from Max Power’s free-kick.
  • The visitors added to their lead in the 53rd minute when Curtis Tilt and Joe Bennett combined well and Bennett’s cross was headed home at the back post by Will Keane.
  • The hosts enjoyed more possession in the second half but were unable to trouble goalkeeper Ben Amos and the visitors ran out comfortable winners.
  • Latics are now four points behind leaders Rotherham with two games in hand and are three points ahead of third place MK Dons with two games in hand. Crewe remain bottom of the table and are nine points from safety.

Leam Richardson made three changes to the team which started against MK Dons on Saturday with captain Tendayi Darikwa, Joe Bennett and Josh Magennis replacing Tom Pearce, Gavin Massey and the suspended Callum Lang.

Latics adopted a 3-4-2-1 formation as they had done on Saturday but with Darikwa and Bennett as the wing-backs. 

The visitors started very strongly and Magennis forced a corner in the first minute. Three minutes later the Northern Ireland international had a great chance to open the scoring when he was through on goal but the referees assistant flagged for offside. A minute later Darikwa’s fierce strike from the edge of the area was well pushed away by Crewe keeper Dave Richards.

The hosts responded and some sloppy defending allowed Callum Ainley a strike on goal which was superbly saved by Amos. Soon afterwards Rekeem Harper curled an effort just over Amos’ crossbar from 25-yards out.

On a bumpy surface both teams resorted to the long ball in an attempt to break the deadlock. 

A Bennett free-kick from the left was headed over by Keane inside the box on the half hour mark as Latics started to assert their passing game.

Stephen Humphrys did brilliantly to evade several defenders close attention before crossing into the penalty area but his delivery didn’t quite reach Magennis. Another Bennett free-kick from the edge of the area was then well saved by Richards at his near post on 38 minutes.

Five minutes later and Latics were ahead when Magennis scored his first goal for the club since joining from Hull City in the January transfer window. Power chipped a delicate free-kick into the area and Magennis rose to head home at the near post.

Latics started the second half as strongly as they had done in the first and they doubled their lead on 53 minutes. Tilt and Bennett combined well down the left hand side and Bennett’s cross was headed into the net by Keane who rose highest at the back post.

The game then became quite scrappy for a period before Latics had another chance on 67 minutes when Humphrys cut the ball back to Darikwa but the Zimbabwean’s low drive was deflected narrowly wide of the target.

Bennett was replaced as the left wing-back by Tom Pearce on 68 minutes and Humphrys was replaced by Gwion Edwards on 77 minutes with Saturday’s game against Morecambe in mind.

As the clock ticked down Crewe were enjoying more possession but Latics’ keeper Amos wasn’t really troubled and the visitors sealed another important three points in their pursuit of automatic promotion.

It was another workmanlike and professional performance by Latics and it is to their great credit that despite injuries and suspensions they have been able to maintain their momentum during an intensive series of games. 

Speaking to the media afterwards, Richardson said:

“[It was] very professional; we knew it was going to be a healthy challenge for us.

“With the challenges that Crewe are facing, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game so we had to come and be professional around the pitch and do the simple things well tonight.

“It was a different game to Saturday and you have to be flexible, it was commendable that the lads took the information in and carried it out.

“We were a functioning team tonight; in my opinion, there are different ways to win a game, you can play different formations – people will debate formations – but within that it’s the philosophy and tonight it was important we got the performance from the group, and I thought to a man they were commendable.”

Josh Magennis got his first goal for the club, and while delighted for the frontman, Richardson was keen to respect the calibre of player and his all round game.

“It’s brilliant for Josh; I was asked the same questions about Charlie Wyke and Stephen Humphrys and these lads score goals.

“They have scored goals for years, Josh will continue to score goals for us, he leads the line, was excellent tonight and is fantastic around the place. He’s a great person and his performances will show that.

“The goal was a great ball in from Max, great movement and a great header and it puts us on our way.

“Again, the second goal was a fantastic ball from Joe [Bennett] and Keano [Will Keane] goes in those areas where Keano goes, and it becomes a good habit for him. The goal put us into that position then where we could control the game a lot more and defend in a lower press and break from there.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Crewe Alexandra, Josh Magennis, League One, Leam Richardson, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics strengthen their position – MK Dons 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Latics go close

  • Wigan Athletic strengthened their position in the race for automatic promotion with an important point at MK Dons.
  • After sustained pressure Latics deservedly went ahead in the 58th minute when Tom Naylor produced a composed finish past Dons keeper Jamie Cumming.
  • It looked as though Latics would take the three points but with two minutes remaining Scott Twine’s corner was headed home by Harry Darling.
  • Latics are now four points behind leaders Rotherham with two games in hand and are above third place MK Dons on goal difference with three games in hand.

Leam Richardson made three changes to the starting eleven from last Saturday’s victory against AFC Wimbledon with Jason Kerr, Tom Pearce and Gavin Massey replacing Glen Rea, Joe Bennett and Gwion Edwards.

Latics adopted a 3-4-2-1 formation with Kerr, Jack Whatmough & Curtis Tilt as the back three and Massey and Pearce as wing-backs.

Latics were the first to go close when Massey’s right wing cross nearly found Stephen Humphrys but the striker couldn’t quite make the vital contact with his head.

MK Dons tried to get their usual passing game going but Latics were winning the midfield battles and the hosts were unable to threaten Ben Amos.

In the 39th minute Callum Lang was unlucky to pick up his 10th booking of the season from erratic referee Bobby Madley for an innocuous foul and will now receive a two match suspension.

Latics went close just before the half time break when Max Power’s dangerous free-kick just evaded both Tilt and Will Keane in the six-yard box.

Humphrys then produced a superb through ball to set up Lang but the striker’s touch let him down and the Dons keeper was able to collect.

Latics were in the ascendancy now and they started the second half strongly. Power tried his luck from 25-yards out but his strike was deflected narrowly wide of the post.

Latics’ pressure eventually told and they took the lead following a corner through Tom Naylor. Pearce’s effort from outside the box deflected into the path of Naylor inside the penalty area and the midfielder showed great composure to take a touch before side footing into the bottom corner.

The hosts appealed for offside but the referee’s assistant was unmoved and the decidedly dodgy referee Bobby Madley for once ruled in Latics’ favour.

The visitors continued to look comfortable and they seemed to be heading towards victory, but with only few minutes remaining they conceded a series of corners and from the third successive corner Darling got in front of Amos to head the equaliser.

It was frustrating to concede so late in the game but beforehand most of Latics’ supporters would have taken a point which leaves them in the driving seat for automatic promotion.

Latics have games in hand and with eleven games remaining most people wouldn’t bet against them achieving their aim of promotion to the Championship.

Remaining eleven games

Speaking afterwards to the media, Richardson credited his side for their effort and performance levels as they earned another huge point.

“It was a commendable performance,” he said.

“I’ve got to give credit to the players and staff for how hard they’ve worked through the week in preparation and the lads to follow certain things through on the pitch. 

“I thought for a neutral, it would’ve been a good game to watch. It would’ve been a really good tactical game with two sets of teams out there trying to do certain things and trying to hurt each other in certain ways.

“I think the harder we work, the luckier we will get and I thought we worked tirelessly hard in and out of possession. I felt if we were a little bit more aggressive in possession in their final third, we could’ve created a more chances.

“I thought we deserved to go ahead and it’s disappointing to concede a set-piece with the personnel on the pitch. The lads will be as disappointed as anybody but I thought we thoroughly deserved something out of the game.”

Latics were once again backed in numbers on the road by the travelling supporters, and Richardson hailed the fans’ influence for providing energy to his players from the stands.

“There are many reasons why our away form is very good and they are a massive part of it,” he said.

“Certainly after we scored, the last 20 minutes went within a blink due to how much energy they (the fans) put onto the pitch. Long may that continue because they’ve been fantastic for us this year.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Harry Darling, League One, Leam Richardson, MK Dons, Tom Naylor, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Don Revie – The Biography by Christopher Evans

When football fans talk about the greatest English managers, Don Revie is often excluded. Revie is perhaps the most controversial figure in English football and has never been forgiven for resigning as England manager and moving to the United Arab Emirates.

As a player he was crowned footballer of the year and as a manager at Leeds United between 1964 and 1974 he created the most consistent and dominant side in England.

This extensively researched biography by Christopher Evans MP attempts to reassess Revie’s contribution as both player and manager. Revie had an itinerant playing career moving from Leicester City, Hull City, Manchester City and Sunderland before he joined Leeds United.

At Manchester City he introduced the ‘Revie Plan’ playing himself as a deep lying centre forward drawing the opposing centre half out of position. In 1955 he became footballer of the year and won the FA Cup in 1956.

When he took over as manager at Leeds they were in financial difficulties and languishing in the Second Division. He transformed the club and went onto win two Championships, two Fairs Cups, an FA Cup, and a League Cup during his 13-year reign.

Evans argues that Revie was a master tactician and visionary who transformed the game. His many innovations included using scientists to monitor player fitness, psychologists to improve mindsets and the commissioning of dossiers on opponents.

Around 1963/64 Revie told his son, “One day son there’ll be people coming for lunch at 12, not coming at five to three. There’ll be sponsorship on the shirts. There’ll be television worldwide and it will be a complete revolution.”

But Revie was also a man of many contradictions, and he was not immune to using dirty tricks. For example, he got the Leeds Fire Brigade to drench the Elland Road pitch before a European game with Hungarian team Ujpest Dozsa. Ironically though in quagmire conditions it was Leeds who struggled with the pitch.

He was also accused of giving bribes to players to throw games and gave money to Alan Ball when he was a Blackpool player as an incentive to sign for Leeds, although he eventually signed for Everton.

Revie was an insecure man and was obsessed with money. He told teammate Ken Barnes at Manchester City, “There is one thing which will tell you if you are a good player: that is how much money you’ve got in the bank.”

Revie was very successful during his 13 years at Leeds and he was able to develop a close relationship with his players and support staff. But with England he had limited time to develop that relationship and ultimately, he failed at international level and fled to the Middle East.

Revie was certainly a flawed man, but he made a massive contribution to modern football with his innovative ideas.

This is an intriguing and absorbing biography and Evans makes a very strong case, that despite his faults, Revie should take his place alongside Sir Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and Sir Alex Ferguson as one of the greatest managers this country has ever seen.

Don Revie: The Biography by Christopher Evans MP published by Bloomsbury Sport, Price £20.

A version of this review first appeared in the March/April 2022 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Chris Evans MP, Don Revie, Football Book Reviews, Late Tackle magazine, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Latics edging closer to promotion – Wigan Athletic 1 AFC Wimbledon 0

Max Power

Max Power went off injured as Latics went down to 10 men

  • Wigan Athletic reduced the gap at the top of the table to four points with a hard-fought victory against League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon.
  • Latics went ahead after 21 minutes, when substitute Tom Bayliss’ strike from 25- yards was parried by the Dons goalkeeper Nikola Tzanev and Will Keane converted from close range.
  • The hosts had further opportunities to increase their lead but the visitors stayed in the game.
  • With ten minutes remaining Latics were reduced to ten men when Max Power had to the leave field due to a hand injury and although the Dons pressed for a late equaliser Latics defence wasn’t to be breached.
  • Latics are now four points behind leaders Rotherham with two games in hand and three points ahead of third place MK Dons with two games in hand. AFC Wimbledon are in 20th place in the table and two points above the drop zone.

Leam Richardson had to make changes to the starting line-up as Tendayi Darikwa, Graeme Shinnie and James McClean were all suspended. Curtis Tilt, Joe Bennett and Gwion Edwards all came into the starting line-up alongside Luton loanee Glen Rea who made his first league start

Latics went close early on when Power’s free-kick was drilled into the near post but his strike only found the side netting.

They had another good opportunity in the 18th minute when Bennett’s corner from the right was headed back across goal by Callum Lang to find Stephen Humphrys, but the former Rochdale striker’s effort from close range hit the crossbar.

But the hosts were ahead soon afterwards when Keane notched his 17th league goal of the season. Bayliss, who had come on as a substitute for the injured Rea, hit a low shot which was parried by Tzanev and Keane followed up to convert the rebound.

The Dons tried to respond and former Latic Sam Cosgrove tried his luck from 20 -yards but his effort was comfortably saved by keeper Ben Amos.

Latics almost doubled their lead around the half-hour mark when Bennett’s free-kick arrowed towards the top corner, but Tzanev did well to tip his effort over the crossbar.

Bennett then released Edwards down the left and his deep cross to the far post found Lang but his headed effort was denied by Tzanev.

The visitors were dangerous on the break however and Luke McCormick’s cross from the right was headed towards goal by Cosgrove but Jack Whatmough got a vital touch to divert his effort behind for a corner.

Just before the half time break Keane produced a bit of quality to lift the ball over his marker and send Lang in the clear but Tzanev did enough to put off the striker who was unable to make an effective contact with the ball.

Early in the second half the Dons had an opportunity when Paul Osew’s long throw fell to McCormick inside the penalty area but his effort on the turn was well parried away by Amos.

At the other end Edwards went close for the hosts when he linked up with Keane but his well struck effort was pushed around the post.

Bayliss was then presented with an opportunity from the edge of the box following a corner routine, but his effort unfortunately hit the back of Humphrys and looped over the crossbar

Latics’ next chance came when Humphrys chased down a long ball and set the ball back for Power to cross, but Edwards’ header at the far post was saved by Tzanev.

The visitors had a great opportunity to draw level with just six minutes remaining when Cosgrove rose highest to meet Lee Brown’s delivery but his header went over the crossbar.

Keane then nearly doubled Latics’ lead when his strike from 25-yards was well tipped over the crossbar by the Dons keeper.

Latics went down to ten men in the 90th minute when Power had to go off with a hand injury as his finger had come out of its socket.

Despite some late Dons pressure and five minutes of added time Latics held on for the vital three points.

Speaking afterwards Richardson said how was pleased he was to take the three points.

“It was very honest,” he said.

“We knew before the game that certain teams are at a certain period in the table and they are going to fight. We made a few changes today and I thought the lads coming in did exceptionally well. 

“I thought towards the end, when we had to defend for 10-15 minutes and we were down to ten men, every single player didn’t leave anything out there to get that result. We knew it was going to be a challenge and one that we had to meet, but the pleasing thing is we got the three points and a clean sheet.”

The manager praised the fans for their influence in the victory.

“I think the fans recognised the energy on the pitch and once again, they lifted the players – you could see it filter through onto the pitch,” he said.

“The fans are so important and one of the most pleasing things today is that they (the fans) recognised that as well.

“The lads are working tirelessly hard, and there were some great performances against a good Wimbledon side who are coached very well, but our lads certainly deserved the result today.”

League One Table

After the blip against Sunderland Latics have quickly got back on track for promotion with consecutive victories. Despite the many suspensions and injuries they have been able to maintain their momentum.

Every week is now a big week for Richardson’s men but their next league game will be a promotion six-pointer at third place MK Dons next Saturday.

Before that challenge they must overcome Sutton United in the Semi Final of the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night with the exciting prize of a Wembley final if they can be victorious.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in AFC Wimbledon, League One, Leam Richardson, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: ’71/’72: Football’s Greatest Season? By Daniel Abrahams

Many people regard the 1971/72 football season as the greatest and Danny Abrahams’ book certainly makes a very strong case.

‘There was a season when the world’s greatest footballers were all on show at British grounds. Best, Keegan, Charlton and Moore were joined by Pele, Cruyff and Eusebio, while in the dugouts Clough, Shankly, Revie, and Allison duked it out in the closest ever championship title race. That season was 1971/72.’

It was a season when, in contrast to the current Premier League, a strong case could be made for eight or nine sides winning the title coupled with at least a dozen who could win the domestic cups.

Abrahams recounts the season month by month, chapter by chapter with the key games from all the divisions, domestic and European games plus international matches. It is a comprehensive insight into the football culture of the times in the context of national and world events.

He also unearths some special gems from the time. For example, centre-back David Webb started in goal for Chelsea against Ipswich in December 1971 and three months later he played as a forward in the return fixture, scoring a brace in Chelsea’s 2-1 win.

David Webb

Abrahams believes that although we are now lucky to have wall-to-wall coverage of every goal, it has also robbed us of a rite of passage. He says that Joe Mercer’s view of television is worth repeating,

‘Nothing is left for the supporter to make up his own mind about. Football has much to do with memories. The memory can play tricks, but supporters love to look back, think a certain player did this or that in a game, that a certain goal was scored from 30 yards. It may not have happened exactly like that, but supporters love to believe it did. Television logs everything and as such disproves the memory. It’s robbing football of its romance.’

While this is primarily a homage to football’s greatest season the author does make some telling comparisons and identifies the significant differences between the early 70’s and modern-day football.

‘In the 20 seasons from 1995/96 to 2014/15, only four different teams won the Premier League. In the same 20 seasons, only seven different teams won the FA Cup. In 1972 Derby became the seventh different team to win the title in seven seasons, and Leeds were the tenth different Cup winner in ten seasons. If anything, the FA Cup was the glamour prize in domestic football back in 1972.’

While he acknowledges that today’s game is faster, less brutal, has more goals and you can see the foreign superstars playing in our safer grounds. What he believes is missing from the modern game is an old-fashioned word – charm.

It may be a slightly nostalgic view, but there is a large element of truth in it and this engrossing book goes a long way towards explaining why.

’71/’72: Football’s Greatest Season? By Daniel Abrahams. Published by Pitch Publishing. Price £16.99. 

This review first appeared in the March/April 2022 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Daniel Abrahams, Football Book Reviews, Late Tackle magazine, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Normal service resumed – Wigan Athletic 2 Fleetwood Town 0

Will Keane

Will Keane added his 16th league goal of the season from the penalty spot.

  • Wigan Athletic got back to winning ways with a convincing 2-0 victory against League One strugglers Fleetwood Town at the DW Stadium.
  • After a period of sustained pressure Latics went in front from the penalty spot on 37 minutes when Will Keane converted after Callum Johnson handled Tendayi Darikwa’s shot in the area.
  • The hosts doubled their lead five minutes later when James McClean’s strike from the edge of the area arrowed into the bottom corner.
  • Latics had opportunities to add to their advantage in the second half but despite Callum Lang hitting a post the score remained at 2-0.
  • The game ended in an unsavoury fashion when McClean and former Latic Joe Garner were dismissed for fighting in stoppage time.
  • Latics strengthened their position for automatic promotion and are three points ahead of third place MK Dons with two games in hand and seven points behind leaders Rotherham with two games in hand. Fleetwood are in 19th place in the table and are two points above the relegation zone.

Leam Richardson made three changes to the starting eleven following Saturday’s defeat to Sunderland with Kell Watts, Graeme Shinnie and Stephen Humphrys replacing Curtis Tilt, Gwion Edwards and Josh Magennis.

Prior to kick off there was a moment of applause to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The visitors started strongly and Shayden Morris was played through by Carl Johnston but his cross shot was well pushed away by Ben Amos.

Morris was posing a threat down the right hand side and he tried to catch Amos by surprise with an audacious attempt from just inside Latics’ half, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.

After initial pressure from Fleetwood Latics started to assert themselves and McClean’s corner was headed onto the back post by Keane before the ball came out to Callum Lang. Lang’s cross then found Watts from the right but his low effort was collected by Alex Cairns.

Carl Johnston then tried his luck for the visitors from 25-yards out and Amos had to parry the ball away and at the other end, Darikwa set up McClean but his low effort from just inside the area was blocked by Tom Clarke.

Latics pressure told in the 37th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Darikwa’s shot inside the area struck the hand of Johnson. Keane confidently converted the spot-kick for his 16th league goal of the season.

Five minutes later Latics doubled their lead through McClean. Lang did well to set the ball to the Irishman on the edge of the area, who took a touch before arrowing his strike into the bottom corner.

Latics started the second half assertively and almost added to their lead when Max Power worked a short corner to McClean but he dragged his effort wide from just inside the penalty area.

The hosts were in control now dominating possession and passing the ball confidently.

They went close in the 72nd minute after some outstanding build-up play. Keane showed great skill by lifting the ball over Callum Camps and release Darikwa into space, and the captain’s cross with the outside of his foot found Lang at the far post but his effort from a tight angle crashed against the outside of the post. 

The game ended in an unsavoury fashion in added time when Garner and McClean squared up to each other and then started fighting on the ground and the fight had to be broken up by both sets of players before both Garner and McClean were red carded. It was an unnecessary incident and both players will no doubt regret their behaviour. 

Overall Latics had 21 shots in the game and they will be disappointed that they had not won by more than two goals, but after Saturday’s hiccup they had quickly got back to winning ways and normal service had been resumed in their quest for promotion.

They will now look to keep the pressure on at the top of the table on Saturday when AFC Wimbledon are the visitors at the DW Stadium and leaders Rotherham face third place MK Dons at the New York Stadium.

League One Table

Commenting afterwards Richardson said,

“[We were] very professional and very resilient, especially in the second half.

“I thought we reacted terrifically well from the weekend coming into tonight. In the first-half, Fleetwood had 11 men behind the ball, and it was always going to be a healthy challenge for us to work for that quality of chance.

“When [the chance] came through Tendayi [Darikwa] running off the wide player and winning the penalty, Will Keane tucked it away excellently.

“We know we have to run hard; we are respectful of the challenges that different teams pose. They’ve come to sit behind the ball and counter attack so we had to be mindful of that and make sure we filled the lanes to not get caught up in that.

“I thought the lads were very patient, took information on well and reacted well from the weekend, which we’ve had a good habit of doing this season.

“We looked a threat on the breakaway in the second-half but probably needed a bit more quality – we’ve got to score again really.

“They threw caution to the wind and went four on top and had nothing to lose, with the full backs being high and wide. We had to be professional and not give any room or chances up and Ben [Amos] didn’t have to work too much.

“The clean sheet pleased me through Ben, Jack [Whatmough] and Kell [Watts], up to Stephen [Humphrys] and Keane [Will Keane] working tirelessly in the first half and Josh [Magennis] coming on and continuing that led to a very professional performance.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Fleetwood Town, James McClean, Joe Garner, League One, Leam Richardson, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disappointing day at the DW – Wigan Athletic 0 Sunderland 3

Leam Richardson Wigan Athletic

Leam Richardson

  • In front of 20,000 fans at the DW Stadium an out-of-sorts Wigan Athletic slumped to a 3-0 defeat to play-off chasing Sunderland.
  • Latics went behind after only two minutes when Alex Pritchard’s free-kick was headed home by Bailey Wright.
  • Matters got worse for the hosts on 38 minutes when Curtis Tilt tripped Ross Stewart in the box and the striker got up to convert the penalty kick.
  • Latics struggled throughout to re-create their usual good form and when Darikwa was adjudged to handle the ball in the area Stewart once again converted from the spot-kick.
  • Latics remain in second place in the table above MK Dons on goal difference but with three games in hand. The Black Cats move into fifth place in the play-off zone.

Leam Richardson made one change to the team which defeated Wycombe in midweek with Gwion Edwards replacing Gavin Massey.

The big home crowd was stunned as Sunderland went ahead after just two minutes when Wright headed Alex Pritchard’s free-kick past Ben Amos.

Latics responded well and Max Power’s dipping free-kick from 25-yards was well saved by the Black Cats keeper Anthony Patterson.

The hosts then went close when Josh Magennis’ cross from the right fell to James McClean at the far post, but the former Sunderland player was unable to get his attempt on target.

The visitors increased their advantage when they were awarded a penalty in the 36th minute when Stewart was tripped inside the box by Tilt. 

Stewart picked himself up convert the resulting spot-kick firing into the bottom corner.

The expectation from the home fans was that Latics would start the second half strongly but it was the Black Cats who first threatened through Pritchard.

Stewart got the ball to Pritchard inside the penalty area, but his effort went just wide of the post. 

Probably Latics’ best chance of the game then fell to Callum Lang. 

Will Keane did well to put Lang in the clear but the striker’s final shot from just inside the area was straight at the advancing Patterson. 

Stewart then fired wide for the visitors before at the other end Tilt headed McLean’s free-kick over the crossbar.

The three points were sealed for the visitors when Darikwa was adjudged to have handled in the box following a corner and Stewart once again converted the spot-kick.

It proved to be one of those days for Latics as they had gone behind early on, conceded an unnecessary penalty and from then on it was always going to be an uphill task to get anything from the game.

They had performed uncharacteristically poorly and they had never got their usual attacking game going, but now is not the time to panic. 

They are still well positioned for automatic promotion, with games in hand and will want to get back to winning ways on Tuesday night at the DW stadium against Fleetwood Town.

Latics’ manager was level-headed as per usual after the game,

“It was a frustrating day from the first minute,” 

“To concede from the first ball into your box is disappointing because it’s not the type of goal that we normally concede, but credit to Sunderland because they’ve come to get a result and they got it.

“I’ve got to be respectful to the players and the staff in that we haven’t lost here (at the DW Stadium) since October. The good thing about football is that we’re able to make it right over the next couple of days and we’ve got another game on Tuesday to do that.

“From Tuesday’s win at Wycombe, we didn’t get too high and now from today, we won’t get too low. What we will do is learn quickly and keep growing as a team. 

“It’s the same message from right at the start of the season. We want to be competitive in every game and today was probably the first time I felt we weren’t as competitive for the 90 minutes, but it wouldn’t be for the lack of trying.”

Player ratings courtesy of WhoScored.com

Posted in Wigan Athletic | Leave a comment

Latics magnificent comeback stuns the Chairboys – Wycombe Wanderers 1 Wigan Athletic 3

Callum Lang grabbed a brace

  • Wigan Athletic produced a magnificent second half performance to comeback and defeat promotion-chasing Wycombe Wanderers 3-1 at Adams Park.
  • The Chairboys went ahead through Sullay Kaikai’s smart drive from the edge of the box on 22 minutes.
  • Latics went close when Will Keane hit the crossbar but they never really clicked into gear until the second half when they were by far the dominant force.
  • Max Power’s 35-yard free-kick was spilled by David Stockdale and Tom Naylor was on hand to head home the rebound and draw Latics level on 70 minutes before a Callum Lang brace on 78 and 82 minutes gave the visitors an impressive victory.
  • Latics remain in second place in the table six points behind leaders Rotherham with two games in hand and they are three points ahead of third place MK Dons with three games in hand. Wycombe drop to seventh place in the table one point behind Sunderland.

Leam Richardson made two changes to the team which drew at Rotherham on Friday night with Will Keane and Tendayi Darikwa replacing Stephen Humphrys and Jason Kerr.

Latics started quickly with James McClean breaking quickly from defence and forcing a corner in the first minute.

But the hosts gradually asserted their long ball game and Sam Vokes and Brandon Hanlan were causing Latics defence plenty of problems. Vokes fired over the crossbar from the edge of the box on six minutes and he had another flicked effort from near the penalty spot narrowly wide after nine minutes.

Latics were struggling for their usual cohesion and failed to create many chances in the early stages.

The omens were not good for the visitors as the hosts continued to threaten as Lewis Wing fired over from just outside the box on 18 minutes and four minutes later Wycombe were ahead.

David Stockdale’s long goalkick was cushioned back by Vokes and Kaikai’s low drive found the bottom corner of the net. 

Latics tried to respond and Keane set up Lang whose low shot was well saved by Stockdale on 29 minutes.

Keane produced a brilliant turn inside the box to find space but crashed his powerful left foot shot against the crossbar in the 34th minute.

The hosts aerial bombardment continued to be their biggest threat with Vokes winning far too many headers inside the Latics box. 

1-0 to Wycombe at half time and Latics would need to show a major improvement in the second half if they were to win the game.

Latics improvement was marked right from the start of the second period as they began to dominate possession and to control the game.

Lang was lively and drove forward into the box but was unable to make enough space for a shot before McClean’s dangerous cross was well saved by Stockdale low down at his near post.

Power produced a surging run forward on 55 minutes and set up Gavin Massey whose low strike from 20-yards beat the diving Stockdale but crashed against the base of the post.

Gwion Edwards and Stephen Humphrys replaced Josh Magennis and Massey on 61 minutes as Latics upped the tempo. 

Latics were playing some scintillating football now with some great interplay between the midfielders and forwards. Lang’s cross was well saved by the Chairboys goalkeeper at his near post on 62 minutes.

On 70 minutes Latics were awarded a free-kick 35-yards out and Power’s dipping strike was spilled by Stockdale and Naylor headed the equaliser from close range.

The momentum was with the visitors now and from McClean’s in-swinging corner Lang fired home at the back post to put them ahead.

Soon afterwards the Latics Academy graduate showed great determination by driving forward and winning a fifty fifty challenge inside the box before firing into the bottom corner of the Wycombe net.

During the Latics post goal celebrations Stockdale should’ve been red carded for punching Power as he ran to join the celebrations. A lucky escape for the Wycombe goalkeeper as the referee appeared not to see the incident.

There were over eight minutes of added time, partly due to a head injury to Josh Scowen, but Latics ran out comfortable winners after a magnificent second half display.

Despite a poor opening half they had once again showed their great character and ability to raise their game when it was required.

Latics manager Richardson was rightly full of praise for his team after the game.

“I thought the lads showed great character to get the win,” 

“It was always going to be a very tough game, Gareth (Ainsworth) has been here a long time and they’ve put together a very good squad, with a lot of players from last year in the Championship.

“I thought we grew into the game and, after going behind, we imposed ourselves and when the chances came we took them.

“We spoke at half-time about wanting to penetrate better in certain areas, be more aggressive, and we managed to do that.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Callum Lang, Leam Richardson, Sullay Kaikai, Tom Naylor, Wigan Athletic, wycombe wanderers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top of the table clash ends in stalemate – Rotherham United 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Latics on the attack

  • Second-placed Wigan Athletic and League One leaders Rotherham United fought out a combative 1-1 draw at the New York Stadium.
  • Latics went ahead in the 28th minute when Stephen Humphrys lashed home a fine left-footed strike from 20-yards.
  • Callum Lang had a goal disallowed for a foul on the Rotherham goalkeeper by substitute Will Keane.
  • Ollie Rathbone equalised with a powerful right-foot strike from 25-yards out on 70 minutes.
  • Neither team could get the upper hand in the latter stages and the points had to be shared.
  • Latics remain six points behind Rotherham with two games in hand and are six points ahead of third place MK Dons with two games in hand.

Leam Richardson made four changes from Tuesday’s victory against Crewe with Jason Kerr, Curtis Tilt, Gavin Massey and Humphrys replacing Kell Watts, Tendayi Darikwa, Gwion Edwards and Will Keane.

In a frantic opening period it was the hosts who first went close when Shane Ferguson’s low cross from the left-hand side almost found Michael Smith at the far post.

The tackles were flying in from both sides and referee Jeremy Simpson struggled to cope producing some random decisions.

Latics went in front in the 28th minute when Humphrys produced a stunning strike from just outside the area.

The Millers tried to respond but Latics held firm with the former Rotherham centre-half Curtis Tilt outstanding at the back.

The Millers started strongly in the second half and Ben Amos had to produce a superb save to keep the visitors ahead.

Ogbene pulled the ball back from the right to Smith whose low effort was heading towards the bottom corner but Amos was somehow able to push it away.

Latics had the ball in the back of the net in the 74th minute when Lang fired home at the far post after Josh Vickers had spilt Max Power’s free-kick, but the referee Simpson gave a free-kick for a foul on the goalkeeper by Keane.

Almost out of the blue the hosts drew level with a thunderous strike from Rathbone from 25-yards out which flew past Amos into the bottom corner.

Both teams continued to press for the three points but ultimately they had to settle for a point each.

Nothing is settled as far as the title is concerned but both teams are in the prime positions for automatic promotion.

League One Table

Afterwards Richardson reflected on a positive week that has seen his team take seven points from three games in seven days.

A week that culminated in an intense battle at the top of League One.

“It was everything that we expected,” Richardson said.

“Compliments to what they have done this year, with the amount of balls they put in your box, the pressure they put on teams at home and you have to match it.

“We played Saturday and Tuesday so to then play again on Friday made it a tough turnaround for us and we had to match fire with fire.

“I thought we defended well all night, Stephen [Humphrys] took his goal really well and we could have had a couple of chances in the first half on the counter attack.

“When you come to Rotherham, you have to defend and you have to totally respect what they do. Any point away from home is a good one.

“Probably the only bits of quality in the game – without disrespecting anything else that happened because it was competitive – were the two goals.

“We had to defend without the ball, work hard on the ball and second half I thought they got the momentum – which you’d expect – and then I thought we grew into it towards the end of the game and possibly could have had a breakaway.

“To take seven points in the week, credit goes to the players and to the staff for how hard they’ve worked, recovered and travelled.

“Both sets of fans were great; our fans were unbelievable again and even the conditions didn’t stop them coming across. Their energy at the end of the game got us through.”

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in League One, Leam Richardson, Ollie Rathbone, Rotherham United, Stephen Humphrys, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment