He has only been at the club for some two weeks but Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has already stamped his mark upon Northampton Town. Well organised, tight in defence, looking for a breakaway goal they were the spitting image of his Burton Albion side a couple of years ago.
Gary Caldwell’s team lost at home to Burton in November 2015, after they could not find a way through the visitors’ defence and conceded a 74th minute goal through counterattack. But against Northampton, Latics were to win, courtesy of a stunning 55th minute goal from Michael Jacobs and resolute defence, which included a brilliant reaction save from Jamie Jones from Leon Barnett’s effort in the 75th minute.
Latics had not played well, but the three points gained from the 1-0 victory propelled them up to second place in the league table.
Let’s take a look at some points arising from the game.
The orchestrator was sorely missed
Gary Roberts was on a hiding to nothing when making his first Wigan Athletic start in the absence of Nick Powell. When Roberts signed from Portsmouth to join his old teammate, Noel Hunt, there was talk of cronyism on the part of Paul Cook. But although Hunt’s role this season is likely to be largely peripheral, Roberts is likely to feature on a regular basis. Roberts had been criticised at Pompey for being over the hill, no longer having the legs to make an impact on a game. But he proved his doubters wrong in this match, putting in a solid shift for 84 minutes, despite having so little time on the field in recent weeks.
But Powell was sorely missed. He is the orchestrator of Wigan’s best football, his intelligent passing and movement being the catalyst for bringing out the creativity of his teammates.
Thank goodness that Dan Burn stayed
There were rumours over the summer that Burn might be going to a Championship club. But if any one player is crucial to Wigan’s promotion hopes it is he. Burn does not only provide an aerial presence, but his anticipation and timing make him a formidable player in League 1. Cook is not a manager to applaud individual player’s performances, but even he had to comment that the player was “absolutely outstanding” against Northampton.
7,777 turned up for the match
It was the lowest league attendance so far this season, the best having been 9,685 against Portsmouth. Prior to the season starting there had been grumbles about ticket prices, some suggesting that attendances would plummet as a result.
However, after four home games up to this point the average attendance is 8,828. After four home games in the 2015-16 season the average was 8,464.
3 goals conceded in 8 games
Cook’s approach is the most attacking that we have seen since the halcyon days of Paul Jewell. However, a measly 3 goals conceded from 8 games shows that they can certainly defend too.
Sam Morsy is suspended
Morsy is the first player in the four tiers of English football to be suspended this season for an accumulation of five yellow cards. Moreover there have been times when it has looked like the player would receive a second yellow in the same game.
Cook clearly believes that Morsy is being targeted by opposing teams. However, he also concedes that “if you take that competitive edge away from Sammy, he wouldn’t be the same player.”
The result is that the captain will not be available for the difficult trip to Peterborough on Saturday. Max Power is the most likely to take his place.