Topsy turvy ‘tics – Wigan Athletic 2 Middlesbrough 2

Samy Morsy Samy Morsy

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Posted in Championship, Harold Moukoudi, Lewis Wing, Middlesbrough, Sam Morsy, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics outgunned by playoff hopefuls – Wigan Athletic 1 Preston North End 2

Chey Dunkley Chey Dunkley

Latics’ recent run of good form came to an end against playoff hopefuls Preston with a 2-1 defeat at the DW Stadium.

The visitors started brightly and were ahead after only seven minutes when Tom Barkhuizen converted Daniel Johnson’s cross.

Preston could’ve gone further in front as Sean Maguire forced a superb fingertip save from David Marshall and Scott Sinclair fired wide from a good position.

But soon after the interval the visitors doubled their lead when Barkhuizen’s cut back was turned home by Johnson.

Latics rallied when substitute Joe Gelhardt was introduced and the young England star was instrumental in Latics’ goal crossing for Chey Dunkley to force the ball home at close range.

The hosts pressed hard for the equaliser but they just didn’t have enough fire power to unlock a resolute Preston defence.

Latics remain in the bottom three and four points from safety while PNE move up to sixth in the Championship table.

Paul Cook made one change from the win against Leeds United with Jamal Lowe replacing Gavin Massey. Surprisingly Tom Pearce continued at left back and AC Milan transfer target Antonee Robinson wasn’t even on the bench. 

Latics had an early chance when Jamal Lowe got in behind the Preston defence but his effort was tipped around the post by Declan Rudd.

PNE came forward strongly and were ahead on seven minutes as Johnson crossed for Barkhuizen to finish at the back post.

The visitors could’ve doubled their lead on 14 minutes but Marshall produced a superb fingertip save from Sean Maguire’s header. Sinclair then had a glorious chance but he fired wide of the target much to Latics’ relief.

Latics tried to gain a foothold in the game and a succession of deliveries into the box presented opportunities for Dunkley and Kieffer Moore, but neither attempt troubled Rudd.

Dunkley then headed a Lee Evans cross narrowly over the bar on 21 minutes.

Moore had another chance but this time his goalbound strike deflected wide.

Latics final opportunity to level in the first half came with Joe Williams in a good position but his tame effort was easily saved by Rudd.

Latics began the second half disastrously as Lowe easily conceded possession high up the pitch and they were punished as Barkhuizen squared the ball for Johnson to convert.

An uphill struggle for Latics now, so Cook made a double change introducing Joe Gelhardt and Michael Jacobs.

Gelhardt immediately made an impact as his cross was smashed home by Dunkley at close range.

Cook’s reluctance to start Gelhardt continues to frustrate Latics’ fans as the 17 year-old striker continues to impress when he’s on the pitch and is their most dangerous attacker.

In fact it was Gelhardt who almost got a leveller when his 35-yard strike was well saved by Rudd low down at his near post.

But despite their late dominance and six minutes of added time Latics were unable to get an equaliser against a Preston team who look like a good bet for the playoffs.

Cook should rue his decision to go with three centre backs at home and to leave their most consistent player Robinson out of the team. Lowe had another frustrating game and it is remarkable that the manager continues to select him. Gelhardt’s absence from the starting eleven also continues to be a mystery.

Surely the manager will make the necessary changes for the Middlesbrough game on Tuesday night, reverting to a back four and selecting both Robinson and Gelhardt.


Posted in Championship, Chey Dunkley, Daniel Johnson, Joe Gelhardt, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lightning strikes twice as Latics topple Leeds again – Leeds United 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Joe Williams

Joe Williams

For the second season running Latics stunned Leeds United at Elland Road in the process knocking them off the top of the table.

Latics went ahead on 59 minutes when Joe Williams corner deflected off Pablo Hernandez and looped over Kiko Casilla and into the net.

The Championship leaders dominated possession and created plenty of chances but a combination of some excellent defending and poor finishing gave Latics a vital three points in their quest for survival.

Latics remain in 22nd spot but are now just two points from safety and Leeds drop to second place in the table.

Paul Cook made four changes to the starting line up with full back Tom Pearce making his debut in the league and Chey Dunkley coming into a five man backline.

Williams replaced the injured Kieran Dowell and Gavin Massey replaced Jamal Lowe.

Leeds opened strongly and David Marshall had to deny Helder Costa’s shot after five minutes.

Latics were on the back foot and Patrick Bamford struck an effort over the bar before Jack Harrison’s low shot struck the foot of the post.

Latics weathered the early storm and gradually grew into the game.

Captain Samy Morsy nearly gave the visitors the lead when his powerful shot from distance was parried away by Casilla.

Leeds were still creating chances and Harrison had the best chance when he went around Marshall but struck the ball into the side netting.

The former Leeds defender Pearce was getting forward to good effect and when he beat Costa to the byline he was brought down just outside of the area. Williams disappointingly fired the resulting free kick into the side netting.

All level at the interval but the hosts started the second half as they had done in the first. 

Cedric Kipre continued to be outstanding in the air as Leeds bombarded the Latics defence with crosses from the wings.

Leeds attacked in waves and forced a succession of corners but Latics held firm.

The visitors determination to was to prove crucial when they went ahead in the 59th minute.

Williams’ corner deflected off Hernandez and looped over Leeds Casilla and into the net. A little lucky perhaps but no more than they deserved for their efforts.

It could have been 2-0 soon afterwards but Morsy was again denied from distance by another Casilla save.

Bielsa’s men drove forward again but Kal Naismith was on hand to deny Bamford with a vital goal line clearance.

Latics then had a glorious opportunity to double their lead. Pearce burst forward from his own half and was through on goal but was denied by a last-ditch challenge just inside the box.

Latics would have to endure a late onslaught as Leeds desperately tried to rescue the game.

Kipre was resolute and the big 23-year-old Ivorian defender won every important challenge in the box.

With Marshall beaten the former Motherwell man provided the final crucial intervention clearing off the line to ensure another remarkable result at Elland Road.

Leeds will inevitably be wondering if their season will once again end in disappointment with Latics as the catalyst for decline.

Huge celebrations at the end as Latics recorded back to back wins for the first time this season. The result will be a big confidence booster for the rest of the season.

The Championship table is looking much better for Latics who are now only two points behind 21st placed Stoke City and three points behind 20th placed Huddersfield.

Latics next face a difficult test against local rivals Preston but the fighting spirit is evident amongst the players and the prospect of survival is a real one.

Posted in Cedric Kipre, Championship, Joe Williams, Leeds United, Pedro Hernandez, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lowe’s late winner lifts Latics’ spirits – Wigan Athletic 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Jamal Lowe Jamal Lowe. Photo courtesy of Wigan Athletic

A rare goal by Jamal Lowe gave Latics a desperately needed victory against Sheffield Wednesday at the DW Stadium.

The visitors had gone ahead in the first half when Jacob Murphy headed home Morgan Fox’s pinpoint cross.

Kieffer Moore equalised early in the second half after a defence splitting pass from the excellent Samy Morsy.

But despite Latics’ dominance the match looked to be heading towards a draw until Lowe’s stunning winner in stoppage time.

Lowe produced a deft back header over keeper Cameron Dawson from Joe Garner’s flick-on following Joe Williams cross to lift the home team’s spirits.

Latics move up to third bottom in the Championship table, four points from safety, while Wednesday drop to 11th place.

Paul Cook made two changes to the team defeated against Swansea City with Joe Gelhardt finally getting a start and Moore coming in for Joe Williams and Joe Garner.

It was a hard fought opening period as both teams battled to take control. Latics first real opportunity came when Antonee Robinson was played into the box but fired over from a good position.

At the other end, the Owls had a chance as Murphy went in behind the Latics defence but he fired wide of the target.

Soon afterwards the visitors were ahead as Barry Bannon played a great pass to Fox on the wing and his perfect cross found Murphy on the edge of the six yard box and the Newcastle United loanee headed past David Marshall.

Latics responded and Morsy’s powerful effort from 35-yards was well pushed away by Dawson.

But the visitors were ahead at the interval and Latics would need to up their game in the second half if they were to get anything from the game.

Latics started strongly and were level on 56 minutes, Morsy played a superb through ball to Moore in the Wednesday penalty area and the big striker scored his third goal of the season.

On 66 minutes Latics suffered a big blow when Everton loanee Kieran Dowell was injured and stretchered off.

Despite the setback Latics upped their game with the diminutive Morsy driving the team forward and consistently winning challenges against the 6ft 5in Owls striker Atdhe Nuhiu.

Cedric Kipre had a great chance to put Latics ahead following a corner but he couldn’t get enough power in his shot and Dawson saved easily.

Latics pressure mounted and Jacobs had a chance from a Lowe pull back and Moore headed narrowly wide at the back post from a Lee Evans cross.

Wednesday couldn’t get out of their half as Latics went in search of the winner.

Lowe crossed again for Moore but the big Wales international couldn’t quite make it count at the back post.

Just when it looked like Latics would be thwarted in their attempts Lowe got the vital winner.

Substitute Williams launched a deep ball to fellow substitute Garner who headed onwards to Lowe who deftly guided the ball over Dawson with a back header.

It was no more than Latics deserved for their second half performance and it was a crucial result as fellow strugglers Luton and Huddersfield both won on the night.

Whether Latics have turned a corner remains to be seen. The gap between Latics and fourth bottom Charlton is now four points but they have difficult fixtures against Leeds (A) and Preston (H) upcoming.

Posted in Championship, Jacob Murphy, Jamal Lowe, Kieffer Moore, Samy Morsy, Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleepwalking towards relegation – Swansea City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Nathan Byrne

Nathan Byrne. Photo courtesy of Wigan Athletic

Latics slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Swansea City and slipped deeper into relegation trouble.

Paul Cook’s team have won only once in the last 17 games and the club seems to be sleepwalking towards League One after another toothless display.

Nathan Byrne had given Latics an early lead at the Liberty Stadium but goals from Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster and Andre Ayew had ensured that the Swans got a deserved victory.

Latics remain second bottom in the Championship table, two points from safety, while Swansea move up to fifth.

Latics made one change from the team beaten by Bristol City with Joe Garner replacing Josh Windass. Kieffer Moore returned to the bench, but Joe Gelhardt was absent due to illness.

The hosts started the stronger but Latics had an early opportunity when Kieran Dowell crossed for Joe Williams, but the midfielder headed over the crossbar.

On 17 minutes Latics were ahead from a counter attack with Antonee Robinson combining well with Dowell, who pulled the ball back for Byrne, who slotted home past Woodman.

But the Swans were level almost immediately as Kal Naismith gave the ball away in defence and Conor Gallagher set up Brewster who finished past David Marshall.

Ten minutes later the Swans had a chance to go ahead when Connor Roberts squared for Gallagher, but the midfielder fired over the crossbar.

Early in the second half Dowell provided an opportunity for Robinson but the full back’s effort was cleared by Ben Wilmot.

Robinson then provided an inviting cross for Garner to restore Latics’ lead but the striker wasted the opportunity heading just over.

Just before half-time, the Swans nearly went in front as Bersant Celina escaped Byrne on the left and beat Marshall but Naismith was luckily on hand to clear the ball from going over the line.

Then in first half stoppage time the hosts missed another great opportunity as Ayew headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

In the second-half Latics continued to be on the back foot as the Swans threatened.

Brewster saw an effort blocked by Kipre before Kyle Naughton had an effort deflected just wide.

With just over 20 minutes remaining Swansea deservedly went ahead as Celina crossed for Ayew to convert at the near post.

Dowell was once again Latics’ most creative player and he created a chance for substitute Moore but the striker headed back across goal and the ball was cleared.

Celina then had a great chance to seal victory for the Swans but he dragged his effort wide.

In stoppage time Latics had a great chance to steal a point as Moore broke clear for a one on one with Woodman but the Wales striker’s tame effort was easily saved by the Swans keeper.

Latics dreadful run of form continues and the prospect of relegation gets ever nearer.

The Latics board should have made a change in manager prior to Christmas to address the decline but their reluctance to sack Cook has only led to further defeats.

As it now seems that Cook will be in charge for the foreseeable future, we can only hope for a radical rethink from the manager if Latics are to escape the drop.

The manager must review his current tactics, team selections and produce a strategy for survival plus the board must act ambitiously in the transfer window.

An experienced striker is a clear priority as well as additional defensive cover.

It is still possible for Latics to escape relegation but it can only come from a radical change in approach from Cook and some key additions to the team.

Posted in Andre Ayew, Championship, Nathan Byrne, Paul Cook, Rhian Brewster, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong – The Game’s Greatest Myths and Untruths by Kevin Moore

What You Think You Know About Footballi is Wrong

The former director of the National Football Museum Kevin Moore has produced a challenging and revelatory new book which debunks many of the myths and assumptions about football.

In 50 short chapters Moore shatters many of the strongly held beliefs of football fans. His entertaining commentary is generally supported with hard facts and statistics although occasionally he does stray onto more subjective ground.

Usually he gets it right. It is surprising to know that the ball did cross the line in the 1966 World Cup final but that England did not win the World Cup fairly. Cambridge and not Sheffield is home to the world’s oldest football club. The Germans do not always win on penalties and it’s not a game of two halves.

He zips through the long list of revelations and we have to reassess many of our own assumptions. Occasionally his assertions are more contestable, for example, when he states that Premier League players are not overpaid.

“So what’s behind the view that footballers are overpaid? It is simply prejudice against the kinds of people who become Premier League players, who tend to be working class and not well educated.”

I would argue that this is not necessarily so, and the bigger issue for many people is their disproportionate salary compared to average people in society.

It is not that footballers shouldn’t be able to earn a good salary but that the sums earned are now at ridiculous levels. Premier League players’ astronomical earnings cannot be morally justified when some people are earning so little and we have such high levels of poverty.

When Moore sticks to the less subjective we learn plenty of new facts, such as: FIFA does not make the rules and never has; there is overwhelming evidence that referee’s decisions are biased towards the home team; and it is not artistry that made the Brazilians the best but science.

Concerning the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar in 2022, Moore debunks the myth that it will be too hot to play football. The stadiums will be air-conditioned and temperatures should not exceed 28 degrees C or 82 degrees F.

Previous World Cups have been held in much higher temperatures. So although there may be may be many other good reasons for not holding the World Cup in Qatar (human rights, slavery of migrants, illegality of homosexuality etc.) temperature is not one of them.

Probably the most telling statistic in the book is that most football managers make no difference at all and the simple fact is that modern football is all about money.

“The richer the club, the more it has to spend on buying the best players and paying top wages to attract these players. Statistically, the more the club spends on wages, the more successful it will be. The correlation between wages and league position in the Premier League and Championship is as high as 87% in one study, 92% in another, leading to the conclusion that it’s around 90%. It’s a simple as that. That leaves the manager’s role as able to explain only up to a 10% difference – better or worse – to this.”

Food for thought and that’s what’s so good about this book as it challenges many of those long held and preconceived beliefs about football. It would be a worthwhile addition to any football fan’s library.

What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong – The Game’s Greatest Myths and Untruths by Kevin Moore, published by Bloomsbury, Price £12.99.

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

Posted in Book Reviews, Championship, Kevin Moore, Late Tackle magazine, Premier League, Wigan Athletic, World Cup | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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