Northampton Town 0 Wigan Athletic 1
It was not a game for the purists, but Callum Lang’s opportunist goal after 82 minutes was enough to give Latics the points. The ground staff at the Sixfields had done a great job in keeping the pitch only barely playable in the freezing conditions. The result was a hard, bumpy surface, making skilful football very difficult for both teams. The hoof became the norm: Latics did produce flashes of good football, the Cobblers very little.
With Tom Pearce possibly out for the long term and Jamie Proctor having to self-isolate, Leam Richardson wisely shuffled his lineup and tactics. Adopting a line of three central defenders provided the height and physicality to withstand Northampton’s aerial attacks.
Lang was moved to centre forward and for most of the game he was in the shackles of the Cobblers’ physical back line, chasing long balls. It is to his credit that he seized his moment to take his chance in a manner reminiscent of Will Grigg of yesteryear, racing on to Luke Robinson’s headed clearance to outpace two defenders and score with aplomb. It had been a game with few real chances for either team the best one for Wigan coming to Thelo Aasgaard early on, his shot hitting Lang.
Latics had taken the field with two 19-year-olds in their lineup. Robinson has played for Scotland at U18 and U19 levels, but it was his first league start for Wigan. Aasgaard, brought up in Liverpool and with a Norwegian father, represented Norway at U16 level. He is a class act and last night showed the glimpses of skill and physical presence that will make him a key player for Latics.
After the game Richardson commented:
“You know what you’re going to get from Keith Curle’s team and Northampton did put it to us in many ways. You’ve got to be up for meeting that challenge. My challenge to the lads was to make sure we were better than them in every area, which allowed us to impose our little bits of quality that we always felt we could get in certain areas.
We’ve set our criteria out, we know our aims and we’ve spoken about them now for a while. We’re a new group even in the middle of a season and our numbers are continually reduced, with Tom Pearce’s injury and Jamie Proctor’s positive Covid test after such a good debut.
Our lads are always training and learning, and that showed with Luke Robinson getting his full debut – he was outstanding. He’s played a massive part in us keeping a clean sheet and he’ll certainly remember his first 90 minutes for us.”
Let’s take a look at how fans reacted to the match through the message boards and social media. Our thanks go to the Vital Wigan – Latics Speyk Forum and Twitter for providing the media for the posts below to happen. Thanks go to all whose contributions are identified below:
Victor Moses commented:
The pitch was terrible, players falling over all game. Slipping, ball getting stuck in their feet. They were very direct, most players struggled to control the ball especially Keane, his was woeful.
Both of Langs goals he’s spun the defender before finishing nicely. Had more to do this time but took that goal very well.
Forgot to mention Aasgaard, played really well tonight. Whilst all the other players struggled to control the ball he was tidy and creative. Much better then we’ve seen from Gardner recently. Robinson did solid a lwb, Darikwa defended excellently.
Wigan tried to play on the deck occasionally but the pitch was horrendous (the ball bobble waist height on a simple 10 yard pass at one point) so we ended up hoofing it and just don’t have the players for that tactic.
Northampton were set up for the hoof from the off, but Tilt and Johnston particularly battled well, and we managed to limit their chances.
Both teams were poor, but I felt we could have been much better if we’d been playing on a bowling green, whereas I felt they peaked no matter what the conditions.
Skem Tic added:
For me that was a hard earned but well deserved win, Northampton looked like a team that were playing away against top of the league opposition. They appeared to be playing for a draw from about the fifth minute and became difficult to break down and were getting away with plenty of fouls, as usual we got no help from the usual Poor referee.
Langs goal was great, the strength he showed holding off two defenders pushing and pulling him back it would have been easy for him to go down, glad he didn’t the as it would have been waved away as a coming together by the ref!
Defence were much better tonight and the whole team looked like they wanted to play. Man of match for me Curtis Tilt! Keep it up Latics!