Charlie Hughes destined to play at the top level

Charlie Hughes

Charlie Hughes is making a big impact in the Championship after playing just 15 games for Wigan Athletic.

The 19-year-old ball-playing centre back has stepped into the first team following a succession of injuries to Latics’ central defenders and has quickly established himself as one of their best performers.

Hughes looks at ease playing against some of the top attackers in the league and is comfortable in possession. For someone of his age he is already very mature and handles himself very well both on and off the pitch.

The Wigan born defender was formerly with Manchester City and Liverpool youth set-ups but joined Latics’ Academy as an U14 and became captain of the U18s in the 2021-22 season.

The 5’ 10.5” defender is proving to be yet another high calibre product of the Academy, which has produced several players who have gone on to sign for Premier League clubs.

On 7 September 2021, he signed his first professional contract with the club but he recently extended his contract until 2027.

He only made his first team debut with the club in a 1–0 EFL Trophy win over Arsenal U21s in January 2022.

He made his Championship debut against Middlesbrough on 22nd December 2022 but has quickly become a mainstay of Latics’ defence.

The club are going through dark times both on and off the pitch but Hughes has been a shining light.

Manager Shaun Maloney commented recently, 

“We’re scrapping for our lives and we’ve got a 19-year-old boy leading the way.”

“He’s got a really big future, and he’s a really, really good lad as well.”

“He works hard, he takes on information, and he will go a long way.”

Given Latics’ current precarious position at the bottom of the Championship, the club should be concerned that he could be soon be lost to a Premier League club.

My personal view is that he has the capability to play at a higher level than the Championship and he is still improving as a player. 

Hughes is a strong defender who is a good header of the ball, is pacey and reads the game very well. He is confident and calm young man, and he displays good leadership qualities.

It is still very early in his career, but he certainly has the attributes to be successful in the Premier League. 

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Spirited Latics pick up a point – Wigan Athletic 1 Coventry City 1

Charlie Hughes – magnificent in defence

  • Relegation threatened Wigan Athletic produced a spirited performance in a 1-1 draw with playoff chasing Coventry City at the DW Stadium.
  • The visitors threatened through Gustavo Hamer and Matt Godden but the hosts were much improved from recent displays and matched the visitors in the first half with Daniel Sinani twice forcing good saves from keeper Ben Wilson.
  • Early in the second half the visitors were ahead when goalkeeper Ben Amos hesitated to come off his line and Victor Gyokeres headed his 18th goal of the season.
  • Despite the setback they battled hard to get back into the game and they were rewarded when Ryan Nyambe’s shot was deflected into his own net by Kyle McFadzean.
  • Latics move off the bottom of the Championship table and are effectively six points from safety due to an inferior goal difference. The Sky Blues remain ninth and are four points outside the playoffs.

Shaun Maloney made five changes to his line-up after the defeat to Burnley on Saturday. Steven Caulker came in for the suspended Omar Rekik, whilst Christ Tiehi, James McClean, Danel Sinani and Will Keane all returned to the starting XI.

The visitors started confidently and from a 30-yard free-kick Gustavo Hamer forced Ben Amos into tipping the ball over the crossbar.

Matt Godden then fired straight at Amos, before Sinani tested keeper Wilson with a low strike from the edge of the box.

Godden then had a header sail over the crossbar before Max Power fired over from 30-yards.

Sinani was proving to be a threat and he again tried his luck from 30 yards, but Wilson got down well tip it wide for another corner.

It was end-to-end stuff as Hamer put through Sean Maguire who rounded Amos, but Charlie Hughes did superbly to clear off the line.

Latics again went close as Tendayi Darikwa’s side footed strike from inside the box was blocked.

Maloney’s men had probably edged the first half in a game with plenty of chances at both ends.

Mark Robbins made two changes at half-time as the visitors needed to up their game.

Early in the second half Godden fired over over from 25 yards. Then on 52 minutes Max Power gave the ball away in midfield, Jake Bidwell’s cross from the left found Gyokeres in the box and as Amos hesitated to come out for the cross the Sky Blues leading scorer headed into the net.

Maloney made three changes on 61 minutes as Tom Pearce, Thelo Aasgaard and Josh Magennis replaced Ashley Fletcher, Darikwa and Tiehi.

Magennis had an opportunity soon afterwards and although he failed to get a shot on target, he found James McClean at the back post but the Republic of Ireland winger slipped at the vital moment and the chance went begging.

Substitute Callum Lang did well to evade several defenders before firing a dangerous low cross which was met by Keane, but keeper Wilson managed to collect the ball at the second attempt.

Latics eventually got their reward for their hard work with seven minutes remaining. After some concerted pressure, Keane fed Nyambe inside the box and his shot was deflected off McFadzean and into the Coventry net.

Both sides tried for the winner but neither team could get the upper hand and the game finished level. Latics had perhaps lacked the quality to win the game but they had shown great spirit and commitment against a strong team pushing for the playoffs.

All the Latics players had given 100 per cent effort, but Hughes, McClean and Nyambe in particular had been excellent.


Latics players and staff are still awaiting payment of their wages after the club failed to pay them for a fourth time. They are now facing a three point deduction from the EFL, which if enforced this season could effectively relegate the club.

There is no doubt Latics are in difficult times both on and off the pitch but the players and staff have showed their commitment to the cause in the last few days with a hard-working performance against Coventry. 

There have been reports that Maloney will travel to Bahrain at the weekend to meet up with the owner. The owner Mr Al Jasmi needs to give Maloney and his staff reassurances about the future financing of the club and commit to no further late payment of wages.

It has to be hoped that Maloney stays in charge going forward. After rallying his players in difficult times he deserves the opportunity remain as manager, whether it be in the Championship or League One.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking to the media after the game, Maloney complimented his side for their first-half performance and their efforts throughout the 90 minutes to do themselves and the supporters proud.

“In the first half, I really liked (the performance) during large parts,” he said.

“We were still a little bit too open on the counter attack for my liking, but in terms of how good we were on the ball and how aggressive we were in the final third, I was happy.

“I think the biggest disappointment was not going into half-time leading the game. 

“Coventry were very good at the start of the second half, as they made changes and stopped how we could play. 

“We never got started, and I had to make the game very open to try and get back into it. We cannot fault what the players are giving us. 

“When the ball goes in, we have five players in our box. Our structure should never allow a free header, and it did. We have to defend the box better and get back to how we were in the first five games to win games.”

It has, without doubt, been a difficult few days for everyone associated with the Football Club, and Maloney credited the players for their desire to try and get all three points at the DW Stadium.

“It’s been a unique situation, but I cannot be critical about the players at all. They gave absolutely everything to try and win that game, and not get beat. That’s the bare minimum that the support requires and they can see that from the players. 

“You could feel the connection between the fans and the players and we have to keep going.”

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Posted in Championship, Coventry City, Kyle McFadzean, Shaun Maloney, Victor Gyokeres, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Desperate times both on and off the pitch for Wigan Athletic – Burnley 3 Wigan Athletic 0

Kick off at Burnley

  • Wigan Athletic remain rooted to the bottom of the Championship table after they were outclassed 3-0 by Premier League bound Burnley at Turf Moor.
  • Southampton loanee Nathan Tella headed Burnley’s opener after 14 minutes and Latics were reduced to ten-men on 29 minutes when Omar Rekik was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
  • Despite being under the cosh Latics wasted two good opportunities to draw level through substitute Steven Caulker and Ashley Fletcher.
  • Early in the second half the hosts doubled their lead when Tella struck again. Burnley had chances to add further goals before South Africa international Lyle Foster completed the scoring on 75 minutes.
  • Off the pitch it’s been a dreadful week for the Latics after news was released that the Bahraini owners had not paid wages for the fourth time and this is likely to result in a three point deduction.
  • Latics are bottom of the table and effectively seven points from safety due to an inferior goal difference. Burnley are 13 points clear at the top of the table and are 16 games unbeaten in the league.

Shaun Maloney made five changes from the original line up against West Brom with Ryan Nyambe, Tom Pearce, Tom Naylor, Callum Lang and Josh Magennis all starting.

The Clarets attacked from the kick off and their first effort at goal was saved by Ben Amos from Johann Berg Gudmunsson’s 25-yard strike.

Rekik picked up an early yellow card as he brought down Tella.

The woodwork saved Latics on 11 minutes when Anass Zaroury drove a low shot against Amos’ near post.

Soon afterwards Latics frustratingly gave the ball away trying to play out from the back and Zaroury crossed from the right for Tella to head past Amos at the near post.

Burnley were rampant now and they should have doubled their lead on 20 minutes when Tella went through down the right but he fired his shot wide of the far post.

Latics’ day became much more difficult when Rekik foolishly got sent off on 27 minutes for a second yellow card after a late tackle on Tella.

It was one way traffic and Amos produced a spectacular save to tip over Ian Maatsen’s 20 yard dipping shot.

But against the run of play Latics had two good opportunities to draw level before half-time.

First Tendayi Darikwa’s cross was headed at goal by substitute Steven Caulker but the Burnley keeper Arijanet Muric made a point-blank save.

Then a poor back pass put Ashley Fletcher in the clear down the left but his strike towards the far corner was well saved by Muric.

Latics needed to try and contain Burnley in the second half and hope to hit them on the break.

But it took less than two minutes for the hosts and Tella to double their advantage. A corner found Tella free inside the six-yard box and he headed home.

Burnley continued to press forward and Amos saved from Ashley Barnes from close range before Zaroury fired wide of the far post.

Zaroury should have made it three on the hour mark, but fired over with just Amos to beat after a flowing move from the Championship leaders.

Maloney made three changes on 67 minutes as Christ Tiehi, Thelo Aasgaard and Will Keane replaced Max Power, Ashley Fletcher and Callum Lang.

But the onslaught continued from the home side as substitute Foster had an effort fly wide and soon afterwards he volleyed in a third goal from the edge of the six-yard box.

Latics had defended valiantly with ten-men but the difference in class between the two sides was for all to see.

Maloney will now have the difficult task of trying to regroup his troops and raise morale for Tuesday night’s fixture against Coventry City at the DW Stadium.


Latics were second best in this fixture against a very strong Burnley team who will be playing in the Premier League next season.

The gap in quality was clear from the kick off – a team buoyed with parachute payments and some highly paid loan signings – against a League One bound team lacking in confidence and psychologically drained by a fourth late wage payment.

Credit should go to Latics players for their effort and commitment but following Omar Rekik’s irresponsible second yellow card the result was never really in doubt.

Off the field matters continue to escalate badly. The club held a fans forum this week which painted a positive picture going forward. But on Friday at midnight the owners released a press statement saying that the staff hadn’t been paid for the fourth time and now risked a three point penalty from the EFL.

The fans have previously been fed superficial or misleading answers to important questions about the club’s finances and stability.

It now seems that Phoenix 2021 Ltd have liquidity issues which could be masking even more serious issues about the owner Mr Al Jasmi’s ability to fund the club. 

It is clear that the poor football decisions and financial mistakes by the ownership have put the club in a precarious position.

  • The sacking of Leam Richardson and the appointment of the inexperienced Kolo Toure and the associated costs of both sackings.
  • The limited player investment when the club were promoted from League One.
  • The four late salary payments in nine months, due to liquidity issues, which is likely to result in a three point deduction from the EFL and which could effectively relegate the club.

Chairman Talal Al Hammad bizarrely attempted to ease the fans’ worries using an AI-generated statement (via @slacktheplanet) on Saturday night.

Despite such reassurances, after being let down by the owner’s before, the fans fear the club will go into a second administration in the space of three years.

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Shaun Maloney said,

“It’s been a difficult 48 hours or so. In terms of on the pitch I was super proud of the last half hour.

“Once you go down to ten men they are a very difficult team to play against and the players and supporters showed resilience. There’s pride, which is not always the case after a 3-0 defeat, but [there] definitely was today.

On club’s wages problem: “The lead-up to the game and preparation definitely affected not just the players but the support, staff, stadium staff and training ground, so it was an emotional couple of days, very difficult.

“It’s a position I don’t think any of us expected to be in so it’s really difficult. It was difficult to train and prepare – the things off the pitch become bigger.

“For the last half hour the fans sang after me and the team and for what the players gave I am super-proud.

“When the CEO relayed it to us and the players it was the same reason they put in the statement. We’re hoping it’s a short-term situation.”

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Posted in Burnley, Championship, Lyle Foster, Nathan Tella, Shaun Maloney, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lacklustre Latics back to the bottom – West Bromwich Albion 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Shaun Maloney with plenty to contemplate

  • Wigan Athletic slipped back to the bottom of the Championship table after a 1-0 defeat at play-off chasing West Bomwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
  • After a tentative opening period West Brom went ahead when Latics keeper Ben Amos could only push Jayson Malumby’s effort onto the crossbar and Daryl Dike had an easy task to head home from close range.
  • The Baggies had further chances to seal the points and hit the woodwork on four occasions.
  • Latics rallied in the latter stages and threatened the Baggies goal with substitute Tom Pearce forcing an acrobatic save from goalkeeper Josh Griffiths.
  • Latics drop to the bottom of the table on goal difference after Huddersfield secured a point against Bristol City. West Brom move up to ninth and are four points off the play-offs.

Shaun Maloney had to make an enforced change to his starting line-up at the last minute when Jack Whatmough picked up a knock in the warm-up and was replaced by Ryan Nyambe. Tendayi Darikwa and Will Keane also came into the starting XI from Saturday’s draw with Birmingham City.

In a very tentative opening period both sides seemed reluctant to commit men forward and take any chances.

However the best chance of the opening quarter came to the Baggies, as a low cross from the left found Jayson Molumby free inside the six-yard box, but he misdirected his effort wide.

The hosts went ahead on 27 minutes when Molumby played a one-two and fired a shot from a narrow angle which Ben Amos disappointingly could only palm onto the crossbar. Dike was on hand to head home from close range.

West Brom might’ve added to their lead soon afterwards when Dike found space in the box and fired powerfully towards goal but fortunately the strike was straight at Amos and the Latics keeper was able to clutch the rebound.

Latics were under the cosh now and the Baggies captain Dara O’Shea should’ve added to their lead but he headed over from 10 yards when unmarked at the back post following a free kick from the left.

Maloney’s men looked intimidated by their opponents and they offered little going forward. The strikers were out of sorts and Keane’s poor strike, which was well wide of the target just before half-time, typified their lack of confidence.

Maloney made a double change at the break. Christ Tiehi was replaced by Thelo Aasgaard whilst Joe Bennett came on for Nyambe.

The Baggies maintained their dominance however, and early in the second half Amos did well to deny Conor Townsend from 30 yards with a save low down.

Jed Wallace might’ve added to the hosts lead on 52 minutes when his strike crashed against Amos’ near post and away from danger. 

Josh Magennis replaced Keane on 66 minutes and the Northern Ireland international had a rare chance when Fletcher’s cross to the back post found him but the striker was unable to keep his header down.

Maloney encouraged his players to go forward in the latter stages and Darikwa’s cross fell to Fletcher on the edge of the box, but his effort was blocked before substitute Aasgaard tested Griffiths with a low drive from the edge of the box, which he palmed away at his near post.

The Baggies then went close at the other end, with Amos saving low down, before the ball found John Swift inside the box. His strike crashed against the crossbar and Latics survived.

At the other end Magennis then found space in the box, but his header from James McClean’s cross was straight at Griffiths.

In added time, Latics thought they had grabbed an equaliser when Danel Sinani’s pass found substitute Pearce inside the box, but his side-footed volley was acrobatically tipped over by Griffiths.

Maloney’s men had threatened in the latter stages but they had been second best for most of the game and they could easily have lost by more than one goal.


Latics had been unlucky to be without centre back Jack Whatmough who was injured in the warm-up but their performance in the first half was unacceptable. They showed little evidence of any commitment or desire in the opening period.

Christ Tiehi who has been impressive since joining on loan was out of sorts and once again struggled to make any impact. If he is injured that is understandable, but his performance levels have dropped significantly in the last two games.

Callum Lang’s continued absence means Latics have limited options in the final third and although Fletcher and Magennis do their best they are not the quickest or most mobile of attackers. Top scorer Keane is also out of form and struggling for confidence. 

Latics stood off their opponents for long periods during the game and failed to build any real momentum. The Baggies could easily have been three ahead at half-time. Confidence is clearly now very low as they have only won one of their last 16 games.

Maloney’s men did improve following the substitutions and did at least threaten towards the end of the game, but overall their lacklustre performance had just not been good enough.

The prospect of facing Championship leaders Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday now looks an even more daunting proposition.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Shaun Maloney said,

“The first-half performance was not really what we’re looking for given the position we’re in.

“In the second half there was a lot more intent in the way we tried to attack and we created chances.

“Of course we can get out of it and the mood is good but we can’t afford to drift again like we did in that first half. That won’t happen again.

“Burnley on Saturday will be a challenge but we just have to give what we can, as we did in the second half here, and then I can’t ask any more from the players.”

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Posted in Championship, Daryl Dike, Shaun Maloney, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Topsy-turvy Tics – Wigan Athletic 1 Birmingham City 1

Ashley Fletcher equalised for the Tics

  • It was a confusing Wigan Athletic performance as they drew 1-1 with relegation rivals Birmingham City at the DW Stadium.
  • The visitors were ahead after just four minutes when Christ Tiehi committed an unnecessary foul on the edge of the box and Juninho Bacuna curled a superb free-kick over the wall and past Ben Amos.
  • Latics didn’t really threaten in the first half but top scorer Will Keane replaced Tiehi at half-time and they were much better in the second half.
  • They deservedly equalised on the hour mark when Ashley Fletcher turned home James McClean’s cross.
  • The Blues responded and they hit the woodwork three times in quick succession. First Scott Hogan hit the bar with his controversially awarded penalty, before Tahith Chong hit the foot of the post and then Maxime Colin headed against the post.
  • Keane had a late opportunity to take all three points when he rounded goalkeeper John Ruddy but his effort from a tight angle could only find the side netting.
  • Latics move off the bottom of the Championship table but they are  effectively seven points from safety because of an inferior goal difference. Birmingham are in 19th place and are seven points above the relegation zone.

Shaun Maloney made three changes from the 2-1 defeat at PNE with Omar Rekik, Danel Sinani and Thelo Aasgaard replacing Tendayi Darikwa, Will Keane and Callum Lang in the starting line up.

Latics got off to the worst possible start and were behind after only four minutes. Tiehi committed an unnecessary foul on the edge of the box and Latics were punished from the resulting free-kick. Bacuna curled a superb free-kick over the wall and into the top right corner.

Latics were stunned to go behind so quickly in such an important fixture and they struggled to create much momentum in the first half.

Sinani tried his luck with a volley from the edge of the area, but his effort was wide of the target. Max Power fired a shot over the crossbar from 25 yards and Sinani’s strike from distance was easily saved by Ruddy but they had failed to create any clear-cut chances in the first half.

Maloney’s starting line up just hadn’t been working and he sensibly introduced Keane at half-time. The Latics top scorer almost had an immediate impact when he controlled Ryan Nyambe’s pass and turned before hitting a low shot towards goal, but Ruddy got down well to save at close range.

Latics positive start to the second half was rewarded when Fletcher levelled the scores on 60 minutes. Thelo Aasgaard fed James McClean on the left, whose low cross was well turned into the net by Fletcher.

It was the Watford loanees second goal of the season but he will need to score much more often if Latics are to avoid the drop.

Birmingham were almost immediately given a boost when referee Steve Martin controversially awarded a penalty.

Bacuna went down under an innocuous challenge from Nyambe and to everyone’s surprise referee Martin pointed to the penalty spot. Justice was done however as Scott Hogan’s resulting spot-kick crashed against the crossbar.

The Blues continued to press forward and they hit the woodwork again on two occasions as Chong and Colin both saw their efforts hit the frame of the goal in quick succession.

Latics had rode their luck but they could’ve won the game in the 71st minute when Keane rounded the keeper but unfortunately fired into the side netting from a tight angle.

Despite both teams being desperate for a victory neither could gain the advantage and the points had to be shared.


Latics made the worst possible start to this game and they were clearly unsettled after going behind so early.

Maloney’s team changes had not helped the cause in the first half as they struggled to create meaningful chances.

At least the manager realised they needed to make a change at half-time and introduce top scorer Keane. The Republic of Ireland striker hasn’t been at his best recently but he is still Latics most likely scorer and should be in the starting XI.

It was a confusing performance by Latics as they did some things very well, Jack Whatmough and Charlie Hughes were excellent in defence, but they lacked creativity in the first half and were toothless in attack.

In the second half they showed a more positive attacking approach and moved the ball much quicker. This has to be the recipe if they are going to claim the victories they so desperately need.

Latics have some difficult fixtures upcoming but they must try to upset the odds and record a victory very soon if they are to escape the drop.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney was quick to praise his side for how they responded to the early set back and fought until the very end of the encounter.

“I was really pleased with how we played,” he said.

“They had a penalty, and hit the post a couple of times in strange three-to-four minutes, but I thought we dominated the rest of the game.

“It was a brilliant free-kick, and you could see the dynamic of the game change.

“They gave us the ball, and it was up to us to go and break them down. Birmingham made it really hard to play, which is fine because they are in a similar position to us.

“It’s a different game from what we’ve had in the previous five, and it had a huge impact on the game. That’s why I’m so pleased with how the team played.

“We had to keep going, and even though the crowd got frustrated at times. That is what makes me most pleased, but I’m also a little bit disappointed that we didn’t win the game.

“If I could want more, it is to be more aggressive in the final third and have the belief that we can hurt teams. The game became a little bit open at times, but I’m pleased overall, even in a game which I thought we could’ve won. 

“One thing that today does show is that we are fighting until the last minute. The mentality was good after going 1-0 down against an opponent who tried to kill the game early in.

“We kept fighting and the intensity of how we played was still good. We have to now be ready for Tuesday.”

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Posted in Ashley Fletcher, Birmingham City, Championship, Juninho Bacuna, Shaun Maloney, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Latics unbeaten run comes to an end with dubious decision – Preston North End 2 Wigan Athletic 1

View from the away end

  • Wigan Athletic controversially suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to local rivals Preston North End at Deepdale.
  • Latics had taken a first half lead when Christ Tiehi’s cross was deflected over his own goal-line by Greg Cunningham.
  • Early in the second half Daniel Johnson went down under an innocuous challenge by goalkeeper Ben Amos and referee Thomas Bramall controversially awarded a spot-kick to Preston which was converted by Johnson.
  • Four minutes later the hosts went in front as a ball over the top allowed Tom Cannon  to run free and finish via the post.
  • There was late Latics pressure as they pushed for an equaliser with substitute Daniel Sinani going close on several occasions.
  • Substitute Robbie Brady was dismissed for a dangerous challenge on Jack Whatmough in added time.
  • North End held out for their first win in six league and cup matches and Latics suffered their first defeat under Shaun Maloney.
  • Latics remain bottom of the table and are effectively five points from safety with a game in hand on Cardiff. PNE move up to 12th in the table.

Maloney kept the same starting line-up following a goalless draw against Norwich City last week. Despite picking up an injury last week Whatmough was declared fit enough to start.

Latics started strongly right from the kick off and Will Keane found space in the North End box, he chipped the ball to Callum Lang at the back post, but he couldn’t get the ball under control and the hosts cleared.

The hosts first attempt was on 15 minutes when Ryan Ledson fired over from 25 yards. Soon afterwards Cannon cut inside from the left and fired a curling effort just wide of Amos’ post.

Latics went ahead after 27 minutes. Tiehi burst forward and played a one-two with Ashley Fletcher before firing a low drive across the box which hit defender Cunningham before crossing the goal-line.

Lang then drove a strike straight at Freddie Woodman from 30 yards out. Just before the interval he fired another low drive inches wide of the far post.

Latics had had the better of the first half, with Tiéhi once again impressive in midfield, and they deservedly led at half time.

The beginning of the second half started in controversial circumstances as North End’s first real attack resulted in a penalty. Amos went down to his knees to collect the ball and collided with Johnson and referee Bramall surprisingly awarded a spot-kick.

Johnson stepped up and converted the penalty to draw the hosts level.

North End were then ahead just four minutes later as a ball over the top found Cannon in the clear and the Everton loanee fired the ball in off the far post.

Substitute Tom Pearce replaced Tendayi Darikwa on 65 minutes and he soon produced a dangerous cross into Ashley Fletcher, but his volley flew over.

Lang was then played in by another substitute, Daniel Sinani, but Bambo Diaby got across to block the shot.

Latics were pressing hard for the equaliser now and Sinani had another shot from 20 yards deflected wide and then from the resulting corner, forced a good save from Woodman after a low drive from the edge of the box.

Maloney’s men were now throwing everything at the North End goal.

Sinani had a 30 yard free-kick curl over the crossbar before he was involved again in stoppage time, but volleyed inches wide.

Preston substitute Robbie Brady was shown a straight red in added time after a nasty challenge on Whatmough before Pearce cut in from the left and fired wide. 

Latics forced a succession of late corners, which saw goalkeeper Amos head into the opposition box, but Preston held out for the three points.


The penalty decision was probably the turning point in the game. Latics had been the better team in the first half and deservedly led at half time. The referee’s harsh decision had gifted North End a way back into the game early in the second period.

Latics defence had been caught out for the second goal with a long ball over the top but overall they had deserved to get at least a point at Deepdale. The visitors had 14 shots to the hosts seven and matched mid-table North End for possession throughout.

Maloney’s men have shown that they are capable of escaping the drop but they must be better in the final third if they are to rise away from the bottom of the table. Keane, Lang and Fletcher are all misfiring at the moment and they will need to be more clinical against Birmingham City next Saturday at the DW Stadium.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney felt that the key moments in the game cost his side dearly at Deepdale, and his side must now swiftly switch their focus to reacting in a positive manner for their next league fixture against Birmingham City.

“I felt we were a little unlucky, mainly due to the penalty decision,” he said.

“I still wasn’t pleased with how we played, and even going 1-0 up at half-time, I think we could’ve been a lot better.

“I’m disappointed with how we played and I don’t think we did enough to win the game. We didn’t play badly enough to lose it, but big moments in the game cost us.

“I don’t think it was a penalty due to the way the player ran into the goalkeeper, but what I found more disappointing is how they ended up in that area.

I will say the players have been excellent for four games, and in the first half, we defended extremely well. It’s just in those moments which we didn’t today, but I have to give them credit for the last four games.

“It’s a big first blow for the players under myself, and we have to all respond on Monday and keep fighting.”

Latics were backed by a large following for the local Derby at Deepdale, and Maloney was quick to praise the 3,500-plus supporters who made the trip to get behind his team.

“I thought they were brilliant today, and I appreciated every single one of them coming,” he said.

“I know it’s not easy at the moment to follow football teams, and I hope they saw a team that is fighting.”

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Posted in Championship, Christ Tiehi, Daniel Johnson, Preston North End, Shaun Maloney, Tom Cannon, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review – The Game: Player. Pundit. Fan by Micah Richards

The former Manchester City and England defender-turned-broadcaster Micah Richards has produced an upbeat and entertaining read.

Richards’ career highlights include winning the FA Cup and the Premier League title, as well as becoming the youngest ever defender to represent England, but after a career-ending injury he had to create a new life for himself.

He neatly sums up the modern game in this early paragraph. “The game isn’t what it seems from the outside. The game isn’t quite what I was expecting, when I first broke through, when I thought I was invincible. The game doesn’t always work like people of television think it does. The game is better, worse, and stranger than you can imagine, and that is coming from someone who saw it all with their own eyes.”

Richards provides interesting insights into dressing room politics, the different characters, and the rules of the dressing room at the top level. There are jealousies between players and the dressing room can be an unforgiving environment.

The players are extremely well rewarded and have glamorous lifestyles, but he knows lots of players who were earning eye-watering sums of money at the peaks of their careers, maybe £100,000-a-week, but have nothing now.

There are plenty of stories about managers such as Stuart Pearce, Roy Hodgson, Steve McClaren, Sven- Goran Eriksson, Manuel Pellegrini, and Tim Sherwood. You will learn about when Manchester City’s dressing room became a soap opera with volatile characters like Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Mario Balotelli, and Carlos Tevez.

There are also amusing anecdotes, for example when we learn about why Italian managers Fabio Cappello and Roberto Mancini don’t like Tomato Ketchup!

Richards is renowned as a happy character, but he has suffered periods of depression particularly when his career came to a premature end at the age of only 31. “Being a footballer isn’t just a very privileged and occasionally ridiculous job. It’s also an identity. It is who you are. When it comes to an end, you lose more than your income. I had no idea how to deal with it.”

Richards has luckily found a new career into which he has settled well. He is a very likeable pundit with a good sense of humour who is now working for BBC Sport and Sky Sports. He has managed to continue to work within football and is enjoying the close camaraderie that that lifestyle provides.

If you want to know about the life of a very well-paid Premier League footballer and now media pundit, this is the book for you.

The Game: Player. Pundit. Fan by Micah Richards. Published by Harper Collins. Price £22.

This review first appeared in the March/April 2023 edition of Late Tackle magazine.

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

Frustrating day for Maloney’s men – Wigan Athletic 0 Norwich City 0

Man of the match Charlie Hughes

  • Wigan Athletic were held to a 0-0 draw by play-off hopefuls Norwich City at the DW Stadium.
  • It was a frustrating afternoon for the hosts as they had had enough clear-cut chances to claim all three points but some poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping by Angus Gunn saved the visitors.
  • Will Keane had two great opportunities and Callum Lang another as Latics failed to make the breakthrough.
  • Despite adopting an attacking formation David Wagner’s team failed to trouble Latics keeper Ben Amos throughout.
  • Latics lost centre back Jack Whatmough to a serious looking injury on 34 minutes but substitute Steven Caulker made some important interceptions as the points were shared.
  • Latics drop to the bottom of the table on goal difference but they are still only three points from safety. Norwich remain in ninth place.

Shaun Maloney made two changes from the midweek draw at Bristol City, with Lang and Keane returning to the starting line-up in place of Thelo Aasgaard and the ineligible Danel Sinani who was unable to play against his parent club.

Latics started on the front foot and had an early chance when Lang chased a long ball over the top and outmuscled defender Grant Hanley, before driving a low shot towards the near post, but Angus Gunn did well keep out the effort.

Latics high press resulted in another opportunity just five minutes later. Norwich tried to play out from defence but only managed to give Keane a chance to drive into the area and shoot, but Gunn did superbly to come out quickly and make a point blank save.

With the Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny watching from the stands, Keane will have been frustrated not to take this golden opportunity.

Norwich had an attempt on goal in the 17th minute when Josh Sargent was free in the penalty area, but his low effort from a tight angle was comfortable for Amos to save.

The Canaries had another attempt in the 29th minute when former Latics loanee Kieran Dowell fired a low effort from 20 yards wide of the post.

Latics threatened again in the 37th minute with Lang again stealing possession from the visitors.

The energetic attacker played a one-two with Christ Tiéhi before seeing his long-range effort parried by Gunn. The rebound fell to Keane, but the Republic of Ireland striker couldn’t keep his effort down and the chance went begging.

In added time Max Power’s long throw caused Norwich problems and eventually fell to Lang whose volley into the ground was well pushed over the crossbar by Gunn.

An impressive first half display by the Tics, but despite the high press helping to create plenty of chances they hadn’t been clinical in the final third.

Norwich created the first opportunity of the second half, when Hanley’s header went wide of the post.

The second half was a much more even affair but neither team could take control and make a breakthrough.

Norwich pushed forward in the latter stages as Latics tired. Dimitris Giannoulis volleyed over from 20 yards out, but the visitors failed to trouble Amos with a shot on target.

Substitute Thelo Aasgaard tried his luck from 25 yards out, but his swerving effort was wide of the target.

Neither team could create a clear-cut opening in the second half and the points had to be shared.

Maloney’s men are now unbeaten in four league games and they will go into the local derby against PNE in confident mood.


This was another very good performance by the Tics. The improvement since Maloney took charge is quite remarkable. The team selection, tactics, organisation and commitment are light years away from Toure’s time in charge.

But Latics finishing against Norwich had let them down. They still need to improve in the final third with the normally prolific Will Keane not firing and Callum Lang and Ashley Fletcher only scoring one goal each all season.

I’m sure that Maloney will be working with his strikers during the week to improve their finishing against PNE on Saturday. If Latics are to escape the drop they will certainly need to be more clinical when the chances arise.

Charlie Hughes was my man of the match with another outstanding display. The 19-year-old defender shows tremendous maturity for a player of his age and he just seems to get better game by game.

Steven Caulker did well when he came on but the loss of Jack Whatmough to injury is worrying. Whatmough is probably Latics best player and any lengthy absence could be critical to their survival chances. Latics are already without injured defenders Jason Kerr, Martin Kelly and Omar Rekik.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney praised his side for their performance levels throughout and felt they could have put the game out of sight in the first half.

“I thought in the first half, we were brilliant,” he said.

“It was probably the best that the players have performed in my four games, and the biggest disappointment at half-time was not coming in two or three up. I felt like the chances were that good, and that we had played well, particularly out of possession. 

“I told the players – and I really meant it – that they were outstanding in the first half against a good team. 

“In the second half during the last 20 minutes, we had to defend again. There were a lot of tired players because they gave us absolutely everything. At that moment, we defended with our lives to get the point.”

From the very first whistle to the last, Latics were backed by the vocal home supporters, and Maloney expressed that their influence from the stands made a huge difference in helping them earn another invaluable point in their fight for Championship survival. 

“We needed the fans today. Everyone could see in the last 10 minutes that Norwich made numerous attacking substitutions, and we had to defend. In the last 10 minutes, we put everything on the line to get the point and everyone could see that. 

“It’s appreciated when the fans sing for us, especially when we give them a performance like that.”

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Maloney’s men edging closer to safety – Bristol City 1 Wigan Athletic 1

Ashley Fletcher equalised for the Tics

  • Wigan Athletic secured a vital point in their battle against relegation when they drew 1-1 at in-form Bristol City.
  • The Robins are now unbeaten in nine games but Latics matched their mid-table opponents throughout.
  • In a first half of few chances the hosts took the lead when Rob Atkinson headed home from Anis Mehmeti’s cross on 36 minutes.
  • Christ Tiehi’s superb side-footed strike clipped the top of the crossbar as Latics went close before half time.
  • Latics equalised in the 65th minute when Max Power’s cross found Ashley Fletcher on the edge of the six-yard box and the Watford loanee controlled the ball before finishing under Max O’Leary’s legs.
  • Alex Scott hit the crossbar with a header and Mehmeti’s cross hit the post for the hosts but Latics had worked hard to get another important result and are still unbeaten under manager Shaun Maloney.
  • Latics are now in 22nd place, two points behind Cardiff City with a game in hand. Bristol City are in 16th place in the Championship table.

Maloney surprisingly made two changes to the team that had defeated Huddersfield with Thelo Aasgaard and Ashley Fletcher replacing Callum Lang and Will Keane.

Nigel Pearson’s team had an early chance when Alex Scott cut inside and fired high over the crossbar from 25 yards.

Latics responded and after a good move between Daniel Sinani and Fletcher the big striker found Tendayi Darikwa, but unfortunately his low cross was blocked.

Latics continued to exert considerable pressure which resulted in a series of corners but they came to nothing. Neither keeper had had to make save until in the 36th minute the hosts went ahead. 

Following a short free-kick Anis Mehmeti chipped the ball in-between two defenders and centre-back Atkinson rose to head past Ben Amos.

Latics almost equalised on the stroke of half-time as Tiehi’s side-footed effort from from 25 yards hit the crossbar with keeper O’Leary beaten.  A lucky escape for the hosts.

Maloney made a triple substitution at the break as Keane, Lang and Tom Pearce came on for Aasgaard, Sinani and Darikwa. Nyambe moved to right back and Pearce came in at left back.

Latics were enjoying plenty of possession in the second half and forced several corners.

They drew level in the 65th minute when Power’s inviting cross found its way to Fletcher on the edge of the six-yard and he took a touch before finishing under O’Leary’s legs. 

The hosts tried to respond quickly and a cross into the box found Scott in space, but his header smacked against the crossbar and away.

A few minutes later the hosts hit the woodwork again as Mehmeti’s deep cross looped over Amos and struck the far post.

Bristol weren’t having it all their own way however, as Latics threatened when a Lang effort was denied at point blank range by O’Leary.

Substitute Tom Naylor made a superb block in the box in the 89th minute as Bristol went in search of a winner. But despite some late pressure and four minutes of added time Latics comfortably held on for a valuable point in their battle against relegation.


This was another improved team performance were everyone contributed but Christ Tiehi was especially tidy in midfield, picking the ball up from the defence, maintaining possession and keeping the ball moving. He also nearly got on the scoresheet when his first half strike hit the crossbar.

This was important step in Latics’ revival under Shaun Maloney. Taking on an in-form Bristol City at Ashton Gate and matching them is no mean feat.

The Scotsman has only been in charge for a few weeks but he has already galvanised the team and made them so much harder to beat.

A few weeks ago Latics looked dead and buried with Kolo Toure in charge, but they are now only two points behind fourth bottom Cardiff City with a game in hand.

There are difficult games ahead but the positive vibes coming from the manager and his coaching team mean there’s plenty of optimism  around the club. There’s still a long way to go, but with 15 games left the prospects are looking so much better.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards, Maloney was pleased with the performance levels that were on show in the second period, after he challenged his side to ‘show more personality’ in possession at the break.

“I’m very pleased,” he said.

“It was a difficult game, particularly in the first half. We had to make changes at half-time, and I was really happy with the second-half performance. 

“It turned into a scrap, but they gave me everything so I’m very pleased.

“I was really unhappy with the goal because we switched off during a set play. That can happen, but how we defended the box was the thing I was unhappy about, and the players knew that. 

“I think we can be better on the ball. At half-time, (I felt) we needed to show more personality, and I thought we did that.”

On Fletcher’s goal and superb shift leading the line, Maloney added,

“When he’s aggressive and shows everything he can, he’s going to be a threat, and I need that in every game from him. He can be happy with tonight but he needs to give us that every single game.”

Over 300 supporters made the long-haul midweek trip to back Maloney and his side at Ashton Gate, and the Gaffer was quick to recognise the immense dedication levels that was on show from the travelling Tics to get behind their team. 

“The fans were great again. I know it’s a long trip on a Wednesday night, and they’ll get home late.

“They were with us (all night) and we need them. Hopefully, they can see we are giving them everything.”

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Maloney’s men back in the mix – Wigan Athletic 1 Huddersfield Town 0

Jack Whatmough

  • Wigan Athletic secured a vital victory in their fight against relegation from the Championship with a 1-0 win against fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town.
  • In a game of few chances it was the visitors who looked the more threatening in the first half but the hosts improved in the second half.
  • After a period of late Latics pressure, Jack Whatmough’s 82nd minute header from a corner made the difference as they moved away from the bottom of the table.
  • Latics are now in 22nd place in the Championship table and one point from safety while Huddersfield are in 23rd place.

Maloney made two changes for his first home game in charge of the Tics, with Ryan Nyambe and Charlie Hughes coming into the starting line-up in place of Martin Kelly and Omar Rekik who both missed out through injury.

Maloney changed to a 4-4-2 formation with Hughes alongside Whatmough in the centre of defence, with Ryan Nyambe at left back and Tendayi Darikwa at right back.

In a tense opening period it was the visitors who threatened first when in the 21st minute Watford loanee Joseph Hungbo broke into the penalty area and shot from a tight angle, but Ben Amos made a superb one-handed save to deny him.

Latics responded soon afterwards when Whatmough met James McClean’s cross with an acrobatic overhead kick which was narrowly wide of the post.

The Terriers then had two opportunities in quick succession, first Fulham loanee Anthony Knockaert tried his luck from 20 yards out, but fortunately for Latics his strike was just wide of the post.

Hungbo then curled a free-kick towards goal from 20 yards out, but Amos got down low to make a good save.

It had been a closely fought first half with the Terriers looking the most likely to break the deadlock.

The visitors continued to threaten at the beginning of the second half with Tom Lees having an effort deflected wide of the post.

Latics needed to up their game and Maloney made a double substitution on 59 minutes with Tom Pearce and Ashley Fletcher replacing Captain Darikwa and Norwich loanee Danel Sinani.

The two changes seemed to have the desired effect and Latics created an opportunity after a free-flowing move. Nyambe delivered a dangerous low cross from the right-hand side, but it was well defended by Lees before it could reach Callum Lang in the box.

Latics then had a shout for a penalty when Lang’s knock-down struck the hand of a Town defender, but referee Gavin Ward waved away the appeals.

Latics now started to dominate and soon after Pearce’s dangerous cross caused all sorts of problems, Fletcher saw his header from McClean’s corner go over the crossbar.

The hosts got the vital breakthrough in the 82nd minute when McClean’s deep corner found Whatmough at the back post and the central defender powered his header into the back of the net.

The sense of relief from the Latics fans was palpable. It was now a case of ensuring that they now saw out the remaining minutes to gain the crucial three points.

They did manage to see out the remaining minutes relatively untroubled and their was a huge roar at full time as Latics moved off the bottom of the table.


This was Latics first win since November 12th last year and was crucial to their survival chances.

Maloney’s men had defended resolutely throughout but they had offered a limited threat going forward until Whatmough stepped up with the late winner.

Whatmough produced a man of the match performance and his goal topped off an excellent day for last season’s player of the year. Charlie Hughes also did extremely well in defence after the injuries to Martin Kelly and Omar Rekik and deserves to retain his place in the team against Bristol City in midweek.

Latics have not conceded in the two games with Maloney in charge but they will need to be at their best against an in-form Bristol City. They will also need to be better at the top end of the pitch as they were relatively limited going forward.

It’s most definitely a work in progress for Maloney but there is now a renewed optimism around the club.

Roberto Martinez’s teams pulled off some great escapes during his time in charge and there’s no doubt that Maloney has been greatly influenced by him, and if he can keep Latics in the Championship he will also have achieved something very remarkable.

Championship Table

Post match comments

Speaking afterwards Maloney was quick to express his delight after his side recorded a crucial victory over the Terriers.

The new manager was channeling Martinez’s calmness when he spoke to the media.

He wasn’t getting carried away after an important victory against a relegation rival. He’s clearly learned a lot from his time with the former Latics and now Portugal manager.

There’s still a big task ahead but the vibe he is creating is very encouraging.

“It was a big three points,” he said.

“Before the game, I tried to give the players a lot of calm feelings, because there’s been a lot of talk about this being one of the biggest games of the season. 

“I didn’t quite see it like that because we’ve got another 16 games to go, but it felt like a big result in the end. 

“I’m really happy for the players, and the support because they definitely stuck together today. 

“They (Huddersfield Town) had periods in the first half where they had more possession, but they didn’t create so much. 

“We also had moments in the second half without creating enough, but I thought we finished very strong and the momentum was with us, and that comes from the players and support. 

“I think there were moments where we got in good positions during the first half, and didn’t quite have that last touch or pass. 

“The lads have been through a very tough period during the last 16 games, and hopefully now with each point and win, we can get more confident and they can show the talent that they have.”

Maloney commented on the positive influence of the fans that can never be understated.

“I cannot underestimate the good feelings they’ve gave not just me but the players. I know there are moments where the game isn’t as fluent, but in fairness to the fans, they stuck with us. I really appreciate them and it makes a world of difference.”

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Posted in Championship, Huddersfield Town, Jack Whatmough, Roberto Martinez, Shaun Maloney, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments