Latics late show stuns Rotherham – Wigan Athletic 1 Rotherham United 0

Will Keane's header drew Latics level

Will Keane’s headed a last gasp winner

  • In the first competitive match at the DW Stadium for nearly 18 months there was an emotional atmosphere amongst the fans.
  • Phoenix 2021 Ltd Chairman Talal Al Hammad was able greet the fans for the first time and the kick off had to be delayed by 10 minutes.
  • Rotherham thought they had earned a point but in the fifth minute of added time Will Keane headed home Max Power’s free-kick to secure Latics’ first three points of the season.
  • The Millers manager Paul Warne referred to Latics as a ‘Harlem Globetrotter’ team in his post match comments. 

Leam Richardson made three changes to the starting line-up from the previous game league at Sunderland, with Luke Robinson, Stephen Humphrys, and Kell Watts replacing Tom Pearce, Gwion Edwards, and Adam Long.

Latics started brightly in an electric atmosphere, Charlie Wyke broke down the left wing and crossed for the unmarked Keane, but the striker fired his volley wide of the target.

Rotherham responded and Joshua Kayode’s strike from the edge of the penalty area took a deflection and went narrowly wide.

The Millers were well organised and their strong physicality made it difficult for Latics to get a grip in midfield.

The visitors went close again when Jamie Lindsay’s strike from the edge of the area forced a good save from Ben Amos.

Chiedozie Ogebene was causing problems down the right hand side and his deflected shot forced another save from Amos low down to his left.

Probably the best opportunity of the half fell to Rotherham when Amos’ punch only found Lindsay on the edge of the six yard box, but the midfielder blazed his effort over the crossbar.

Wyke then had a chance for Latics just before half-time when he dispossessed Dan Barlaser on the right and hit a low shot from a tight angle, which Viktor Johansson did well to save.

Rotherham started the second half confidently and Tendayi Darikwa did well to divert Ogbene’s dangerous cross behind with attackers lurking. 

Latics rejigged the defence on 56 minutes, with Jordan Cousins coming into midfield, Power moving to right back and Darikwa to left back as Robinson was withdrawn.

The hosts should’ve been ahead in the 65th minute, Tom Naylor headed across the box and Keane with the goal at his mercy didn’t make a proper contact and the ball was headed wide. 

Soon afterwards the visitors had a great chance to break the deadlock when Barlaser headed Michael Smith’s cross against the crossbar and then the post, much to Latics’ relief.

With five minutes of added time remaining Latics pushed forward for the vital breakthrough. 

In the 95th minute Callum Lang was brought down on the left hand side and from Power’s free-kick Keane ghosted past the Millers back line to head past Johansson and cue ecstatic scenes of celebration. 

In his post match comments Rotherham manager Paul Warne rather amusingly referred to Latics as a ‘Harlem Globetrotter’ team. Suggesting that he thinks Latics are a team of superstars!

Paul Warne

Post match Leam Richardson was rather more circumspect about Latics’ chances of success given the current level of development of the two teams.

“I thought the fans helped us and Rotherham, in my opinion, are going to be in the top three/four. Paul Warne has done a fantastic job and has got them out of the division twice and they’ve been together for five or six years and it shows.”

“We’re at the total opposite end of the spectrum where our lads are totally in the infancy of everything that they are doing and experiencing most things for the first time together.”

This was an important first win on a very emotional day for everyone associated with the club. After the traumas of administration, the arrival of Phoenix 2021 and the likeable Chairman Talal Al Hammad has given everyone a massive boost.

The club is now moving in the right direction but only time will tell how quickly they can achieve the success that everyone craves.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Leam Richardson, Paul Warne, Rotherham United, Talal Al Hammad, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Early days for the new-look Latics – Sunderland 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic

View from the away end

  • Wigan Athletic started brightly at the Stadium of Light and went ahead after 15 minutes when Will Keane’s strike came back off the post and Gwion Edwards scored on his debut.
  • The Black Cats were level two minutes later following the award of a controversial penalty by referee Bobby Madley – Aidan McGeady converting the spot kick.
  • Latics struggled for cohesion in the second half and the hosts edged the three points when Ross Stewart headed home from a corner.
  • It had been a battling performance by Latics but with such a new-look squad it was perhaps inevitable that they would take some time to settle.

It was great to be back watching live football after the Covid restrictions and the club’s administration problems and Latics were backed by 2,000 followers in a crowd of 31,549 at the Stadium of Light.

The kick off was delayed by 15 minutes due to traffic problems and Latics had the better of the opening period. They went close on three occasions, first when Callum Lang set up Tendayi Darikwa whose shot was blocked in front of keeper Lee Burge and then the follow up from Edwards was also cleared before Power’s goal-bound 25-yard strike was headed away.

The visitors deservedly went ahead on 15 minutes with a well worked move down the right-hand side. Captain Tendayi Darikwa pushed forward and set up Will Keane on the edge of the box. His right footed volley struck the post before Edwards followed up and curled the ball into the top corner.

But the Black Cats were level two minutes later following a harsh penalty award against Darikwa by controversial referee Bobby Madley whose dubious decision-making was evident throughout.

Darikwa was shoulder to shoulder with Stewart and the forward went down easily under the challenge.

The decision was to be the turning point in the game and Latics never managed to recover.

Madley did Latics no favours last season when he failed to give a penalty for a foul on Callum Lang against Hull City and has previously been criticised for his refereeing for making too many dubious decisions by former Premier League referees Keith Hackett, Graham Poll and Mark Halsey in the 2017/18 season.

The hosts went close to taking the lead four minutes later when Tom Flanagan’s header was well saved by Ben Amos from Aidan McGeady’s corner.

Tom Pearce then kept the scores level when threw his body in front of Elliot Embleton’s volley after a sustained period of Sunderland pressure.

But Latics responded and went close as Wyke linked up well with Lang who cut the ball back for Power on the edge of the area only to see his effort deflected over.

Ten minutes before the break the hosts should have gone in front as McGeady chipped the ball towards the edge of the six-yard box, where Embleton headed over when he looked odds on to score.

Latics started the second half slowly and the hosts were ahead following a corner on 54 minutes. From Embleton’s corner Stewart was allowed to glance a header past Amos.

As the second half progressed Sunderland grew in confidence and Latics struggled for cohesion. Instead of building through midfield Latics resorted to the long straight ball up to striker Charlie Wyke and they were unable to get down the flanks and get crosses in from wide positions.

Just after the hour mark, Stewart had a great chance to double the lead, but his header at the back post was wide of Amos’ left-hand post.

Sunderland continued to threaten and on 66 minutes Lynden Gooch curled an effort against the crossbar.

At the other end, Latics broke forward and with options left and right the welsh winger Edwards fired a powerful effort at Burge from 25-yards, the keeper was only able to parry the shot but the danger was eventually cleared.

Jordan Jones, Stephen Humphrys and Jordan Cousins replaced Tom Naylor, Keane and Edwards as Latics went in search of the equaliser but they were unable to carve out any clear-cut chances and Sunderland secured the three points.

A disappointing opening day result but it was perhaps inevitable with eight debutants that Latics didn’t always gel together. It’s very early days for the new squad and Leam Richardson will want more time on the training ground and with so many new recruits it will take awhile before everyone gains a real understanding.

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Aidan McGeady, Bobby Madley, Gwion Edwards, League One, Ross Stewart, Sunderland, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wigan Athletic season preview – the big push for promotion

Leam Richardson Wigan Athletic
Leam Richardson building a strong team – photo courtesy of Wigan Athletic

After a traumatic period of administration and a relegation battle Latics go into the new season with renewed optimism.

Manager Leam Richardson has had to do a major rebuild of the squad with only six players under contract, but he has recruited very well during a hectic close season and they look likely to make a big impact in League One.

The new Bahraini owners Phoenix 2021 have backed Richardson in the transfer market bringing in eight new players so far, with probably six or seven more required.

Pre-season has been excellent with five wins out of five. Positive vibes are emanating from the training ground and the team spirit appears to be very good.

With a multitude of new signings the club has reinvigorated the fanbase and expectations for the new season are high.

Latics’ Chairman Talal Al Hammad tweeted about the commitment required to build a new team in such a short space of time.

Talal tweet

Latics pulled off something of a transfer coup when they managed to recruit Sunderland’s top scorer Charlie Wyke on a free transfer. Wyke was League One’s second highest goalscorer last season but Sunderland just couldn’t match Latics’ contract offer.

Latics have also recruited one of the top goalkeepers in League One. Former Manchester United reserve goalkeeper Ben Amos has been brought in from Charlton Athletic and will provide stiff competition for club captain Jamie Jones for the number one spot.

Defensively Latics are strong at left-back with Luke Robinson and Tom Pearce competing for the starting place and at right-back Zimbabwean Tendayi Darikwa has signed permanently after impressing during last season’s greatest of great escapes.

In the centre of defence 24-year-old Jack Whatmough has been secured after Portsmouth were unable to match Latics’ contract terms.

There’s plenty of competition for places in midfield with former Latic Max Power returning from Sunderland, 27-year-old Jordan Cousins signed from Stoke, defensive midfielder and former Pompey captain Tom Naylor and talented young Norwegian Thelo Aasgaard.

Up front striker Stephen Humphrys is one of the few players to have been recruited for a fee from Rochdale. The 23-year-old scored 12 times for Dale last season and will be challenging for a starting place alongside last season’s top scorer Will Keane, Callum Lang, Gavin Massey, Charlie Wyke and former Wales U21 international winger Gwion Edwards who has been recruited from Ipswich.

Off the field the club has strengthened the coaching staff with the addition of experienced Assistant Managers Rob Kelly and James Beattie plus goalkeeping coach Darryl Flahavan.

It may take awhile for the new team to fully settle and to absorb Richardson’s playing instructions but given the calibre of players I’m expecting a top six finish.

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Review: The Accidental Footballer by Pat Nevin

Accidental Footballer cover

Pat Nevin’s memoir is a tremendously entertaining read. The former Chelsea, Everton and Tranmere Rovers footballer, writer and broadcaster wasn’t the typical professional footballer – he loved playing the game – but wanted a career as a teacher and had many outside interests. His win bonuses went on records, attending gigs, theatre, movies, galleries and travelling.

The memoir is focussed primarily in the 1980s and 90s before the advent of the Premier League. Nevin’s working class background in Glasgow and his Socialist principles and concern for others are evident throughout.

Nevin is an outsider, unorthodox and obsessed with alternative music. He forms a close friendship with the DJ John Peel and like Peel, he closely follows the careers of bands like Joy Division, Simple Minds, Orange Juice and the Cocteau Twins. Nevin is more likely to do an interview with the New Musical Express than a football magazine. 

There are many illuminating stories and humorous anecdotes, for example when he moves to Everton and buys a house in Chester, he is offered opera tickets for a Pavarotti concert by an Everton fan who turns out to be a burglar. Later he is asked,

“How are you enjoying 23 Elizabeth Crescent in Chester? I have told all the lads not to visit and, by the way, your alarm systemis rubbish.” ‘Welcome to Liverpool!’

Nevin doesn’t conform to the typical drinking culture of the period and at Everton he was often at loggerheads with the manager Howard Kendall.

‘ …I felt it was incumbent on every player to be in the best condition he could be in, to provide the best performances for people who had paid good money and invested so much time, effort and emotion. Surely if a professional sportsperson you should be able to hold back from abusing alcohol, at least during the week?’ 

Nevin’s working class work ethic and commitment to his sport/craft mean that he is sometimes at odds with some of his colleagues. He acknowledges his tirelessly worthy side when he is voluntarily working for the PFA.

When he leaves Everton, he has the option of a lucrative move to Galatasaray but in typical Nevin fashion he takes a step down to enjoy his football at Tranmere Rovers.

This is a refreshing and joyful story of someone who didn’t want to be a professional footballer but just wanted to play football. Nevin successfully managed to enjoy the benefits of the profession without suffering the pitfalls. Despite all the money and attention in the modern game he still believes that it is possible to do this and cites Juan Mata as a great example.

The Accidental Footballer by Pat Nevin. Published by Monoray. Price £20.

This review first appeared in the August/September 2021 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

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

Summer Reading 2021 – The Best Football Books

Bookshelf3

Here’s my recommendations of the best football books of recent months for reading on the beach or by the pool. Kick off the summer with one of these great reads.

All Crazee Now – English Football and Footballers in the 1970s by David Tossell

David Tossell’s story of English football in the 1970s, ‘All Crazee Now’ is a special treat for nostalgists and football connoisseurs. This tour de force of 512 pages including Index, Endnotes, Acknowledgements and Roll of Honour is an engrossing account of football and footballers set against the backdrop of the political, cultural and economic events of the time.

After Extra Time and Penalties – Memories of a BBC Football Correspondent by Mike Ingham

Former BBC football Correspondent Mike Ingham’s autobiography is a thoughtful homage to the golden age of sports broadcasting. His own broadcasting experiences saw him attend eight World Cups, commentate on twenty-eight FA Cup Finals, work with ten full-time England managers and introduce Sports Report.

British Football’s Greatest Grounds – One Hundred Must-See Football Venues by Mike Bayly

Mike Bayley has put together a splendidly eclectic collection of 100 British football grounds with a rich commentary and high-quality photographs. The book covers a breathtaking range of ground types from the humble homes of the non-league minnows to the mega-stadiums of the Premier League.

Extra Time – 50 Further Delights of Modern Football by Daniel Gray.

Daniel Gray’s ‘Extra Time’ is a particularly welcome follow up to ‘Saturday 3pm’ at a time when many of us are unable to attend football matches in person. Gray follows the format of his previous work with short well-crafted chapters about why football is so uniquely special. He reminds us about the shared joys, habits, eccentricities and peculiarities of the game with chapters such as comebacks, not being able to sleep after a night match, being in an empty ground and songs unique to your club.

Luka Modric My Autobiography

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.

Out of the Darkness: From Top to Rock Bottom: My Story in Football by Matt Piper

Matt Piper’s autobiography is a tale of the rise, fall and redemption of a professional footballer. Piper was a rising star at Leicester City and Sunderland but his career was prematurely cut short by a succession of injuries and he had to retire at the age of 24. ‘Out of the Darkness’ tells the story of what happens when the dreams of being a top professional footballer turns sour and when deep depression descends post football.

The Mavericks – English Football When Flair Wore Flares by Rob Steen

An updated edition of Rob Steen’s evocative examination of the stars of football in the 1970’s has now been published. The Mavericks are the seven Englishmen who followed the trail-blazing superstar George Best: Stan Bowles, Tony Currie, Charlie George, Alan Hudson, Rodney Marsh, Peter Osgood and Frank Worthington. They were crowd pleasers and entertainers who were worshipped at club level but were sadly under-represented at international level winning only 46 England caps between them.

There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross

This fictional account of gritty Scottish working-class life and football in the 1990’s is a deeply immersive experienceThrough a stream of consciousness narrative, the obsessions of a young man are played out in an unforgiving environment. The crazy world of junior football in Ayrshire provides the backdrop but this novel is centred around one man’s struggle for redemption.

Thou Shall Not Pass – The Anatomy of Football’s Centre-Half by Leo Moynihan

Leo Moynihan’s ‘Thou Shall Not Pass’ is a wide-ranging exploration of football’s centre-half position. I have personally always preferred the role of striker and the glory of scoring goals but this story of centre-halves provides a welcome insight into their vital role in any team. Centre-halves are often overlooked and misunderstood and Moynihan’s book explores the mindset of the traditionally bruising hard man, determined on destroying the opposition’s attacks.

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

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.

Who Are Ya? 92 football clubs and why you shouldn’t support them by Kevin Day

Broadcaster, comedian and Crystal Palace fan Kevin Day provides a light-hearted and entertaining tour around the 92 football clubs and a few who have now dropped out. The format for each club is as follows: a couple of quotes from disparate characters such as comedians, broadcasters or famous footballers; a couple of pages about the history of the club in question; some anecdotes; a little about the successes and failures of said club; plus a few bullet points about ‘Why You Shouldn’t Support Them.’

Whose Game Is It Anyway? Football, Life, Love and Loss by Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin’s latest book is part memoir, part a reconnection with football after falling out of love with the game. Written at a time of Covid-19 and when football has never seemed so distant from the fans he looks to the future and links back to the past to reconnect. He recounts his experiences from major sporting events and on meeting the big players from around the world to show us how football can be better. 

Posted in Book Reviews, Football Book Reviews, Summer Reading, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Review: There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross

Theres only one Danny Garvey cover

This fictional account of gritty Scottish working-class life and football in the 1990’s is a deeply immersive experience. Through a stream of consciousness narrative, the obsessions of a young man are played out in an unforgiving environment.

The crazy world of junior football in Ayrshire provides the backdrop but this novel is centred around one man’s struggle for redemption.

The protagonist Danny was a 16-year-old footballing prodigy. Professional clubs wanted to sign him and a glittering future beckoned. But his early promise was to remain unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw Bridge to manage the struggling junior team he once played for.

What’s more he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, thirteen years earlier, that changed the course of several lives.

David F. Ross paints a dark picture of the small-town working-class life with violence, drugs, alcohol abuse and criminal behaviours all around. Danny is traumatised by his childhood experiences and his return to Barshaw is an attempt to rebuild his life. Football provides an escape from his dysfunctional family.

‘Football is a coping mechanism regardless of the domestic carnage that was going on around him. Danny always focused on the pitch. Watching him play, you’d never have known about the problems he had; about the overdoses witnessed, or those endless bouts of screaming at his brother.’

Danny’s role as manager helps the football club to improve and offers hope to the local community but his personal relationships with his dying mother and brother prove deeply problematic.

Danny’s family are well summarised in this passage. ‘A collection of fragile, damaged adults unable to communicate with each other. Repeating the behaviour of their parents.’

Damo, the autistic son of his brother and estranged girlfriend Nancy offers hope of a better future for Danny, but will it come to fruition, or will he be overcome by Barshaw’s demons? 

Even assuming the accuracy of Ross’s research, the violence and extreme behaviours in Scottish junior football in the 90’s is still quite shocking and goes way beyond what many people could imagine.

It is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel and we are absorbed in Danny’s search for redemption. Will Barshaw Bridge FC defy the odds and win the Cup and will Danny start a new life at Ross County in the Highlands of Scotland?

The social realism is hard hitting throughout and may be off-putting to some, but this is one of the best football related novels of recent years. 

There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F.Ross. Published by Orenda Books. Price £8.99.

A version of this review first appeared in the June/July 2021 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, David F. Ross, Late Tackle magazine, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Review: Whose Game Is It Anyway? Football, Life, Love and Loss by Michael Calvin

Whose Game is it anyway cover

Michael Calvin’s latest book is part memoir, part a reconnection with football after falling out of love with the game. Written at a time of Covid-19 and when football has never seemed so distant from the fans he looks to the future and links back to the past to reconnect.

He recounts his experiences from major sporting events and on meeting the big players from around the world to show us how football can be better. 

At the beginning he has fallen out of love with football.

‘Worn down by its negativity, venality and elitism. I reached the point where anger was exhausted and was ready to surrender to apathy. I loathed the institutional bitterness and ignorance of social media, on which everyone has to have an opinion, however bigoted or uninformed. I despaired of football’s hysterical high priests and its bloodless bureaucracy.’

He goes back in time to pre-World Wide Web to world events and football that are intertwined in his memory. John Lennon’s death, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Heysel Disaster demonstrate that football requires context, care and consideration. 

Calvin moves on to other sports like rally driving, boxing, athletics and sailing and the narrative loses a little momentum, but he powerfully returns to football with Bobby Charlton after the Munich Air Disaster. 

There are worrying stories of how some football Academies take young talent and discard it too easily causing mental health problems for young players.

‘…This was the key element in my falling out of love with football, it was too rapacious, too casual in diminishing the damage it created.’

The chapter about the demise of Bury FC and the rebirth of AFC Bury is particularly affecting. Long-time fan James Bentley provides an emotionally charged account of what he has lost.

‘Gigg Lane is like a ghost town. When I go there now, it physically hurts. I could do the walk there with my eyes closed. I know every bump in every paving slab. Until expulsion, it was a part of my life for 31 years, to the day. I know it sounds cliched but you just stand there, go through all the goals, the saves, the great moments you had with your mates when you were a teenager.’

Calvin reconnects with football when he celebrates an Accrington Stanley goal.

‘I realised, then, how much I had missed that release of emotion that accompanies a beautifully struck leather ball, hitting the taught side panel of a net. Club colours didn’t matter; this was an Everyman experience.’

The book is a timely reminder of why football is so much more important than the selfish Super League clubs.

It is an illuminating journey of discovery and we end on a positive note suggesting that there are some Premier League agents-for-change like Marcus Rashford, community-led clubs like Lewes, Accrington and AFC Wimbledon who offer real hope for the future of football.

Whose Game Is It Anyway? Football, Life, Love & Loss by Michael Calvin, published by Pitch Publishing, Price £19.99. 

This review first appeared in the June/July 2021 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, Late Tackle magazine, Michael Calvin, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The big rebuild with Leam Richardson and Phoenix 2021

DW Stadium line

Wigan Athletic survived a traumatic season of administration and a relegation battle but they will go into the close season with renewed optimism. The new Bahraini owners Phoenix 2021 have steadied the ship and have pledged to rebuild the club with the aim of a return to the Championship.

Manager Leam Richardson has the task of rebuilding the club’s squad with only five players – Tom Pearce, Luke Robinson, Adam Long, Callum Lang and Thelo Aasgaard – currently under contract at the DW Stadium. 

Richardson managed to pull together a group of players in the January transfer window to keep the club in League One and his achievement should not be underestimated.

A combination of Academy youngsters, short-term contracts and loanees enabled the club to survive in the most difficult of circumstances.

Many of those players could provide the backbone to a successful new season under the new owners but they will also need to add extra quality if they are to make a promotion push.

Latics have two good goalkeepers in captain Jamie Jones and Wales U21 international Owen Evans but they should recruit another goalkeeper to push for the first-choice spot.

Former Latics loanee Christian Walton has been released by Brighton and would make a great addition, although there will be strong competition for his signature from Championship clubs.

In defence Latics are lucky to have two excellent left-backs in Tom Pearce and Luke Robinson and a young centre-half in Adam Long but they should look to recruit centre-back loanees Curtis Tilt from Rotherham and George Johnston from Feyenoord.

Zimbabwean right-back Tendayi Darikwa did an excellent job on a short-term contract and is another who should be signed on a permanent basis.

In midfield Latics will do well to retain Lee Evans, who is reportedly wanted by Paul Cook at Ipswich. If he leaves, they will need another creative midfielder and a midfield enforcer in the Samy Morsy mould.

They should also sign Funso Ojo from Aberdeen and offer contracts to young midfielders Chris Merrie and Alex Perry who did so well in early season. 

In the forward line, they should recruit this season’s top scorer Will Keane, tricky winger Viv Solomon-Otabor and strikers Kyle Joseph and Joe Dodoo, but they should also try to re-sign Will Grigg from Sunderland.

Despite having a difficult time with the Black Cats, Grigg demonstrated his goalscoring abilities during his loan at MK Dons and would provide a huge boost for the Latics fanbase.

Richardson will also be looking to make good use of the loan market and will be scanning the young prospects at Premier League and Championship clubs for that extra special player.

As far as outgoings are concerned, Corey Whelan, Scott Wootton, Gavin Massey, Dan Gardner, Zach Clough and Jamie Proctor may all be surplus to requirements as Richardson looks to bring in more new players to build a promotion chasing team.

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Latics’ disappointing end to a momentous season – Wigan Athletic 3 Swindon Town 4

Will Keane's header drew Latics level

Latics’ top scorer Will Keane added his eleventh goal

* It was a strange end of the season game as Latics dominated for long periods but were ultimately edged out 4-3 by relegated Swindon Town at the DW Stadium.

* Latics went ahead when Curtis Tilt headed home Dan Gardner’s corner on 17 minutes and they doubled their lead on 56 minutes when Will Keane slotted home after good work by Gardner and Zach Clough.

* Swindon pulled a goal back through Scott Twine’s superbly executed free kick on 59 minutes but Latics almost immediately restored the advantage with Clough flicking Keane’s strike into the visitors net.

* The game turned in the visitors favour on 66 minutes when last man Tilt was adjudged to have fouled Tyler Smith and was red carded.

* The visitors pulled another goal back on 77 minutes when Jonathan Grounds found Hallam Hope in space and the striker finished into the bottom left corner and they were level in the 90th minute when Hope’s cross was headed home by Smith.

* Ten-men Latics had now lost all shape and solidity and the visitors achieved an unlikely victory when Twine found the bottom right corner from 25-yards out.

* Latics finished the season in 20th place one point above the relegation zone and Swindon ended the season in 23rd place.

Leam Richardson made two changes from the team which had been defeated by Hull City with Gardner and Clough coming into the starting eleven. Viv Solomon-Otabor dropped out of the squad and Lee Evans was on the bench.

Already relegated Swindon had former Latics loanee Matty Palmer in the starting eleven.

Latics started strongly and forced six corners in the opening five minutes and Swindon were lucky to survive but the hosts did go in front on 17 minutes.

From Gardner’s seventh corner Tilt rose high at the near post to head powerfully past Lee Camp.

Twine volleyed wide for the visitors on 27 minutes before Latics had a series of great chances. Joe Dodoo blazed over from 12 yards out and then drilled a shot narrowly wide from close range before Callum Lang headed wide at the back post.

Pitman forced the first save from Jamie Jones low down to his right on 40 minutes but Latics should have been more than one goal ahead at half time as Clough curled a free kick just over and Lang’s header clipped the top of the crossbar.

Early in the second half Tendayi Darikwa curled his shot over the angle of post and crossbar before Keane increased Latics’ advantage on 56 minutes when he scored his eleventh goal of the season following Gardner’s through ball and Clough’s assist.

Twine superbly executed free kick from the edge of the box made it 2-1 on 59 minutes but Latics went straight up the other end and restored their lead when Lang cut the ball back to Keane whose strike was flicked home by Clough.

But the game changed in the visitors favour on 66 minutes when last man Tilt was adjudged to have fouled Smith on the edge of the box and was sent off.

Scott Wootton replaced Gardner as Latics reshuffled their line up on 67 minutes.

Swindon could see an opportunity now and Grounds through ball found Hope in space on 77 minutes and the striker finished clinically.

Thelo Aasgaard, Jamie Proctor and Kyle Joseph replaced Clough, Dodoo and Keane on 79 minutes but Latics had now lost their shape and lacked defensive midfield cover.

Jones was quickly off his line to deny Smith and Johnston also had to make a great block on Smith as the visitors pressed.

Latics had lost all momentum and Swindon levelled in the 90th minute when Hope’s cross was headed home by the Sheffield United loanee Smith.

Worse was to come for Latics as two minutes later Twine tried his luck from distance and found the bottom right corner.

Joseph might have restored parity in the 93rd minute but he dragged his shot wide from a good position.

4-3 to Swindon and a disappointing last game of the season for Latics.

Despite the defeat the manager, coaching staff and players can be proud of their efforts this season. This has been one of the most difficult in Latics’ history and retaining their League One status is an incredible achievement in the circumstances.

The club has been saved from oblivion and the supporters can now look forward to next season with renewed optimism under the new owners.

League One Table

League One Table

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Posted in Hallam Hope, League One, Scott Twine, Swindon Town, Wigan Athletic, Will Keane, Zach Clough | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latics greatest of great escapes as Hull are Champions – Hull City 3 Wigan Athletic 1

Leam Richardson

Leam Richardson has done a magnificent job to keep Latics in League One

* Despite spending most of the season in administration during a pandemic Wigan Athletic retained their League One status after Rochdale and Northampton lost their games.

* Latics matched Hull at the KCOM Stadium for most of the game but the hosts ran out 3-1 winners and were crowned Champions of League One at the final whistle.

* The Tigers went ahead after 17 minutes through Keane Lewis-Potter’s diving header but Latics drew level two minutes later when Joe Dodoo scored from close range from Will Keane’s cross.

* The hosts restored their advantage on 22 minutes when Malik Wilks back heel set up George Honeyman who drove his shot under Jamie Jones.

* The visitors were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty just before half time when Callum Lang was brought down in the box but referee Bobby Madley bizarrely waved away Latics’ players appeals.

* Latics enjoyed plenty of possession in the second half but the hosts consolidated their lead when Josh Magennis headed home from close range following a short corner routine in the 66th minute.

* Latics are in 20th place with one game remaining and have defied the odds to secure their League One status while Hull City are League One Champions and promoted to the Championship.

Leam Richardson named an unchanged starting eleven for the trip to the KCOM Stadium. Latics former loanee Callum Elder was in the Hull starting eleven and former loanee Reece Burke was on the bench.

Latics made a confident start against the League leaders and Dodoo had a goal bound effort blocked after nine minutes.

The hosts then created a great chance when Elder’s cross found Magennis inside the six-yard box a minute later but the striker failed to hit the target from close range.

At the other end Lee Evans drove his side-footed strike narrowly wide on 14 minutes and Callum Lang might’ve had a penalty when he was pushed over in the box on 15 minutes but referee Madley wasn’t interested.

Two minutes later and the hosts went in front when Honeyman’s cross to the back post was headed home by Lewis-Potter.

Latics were level two minutes later as Keane made excellent progress down the left hand side before cutting into the box and crossing for Dodoo to finish from close range.

It was an end-to-end game and the hosts restored their lead on 22 minutes when Wilks back heel set up Honeyman who drove his shot under Jones to make it 2-1.

Evans’ free kick from the edge of the box was well saved by Matt Ingram on the half hour mark as Latics pushed to get level.

Card happy referee Madley wasn’t doing Latics any favours and on 48 minutes Lang went down under a challenge in the box but bizarrely the referee waved away Latics’ players appeals.

2-1 to Hull at half time but Latics were desperately unlucky to be behind after Madley waved away two strong penalty appeals and they’d matched the League One leaders in the first half.

Latics enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages of the second half with the hosts being pegged back into defence.

Viv Solomon-Otabor’s cut back to Evans was deflected wide on 62 minutes and from the resulting corner Curtis Tilt blazed over from twelve-yards out.

But the Tigers extended their lead on 66 minutes following a short corner routine. Wilks headed back across goal and Magennis headed home from close range.

Richardson made five changes changes as the match moved towards its conclusion. Kyle Joseph replaced Solomon-Otabor, Thelo Aasgaard replaced Keane, Dan Gardner replaced  Lang, Jamie Proctor replaced Dodoo and Zach Clough replaced Funso Ojo, but Latics couldn’t reduce the deficit.

However, it didn’t matter as results came in and Rochdale had lost at home to Doncaster and Northampton had lost at home to Blackpool and Latics were safe from relegation.

It was an incredible achievement by Leam Richardson, Gregor Rioch and the rest of the coaching staff to keep Latics in League One in the most difficult of circumstances.

Latics have had some amazing escapes in the Premier League years but this was surely the greatest of great escapes.

The club has been in administration for most of the season and nearly went out of existence during a pandemic.

But in adversity, Leam trusted and believed in the players he recruited and those he selected. He wanted everyone to feel part of the Latics family.

He instilled a responsibility to give 100 per cent through the performances. He showed the players there was an important cause to commit to and they have delivered the results on the pitch.

The prospects for next season now look bright under the new ownership of Phoenix 2021 and with Leam Richardson as our permanent manager in charge.

League One Table

League One Table

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

Player ratings courtesy of Whoscored.com

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