You Are My Sunshine When Skies Are Grey – Sunderland 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Kyle Joseph scored his first goal for Latics

It’s been another difficult week for Wigan Athletic after the Spanish takeover of the club was rejected by the EFL but they showed great character and commitment to record their first win in 14 games at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland dominated possession but Leam Richardson’s well-drilled team were resilient and limited the hosts to very few chances.

The visitors secured the memorable victory with their only shot on target during the 95 minutes when 19-year-old Kyle Joseph scored his first goal for the club.

Latics are now joint bottom of the League One table with Shrewsbury and are five points from safety. Sunderland drop to ninth place.

Lee Evans  returned to the starting eleven after injury but Matty Palmer had picked up an injury at Lincoln and was replaced by Thelo Aasgaard.

Sunderland’s new manager Lee Johnson named former Latics’ favourites Will Grigg and Max Power in their starting line up.

The Black Cats started brightly and looked threatening in the open minutes as Latics stood off their opponents.

But against the run of play a quick counter attack on 16 minutes gave Latics an unlikely lead through the Scottish youth international Joseph. The big striker battled for the ball on the edge of the area before striking a powerful left footed shot with flew past Sunderland keeper Lee Burge.

Aidan McGeady went close for the hosts on 20 minutes when he fired into the side-netting from a good position. Soon afterwards Josh Scowen tried his luck from distance and forced a good save from Jamie Jones diving down low to his left.

The Black Cats were enjoying plenty of possession and Chris Maguire blazed over from inside the box on 38 minutes as Latics lived a little dangerously,

The game continued in similar vein in the second half with the hosts enjoying the lion’s share of possession and Latics defending solidly.

Kal Naismith had battled well alongside Joseph upfront but had to be withdrawn with an injury and replaced by Olly Crankshaw on 62 minutes. The substitute nearly got on the end of forward pass by Evans soon afterwards but keeper Burge was able to clear.

McGeady then forced an excellent save from Jones who spectacularly tipped the Republic of Ireland international’s effort over the crossbar.

McLaughlin shot wide from the edge of the box as the hosts camped themselves in Latics’ half of the pitch.

Chris Merrie replaced Perry on 84 minutes as Latics continued to battle for any loose ball and to keep Sunderland at bay.

Scottish youth international Luke Robinson made his League One debut replacing Gardner on 94 minutes and Latics held out for a deserved three points.

Latics’ defence had limited their opponents to very few chances but when they did penetrate Jones was in fine form between the sticks.

This result was a ray of sunshine for a club that is still in administration and going through some dark times. Richardson’s Academy players and a few experienced professionals deserve great credit for producing such an excellent performance and in such difficult circumstances.

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Hard times for Wigan Athletic – Lincoln City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Kal Naismith

Kal Naismith had given Latics the lead

Latics were unlucky to suffer a narrow 2-1 defeat to high-flying Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.

Kal Naismith’s deflected strike had given the visitors a 52 minute lead but a controversial free-kick was awarded to Lincoln on the edge of the area on 69 minutes and Jorge Grant curled the ball into the top corner for the equaliser.

In a closely fought game neither side created many clear cut chances but with seven minutes of normal time remaining the ball fell to Tom Hopper in the area and his low drive from inside the box went through the legs of defender Adam Long and into the net.

Latics were unable to respond to the setback and have now gone 13 games without a win and remain bottom of League One. Promotion chasing Lincoln move up to second in the table.

Naismith and Dan Gardner returned to the starting line up after injury but Gavin Massey was unavailable due to injury along with five other senior players.

Michael Appleton’s fourth placed Lincoln were looking to move up into the automatic promotion places but Latics matched their opponents in the first half.

Latics best chance of the half came on 27 minutes when Naismith headed the ball down to Curtis Tilt on the edge of the area but the on-loan defender’s strike was deflected for a corner.

The hosts best opportunity came on 41 minutes when Tilt’s mistake allowed Hopper to set up Brennan Johnson but the Nottingham Forest loanee poked the ball wide of the target from a good position in the centre of the box.

Latics had enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half and were organised and resilient in defence.

Early in the second half Tom James should’ve put the ball in the net from close range but he was flagged for offside.

Latics were went ahead on 52 minutes after good work by Matty Palmer. The Swindon loanee won the ball in his own half and played a quick forward pass to Naismith whose right footed shot was deflected past the wrong footed Lincoln keeper.  

The game then entered a scrappy period with neither side creating any chances until referee Sam Purkiss made a highly controversial decision to award a free kick to Lincoln on the edge of the area.

Unfortunately for Latics the free kick was a huge turning point as Grant executed his set-piece to perfection curling the ball into the top corner.

Lincoln now had a foothold and they started to push Latics back into defence. On 81 minutes Tom James cleared off the line after Naismith had inexplicably headed the ball back to Joe Walsh. 

Then on 83 minutes Hopper found space inside the Latics box and turned before firing low through the legs of Long and into the net.

It was hard for Latics to take after matching their promotion chasing opponents for much of the game. Fine margins had decided the game and on another night they might have come away with at least a draw.

Leam Richardson’s youthful charges are making small steps forward but they need their senior players back from injury as soon as possible if they are to move away from the relegation zone. 

The Spanish takeover has still not been decided by the EFL and unless a decision is made this week it may be too late for the new owners to recruit new players in the transfer window.

Latics have enjoyed great success in recent years but it now seems as though nothing is going in their favour. 

Lincoln away

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Battling point for youthful Latics – Wigan Athletic 0 Bristol Rovers 0

Curtis Tilt Curtis Tilt in fine form in the centre of defence

Wigan Athletic’s depleted line-up secured their first point in five games with a spirited display against Bristol Rovers.

The hosts were without seven senior players and prior to the game Latics were dealt a further blow when captain Joe Garner announced that he would be leaving the club to play in India and would be unavailable on the night.

The best chance of the game fell to Rovers Sam Nicholson on 12 minutes when he was clean through on goal but Latics survived the scare with Curtis Tilt twice clearing off the line.

Latics biggest threat came from Tom Pearce’s crosses from the left hand side and their best chance fell to Kyle Joseph but he couldn’t get enough power on his header.

The visitors enjoyed greater possession in the second half but they rarely tested keeper Jamie Jones as the hosts secured a rare point.

Latics remain bottom of the League One table while Bristol are in 21st place.

Leam Richardson returned to the technical area after missing Saturday’s game and made three changes to the starting eleven with Adam Long, Alex Perry and Thelo Aasgaard replacing Emeka Obi, Dan Gardner and Joe Garner. Jamie Jones took over as captain of the team.

In the third minute Pearce’s deep cross caused problems for Rovers keeper Annsi Jaakkola as the ball almost found the top corner.

Pearce then produced a great low cross into the six-yard box but Aasgaard couldn’t quite make the vital contact.

Rovers should have been ahead soon afterwards when Nicholson was clean through but he somehow failed to score with the Rotherham loanee Tilt twice clearing off the goal line.

Latics might have had a penalty on 27 minutes when Chris Merrie was taken out by a high boot but bizarrely referee James Bell awarded a free kick to the visitors.

The hosts best chance came on the stroke of half time when another Pearce cross was flicked on by Aasgaard but Joseph’s header was too tame to trouble Jaakkola.

Bristol had enjoyed greater possession but apart from Nicholson’s chance they hadn’t really posed too many problems for Jamie Jones.

The match continued in a similar vein in the second half with Rovers pressing but Latics creating a few chances on the break.

James’ 30-yard free kick was spilled by Jaakkola but no Latics player could capitalise on the opportunity on 59 minutes.

At the other end Nicholson’s goal bound shot was deflected narrowly wide on 83 minutes as Latics rode their luck a little.

The visitors continued to press forward until the final whistle but they were unable to pose any real threat and Latics’ captain had had a relatively comfortable evening between the sticks.

It had been a hard fought point for Latics with Tilt and Pearce in particular impressing but the overall effort and commitment from a very young team was exemplary.

Latics off the field problems continue however and the EFL must urgently make a decision on the Spanish takeover so that the club can move forward.

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Another dark day at the DW – Wigan Athletic 1 Oxford United 2

Thelo Aasgaard scored his first goal for Latics first team

Thelo Aasgaard scored his first goal for Latics’ first team

Wigan Athletic succumbed to another defeat at the DW Stadium, this time against fellow strugglers Oxford United.

Latics were outplayed for much of the game and went behind when Matty Taylor produced a smart finish for the visitors on 61 minutes.

A mistake by substitute Alex Perry allowed Oxford to increase their lead on 86 minutes when Alex Henry converted Sean Clare’s cross.

The hosts rallied late on and reduced the arrears on 89 minutes through substitute Thelo Aasgaard’s glancing header.

But the visitors held on to record a valuable victory and extend Latics’ miserable run of results.

Latics are now joint bottom of League One with Burton Albion while Oxford move up to 19th spot.

With John Sheridan’s departure to Swindon Town and Leam Richardson’s absence for family reasons it was Head of Academy Gregor Rioch who was in charge of the team.

Loanees Curtis Tilt and Matty Palmer returned to the starting eleven but Latics were without the injured Will Keane, Lee Evans, Kal Naismith, Darnell Johnson and Viv Solomon-Otabor as well as the suspended Adam Long.

Oxford posed a threat in the first minute when Tom James had to concede a corner following a deep cross to the back post.

The visitors were pushing plenty of players into forward positions as the hosts struggled to get out from the back.

Keeper Jamie Jones tried to clear a cross with his feet on 12 minutes and the ball looped over the crossbar.

Tom Pearce produced a great block to deny Taylor when he looked likely to score from 12-yards out on 15 minutes as the visitors enjoyed plenty of possession.

A minute later Jordan Obita cut inside the box and Jones made a very good save low down to his left.

Latics tactic of knocking long balls up to Joe Garner was proving ineffective against Oxford’s bigger centre backs as they rarely threatened.

Oxford were creating plenty of chances however as Obita forced another good save from Jones on 45 minutes before Henry blazed over the angle of post and crossbar soon afterwards.

Right on the stroke of half time Tom Pearce cleared Robert Atkinson’s header off the goal line to keep the scores level at the interval.

Latics had been second best in the first half and it would require a major improvement in the second half if they were to get anything from the game.

Early in the half they were given the opportunity of a lifeline when Simon Eastwood dropped the ball at Kyle Joseph’s feet but the young striker poked the ball wide of the target.

The miss proved hugely significant as Oxford took the lead soon afterwards when Marcus McGuane’s cross was well-finished by Taylor from the edge of the six-yard box.

Taylor then forced another good save from Jones on 64 minutes before Elliott Moore headed against the crossbar and Taylor’s diving header produced another acrobatic save from the Latics keeper.

Alex Perry and Olly Crankshaw replaced Palmer and Gardner as Latics looked for fresh legs on 72 minutes.

Gavin Massey tried his luck from 25-yards out and found the side-netting but this was a rare attempt on the visitors goal.

Latics were lacking cohesion and creativity and set-pieces were invariably wasted with one Tom James free kick from the edge of the box going out for a throw in.

Aasgaard replaced Massey on 83 minutes but a mistake by Perry in midfield allowed Oxford to counter-attack quickly with Clare’s cross converted by Henry.

It appeared to be all over for the hosts but three minutes later Pearce’s cross from the left hand side was superbly glanced home by the young Norwegian midfielder.

Latics rallied and with seven minutes of added time the possibility of an equaliser gave the hosts some urgency.

Oxford held out but in truth Latics had been second best for most of the 97 minutes and the visitors deservedly took home the three points.

It’s a desperately difficult time for Latics and they will continue to struggle until they can get their senior players back fit and the problems off the pitch resolved. Hopefully the Spanish takeover can be completed very soon and the club can then move forward with some stability.

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Latics’ fragile confidence easily shattered – Wigan Athletic 2 Chorley 3

John Sheridan

Big problems for John Sheridan

National League North Chorley pulled off an FA Cup first round shock when they defeated League One Wigan Athletic 3-2 after extra time at the DW Stadium.

Latics had dominated the first half and led 2-0 with goals from Joe Garner and Tom James but when defender Adam Long was given a straight red card the game turned completely on its head.

The Magpies reduced the deficit just after half time when Elliott Newby rifled home after Latics’ defence failed to clear and the hosts fragile confidence was further exposed on 60 minutes when a mistake by Tom Pearce allowed Harry Cardwell to race clear before executing a neat finish.

2-2 at the end of normal time but the excellent part-timers deservedly grabbed the winner in extra time when Latics’ defence once again failed to deal with the Magpies attacking threat and Connor Hall was on hand to send Chorley through to the second round. 

John Sheridan made two changes from the team that narrowly lost at Blackpool with Owen Evans replacing Jamie Jones in goal and Gavin Massey coming into midfield for the ineligible Matty Palmer.

Sixth tier Chorley are currently bottom of the National League North and Latics dominated the early stages with Dan Gardner heading into the side-netting on eight minutes before Joe Garner put the hosts ahead on 19 minutes.

Gardner’s shot was deflected into the path of the Latics captain who finished well from close range.  

Garner might have added to the hosts lead on 29 minutes when Pearce’s excellent cross found him unmarked inside the box but his header just cleared the crossbar.

Latics doubled their lead on 34 minutes when James produced a top quality finish from the corner of the penalty box.

The Hibernian loanee looked to be about to cross with his right foot but instead turned inside onto his left foot and curled the ball into the top left corner of the net.

Latics appeared to be in control, dominating possession and creating chances but the Magpies allows looked dangerous on the break and Hall forced a good save from Evans on 38 minutes.

The match turned in Chorley’s favour on 40 minutes when Long was given a straight red card after he brought down Cardwell after Latics’ nervy defence had hesitated.  

2-0 at half time and Sheridan will have instructed his players not to give the visitors an early lifeline in the second half but that’s just what they did.

Latics defence failed to clear a high ball into the box and when the ball fell to Newby he made no mistake from close range.

The hosts fragile confidence was visibly shattered and the Magpies now realised they could go on to win the game.

The visitors were being given far too much space in midfield and forced a succession of corners as Latics retreated into defence.

Birch produced an excellent long range effort which Evans did well to tip over the crossbar.

The visitors then had an effort cleared off the line as they pressed for the equaliser but it came soon when Pearce’s misplaced pass set up Cardwell who raced clear before slotting the ball past Evans.

Latics looked in complete disarray and the visitors were in the ascendancy. The part-timers looked more determined and were winning many of the 50/50 challenges.

Hall missed a great chance for the visitors on 72 minutes and at the other end Garner had a strike headed off the line for the hosts.

As the game ticked towards the end of normal time substitute Crankshaw got to the byeline and crossed for Garner but the striker couldn’t get his shot on target and match moved into extra time.

Extra time started disastrously for Latics as Emeka Obi failed to clear and Hall was on hand to finish from a tight angle.

Latics best chance in extra time fell to Garner when he chested down James’ excellent cross before firing just wide of the target but in truth ten-man Latics had been second best since Long’s dismissal.

Sheridan’s team has been stretched to the limits due to administration and injuries, but it looked as though they had the tie under control until the sending off.

It is a hard learning curve for Latics’ young players but they must learn quickly and stop shooting themselves in the foot with silly mistakes.

Congratulations to Chorley who deservedly progressed to the second round but Latics’ miserable year just goes from bad to worse.

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Latics edged out by the Seasiders – Blackpool 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Kyle Joseph went close for Latics

Wigan Athletic’s makeshift team suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. 

Latics who are still missing seven first-teamers acquitted themselves well against the more experienced hosts and were unlucky not to come away with at least a draw.

In an even first half both sides had chances but the best opportunity fell to C.J. Hamilton who blazed over from inside the box.

The Seasiders went ahead just after half-time when Sullay Kaikai converted Jerry Yates clever cut back.

Kyle Joseph making his debut forced an excellent save from Chris Maxwell to deny the visitors an equaliser but Gary Madine wasted a great chance for the hosts when he was far too casual with his shot and Jones saved easily.

The result drops Latics to the bottom of the League One table on goal difference while Blackpool move up to 12th spot. 

Injury-hit Latics were still without Lee Evans, Gavin Massey, Kal Naismith, Curtis Tilt, Darnell Johnson, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Will Keane for the trip to Bloomfield Road.

Five of the starting eleven were from Gregor Rioch’s Academy with Joseph making his full debut upfront and Emeka Obi starting in the centre of defence alongside Adam Long.

The experienced hosts started brightly and Madine forced a good save from Jones and Hamilton fired across goal from a good position soon afterwards.

But Latics gradually grew into the game and Dan Gardner’s goal bound effort was deflected for a corner on 20 minutes. Gardner then turned provider crossing for Joe Garner’s header which was saved by Maxwell.

Garner then tried his luck from 40 yards when seeing Maxwell off his line but the striker’s effort was wide of the target.

Hamilton then had a glorious opportunity for the hosts but he blazed over from inside the box.

At the other end Latics nearly gained the advantage when Garner’s clever dummy provided space for Joseph and the Scotland Youth international turned one way and then the other before firing narrowly wide.  

0-0 at the interval with Latics showing plenty of endeavour and matching the hosts for possession.

But early in the second half the Seasiders were in front. Yates broke forward down the right and cut the ball back to Kaikai who made no mistake from 12-yards out.

Despite the setback Latics youthful line-up continued to be competitive and Joseph forced an excellent save from Maxwell with his left-footed strike.

The hosts should have added to their lead on 65 minutes when Madine looked odds on to score from six-yards out but his tame effort was easily saved by Jones.

Tom James had a shot deflected over the crossbar and Chris Merrie should have done better with his shot after good set up play by Gardner and Garner but Latics just couldn’t find their way through the Seasiders defence.

Latics couldn’t be faulted for their effort and the young players can be proud of their performances but the current injury-crisis is killing the club and the manager will be desperately hoping that they can get the injured players back fit very soon.

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Injury crisis pushes Latics into trouble – Wigan Athletic 2 Northampton Town 3

Tom James reduced the deficit with a header

Wigan Athletic’s makeshift line-up narrowly lost 3-2 to Northampton Town at the  DW Stadium.

The hosts were without seven first team players due to injury and they struggled to compete in the first half against the physically stronger visitors.

Former Wigan youth player Ryan Watson put Northampton ahead from close range on 13 minutes after Latics’ defence had failed to clear their lines.

The visitors increased their lead on 21 minutes when Sam Hoskins finished confidently from 12-yards.

It looked as though Latics inexperienced line-up might be in for a hiding but they rallied in the second half and pulled a goal back from Joe Garner’s penalty kick.

The visitors soon responded though and substitute Caleb Chukwuemeka restored their two goal advantage on 66 minutes.

Latics kept persevering and Tom James reduced the deficit on 75 minutes with a fine header from Tom Pearce’s cross.

The hosts might have drawn level when substitute Kyle Joseph turned superbly in the six-yard box before firing against the post but it was just not to be.

Latics drop to 21st place in the League One table while Northampton move up to 18th spot.

Injury-hit Latics were without Lee Evans, Gavin Massey, Kal Naismith, Curtis Tilt, Darnell Johnson, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Will Keane for the visit of Northampton.

Thelo Aasgaard and Olly Crankshaw made their first league starts for the club.

Manager John Sheridan adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation in windy conditions.

The visitors started strongly and the big Northampton striker Harry Smith headed over before Jones denied Watson with a good save low down.

Watson then headed over following a free-kick on nine minutes and the visitors were ahead on 12 minutes when the midfielder Watson poked the ball home after Latics’ defenders failed to clear.

Latics’ makeshift defence was struggling to come to terms with Smith’s aerial presence and Crankshaw was immediately withdrawn and replaced by Emeka Obi in central defence.

The visitors increased their lead on 22 minutes as Hoskins latched onto a header from Michael Harriman and raced through the centre of Latics’ defence before slotting the ball past Jamie Jones.

The signs looked ominous for the inexperienced hosts as Watson was given far too much space in the box but he fired straight at Jones.

Matty Palmer headed over from Pearce’s cross on the stroke of half time but Latics had rarely threatened in a poor first half display.

Latics noticeably improved after the half time break with Garner heading over and James curling a shot narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar.

Palmer was moving the ball well in midfield as Latics started to create some momentum.

Pearce was tripped in the box on 62 minutes and Garner converted the penalty for his sixth goal of the season.

But the visitors almost immediately restored their two-goal lead as Latics gave the ball away in midfield and substitute Chukwuemeka made it 3-1.

Joseph replaced Aasgaard on 72 minutes and James made it 3-2 on 74 minutes with a fine header from Pearce’s cross.

Latics were now passing the ball to good effect and looked the most likely to score.

Substitute Joseph turned superbly in the box on 84 minutes before crashing his shot against the post.

Latics continued to press for the equaliser but they just couldn’t capitalise on their dominance and Northampton held out for the three points.

Despite the injury-crisis Latics youthful line-up had pushed the visitors in the second half and they might have secured a draw if it hadn’t been for such a poor first half display.

It is fair to say that any team would struggle without seven first teamers, and it must be frustrating for the manager to see players making mistakes, but the majority of the team are inexperienced and the fans shouldn’t be too critical in the circumstances.

If they can get the injured players back fit there is no reason why they can’t start to climb away from the bottom of the table.

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Review: Luka Modric My Autobiography

Luka Modric My Autobiography cover

From humble beginnings Luka Modric has achieved incredible things during his football career winning more than 15 trophies with Real Madrid, a FIFA World Cup finalist, Golden Ball winner, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, FIFA Best Men’s Player and Ballon d’Or Winner.

His autobiography written in conjunction with journalist Robert Matteoni and translated from Croatian recounts his remarkable story from his early life in war-torn Yugoslavia and through his many football achievements to his appearance in the 2018 World Cup Final.

Modric is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders of the last 20 years, alongside such stars as Xavi, Iniesta and Scholes, and was voted the best player of the 2018 World Cup.

The diminutive Modric, (he is only 5ft 7in) had to fight to be accepted as a professional footballer during his youth. His genuine love for the game and perseverance and dedication to succeed enabled him to reach the highest level of the game.

It is a phenomenal career and Modric’s story is an engrossing one. Although sometimes the story can lack real verve, this may be because the story is being retold via Robert Matteoni and also translated from Croatian. The retelling can also be a little mechanical at times with the prose efficient rather than exciting.

Modric has to contend with major setbacks such as the murder of his Grandfather during the Croatian War of Independence, the health issues of his wife Vanja and the court case after his transfer from Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham. Modric was charged with perjury after his testimony in executive director Zdravko Mamic’s corruption trial. The charge was ultimately rejected, but during the trial Modric received death threats and was the most hated person in Croatia.

Despite these major setbacks Modric’s personal grit and determination to succeed shines throughout the book. Prior to the World Cup Final Modric believed his career had reached a peak.

“This is where my career and my story as a footballer reaches its conclusion. I’ve won everything with Real. I’m playing with Croatia in the FIFA World Cup Final. No matter how it ends, I feel I have accomplished what I hoped for.”

However, although Croatia lose the final against France, Modric’s career reaches new heights when he wins the player of the tournament and goes on to win that year’s Ballon D’Or.

Modric’s autobiography provides an illuminating insight into the career of one of the greatest players in the modern game. A player who dreamt of becoming a professional footballer but reached incredible heights way beyond his wildest imagination.

Luka Modric My Autobiography. Published by Bloomsbury. Price £18.99.

This review first appeared in the October/November 2020 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

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Tough times for Latics – MK Dons 2 Wigan Athletic 0

Jamie Jones kept Latics in the game in the first half

Injury-hit Wigan Athletic suffered a dispiriting 2-0 defeat at Milton Keynes Dons tonight.

Latics who are still in administration and awaiting a takeover by a Spanish consortium were without four key players and lost striker Will Keane to injury after only eight minutes.

The hosts had a relatively easy victory against the disjointed visitors and should have been ahead before half time but Scott Fraser wasted a couple of great chances.

Early in the second half MK Dons were awarded a penalty when Tom James made a rash challenge in the box and Fraser stepped up to convert the spot kick.

It was not long before the hosts added a second on 52 minutes when Stephen Walker fired home as the visitors defence failed to clear their lines on several occasions.

Latics makeshift team produced some promising moves in the latter stages but they were unable to reduce the deficit and MK Dons ran out comfortable winners.

Latics drop down to 19th in the League One table while MK Dons climb to 17th spot.

John Sheridan faced severe selection problems as the already depleted squad lost Kal Naismith, Lee Evans, Darnell Johnson and Viv Solomon-Otabor from the team which had drawn with Plymouth.

Dan Gardner, Chris Merrie, Adam Long and Will Keane came into a 3-5-2 formation.

The hosts posed the first threat when experienced striker Cameron Jerome headed wide of the target from Dean Lewington’s cross.

Latics then suffered another injury when Keane pulled up with a groin problem and was replaced by Olly Crankshaw.

It was a poor opening as neither team came into the game with much confidence following recent poor results.

But gradually the hosts appeared to realise that they were up against a weakened team who were struggling for any cohesion.

MK Dons enjoyed plenty of possession and should’ve been in front on 22 minutes when the Latics defence was sliced wide open but Fraser’s shot was well saved at the near post by Jamie Jones.

Six minutes later Fraser had another great chance and once again Jones came to the rescue turning the ball around the post when the striker looked odds on to score.

Walker then fired over the crossbar from the edge of the box as the visitors retreated further into their defence. Wing-backs Gavin Massey and Tom Pearce just couldn’t get forward as the pressure mounted.

Latics were lucky to be level at half time but catastrophe struck on 47 minutes when James rashly challenged Matthew Sorinola in the box and referee Charles Breakspear awarded a penalty which Fraser converted.

It was not long before the hosts doubled their lead as Latics’ defenders failed to clear their lines on several occasions and when the ball came to Walker in the area he made no mistake with a low drive.

It now appeared to be a case of damage limitation for Latics but Curtis Tilt went close with a header from Matty Palmer’s corner on 55 minutes as the visitors rallied a little.

Massey and Tilt appeared to be withdrawn due to injuries as Latics problems worsened and were replaced by Thelo Aasgaard and Alex Perry.

Substitute Joe Mason curled a shot narrowly wide on 69 minutes as the hosts nearly added to their lead.

Latics youthful substitutes started to pass the ball better as the hosts sat on their lead and they created a couple of chances themselves.

Crankshaw’s cross from the right was spilled by keeper Andrew Fisher but Joe Garner couldn’t quite capitalise on the mistake.

Latics had a good opportunity to test the MK Dons keeper on 89 minutes from a free kick on the edge of the box, but James blazed his shot so wide it went for a throw-in, which just about summed up Latics’ dreadful evening.

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Stalemate after a game of two halves – Wigan Athletic 1 Plymouth Argyle 1

Will Keane Will Keane scored his first goal for Latics

It was a game of two halves as Wigan Athletic ground out a first league point in four games against Plymouth Argyle at the DW Stadium.

Latics produced a dreadful first half display as Argyle looked to have taken control. The visitors went ahead after 34 minutes when some shambolic defending allowed Ryan Hardie to chip the ball over Jamie Jones.

Latics were all at sea in the opening 45 minutes and could have been further behind if it wasn’t for some poor finishing by the visitors.

But Latics were a transformed team after the half time break and deservedly drew level when Kal Naismith’s chipped cross was headed home at the near post by substitute Will Keane on 69 minutes.

Both teams had chances to secure all three points in normal time and eight minutes of added time but a draw was probably a fair result in the end.

Latics move out of the bottom four and up to 18th in the League One table while Plymouth are in ninth place.

John Sheridan shuffled his pack after recent poor performances with Tom Pearce returning at left-back and Tom James moving across to right back. Will Keane dropped to the bench and Kal Naismith and Gavin Massey moved into more forward positions.

In very wet and windy conditions Latics lost winger Viv Solomon-Otabor to injury in the first minute and immediately had to reshuffle their formation with Keane coming on to replace him.

The hosts never settled in the opening half and looked disjointed and unable to get a foothold in the game. They moved the ball far too slowly and the visitors were easily able to break up any attacks.

Curtis Tilt blocked a goal bound shot on 25 minutes and Jones saved a 25-yard srike by Nottingham Forest loanee Tyrese Fornah soon afterwards as the visitors threatened to go ahead.

Jephcott then had a glorious chance to put Argyle in front but he headed wide of the target from a great position.

The visitors were ahead on 34 minutes when some shambolic Latics defending presented Argyle with the lead. Jones pass out to Pearce was too hard and in an attempt to control the ball he knocked into the path of Hardie who calmly chipped the ball over Jones and into the net.

Garner briefly threatened at the end of the half with an overhead kick which went narrowly wide, but Latics had produced a desperate first half display which was full of mistakes and lacking in any cohesion.

The hosts were lucky to go into the break only 1-0 down and Sheridan will have had some harsh words for the players during the interval.

Substitute Adam Long replaced the injured Darnell Johnson in Latics’ defence for the second half.

Latics seemed a transformed team for the second half and they started to move the ball much quicker and press higher up the pitch.

Soon after the restart they controversially had a goal disallowed. Naismith’s cross was headed back into the box by Garner for Lee Evans to finish but the linesman flagged and after a long consultation between the officials the goal was chalked off.

But Latics were not to be undone and they continued to press forward. James fired over the crossbar after Garner had set him up on 61 minutes and an excellent cross by Massey just evaded Garner on the edge of the six-yard box a minute later.

Latics were level on 69 minutes after a flowing move. Naismith produced a delicate chipped cross to the near post and Keane made no mistake heading his first goal for the club.

The hosts now looked the better team and most likely to get the winner as they pressed high and created chances.

But as the half wore on the game opened up with both sides creating more opportunities. Substitute Frank Nouble had a shot well blocked on 74 minutes and Long made an excellent defensive block to deny Danny Mayor on 77 minutes.

Naismith’s free-kick nearly fell into the path of Garner on 87 minutes and soon afterwards the Latics captain miscued his shot after good work by Keane had set him up.

Eight minutes of added time following the disallowed goal consultation and an injury to Curtis Tilt.

Long came to the rescue again on 93 minutes when he blocked another shot from Nouble who was through on goal.

The hosts were living dangerously as the visitors forced a succession of corners, but they might have won it in the 88th minute when on the break Garner played the ball to Evans in the box and he couldn’t quite get his shot away and the game ended in a draw.

A real game of two halves with Argyle dominant in the first half and Latics the better team in the second. Latics’ first half performance just wasn’t acceptable and they were lucky the game wasn’t out of sight by then.

Sheridan will be pleased with the players reaction in the second half.  When Latics move the ball quicker and press high they look capable of matching any team in the division. The players must now ensure that they now maintain that high standard and if they can, they are capable of moving up the table.

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