December 8, 2021: Wigan Athletic 2 Shrewsbury 1
Why are these midweek home games so difficult? Latics were playing a team in the lower reaches of the table, with no away victories in League 1 this season.
But after getting off to a flying start with an opportunist goal on two minutes from Tendayi Darikwa they struggled and the visitors were playing the better football, their equaliser in the 39th minute being no great surprise. Wigan improved in the second half but had to wait until the 93rd minute for Thelo Aasgaard’s long range winner.
Leam Richardson had left Stephen Humphrys on the bench with Callum Lang playing at centre forward. The manager once again gave a vote of confidence to Gavin Massey, playing him on the right wing in preference to Gwion Edwards and Jordan Jones. Joe Bennett came in for his League 1 debut.
Latics have now gone 10 games without defeat and are level on points with Rotherham at the top of the table, but with a game in hand. Capable of really incisive finishing and dogged defending this Wigan team is not always pretty to watch, being more pragmatic in their approach than aesthetically pleasing.
In the absence of Charlie Wyke and with Humphrys being out of favour we saw Lang being used in a role that does not suit him. Too often he was left to chase wayward long balls from the centre backs that were easily gobbled up by the Shrews defence. It was a like a throwback to the darker days of the Championship when central strikers like Josh Windass had such awful service from the defence.
There was always a strong element of long ball in the Cook/Richardson era. It was at its best when the balls were well targeted with a big target man there to hold off the defenders, as it had been this season with Wyke playing that role. We saw it close to its worst last night with defenders taking the easy option of “playing it long” rather than work the ball through midfield. Lang is not Wyke: he needs the ball at his feet, not hooved above his head.
No matter what the style of football is on display it is results that football managers are judged on. Richardson’s team is resilient, and they wear the opposition down so that as the second half progresses there is always a chance of a late goal. Shrewsbury looked tired in the closing minutes, with stoppages that might have given weary legs some respite. Latics have a solid goalkeeper, tenacious defenders and capable midfielders who protect the defence. In Callum Lang and Will Keane, they have players who can both score and create goals, with James McClean looking a class above League 1 level on the left.
After the match Leam Richardson commented: “It was a great finish to the game and a great start to the game. I didn’t think we were great in the first half; we weren’t able to force Shrewsbury into a negative shape because we kept turning the ball over. I thought we came out for the second half and controlled large parts of it and with good habits you will get them moments where your flair players need to produce and thankfully tonight young Thelo Aasgaard has produced. We want to be expressive and expansive and score those types of goals but then we don’t want to be disrespectful with the ball and with ourselves and have a first half like tonight, because we have set good standards and it certainly won’t happen again.”
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:
Great start to the game, crisp, sharp & quick passing got us a well worked lead within 2 mins of the start, just a shame we didn’t keep it up but I’ll take an injury time winner all day…..we weren’t at our best but managed to secure the 3 points which they say is the sign of a good team. Was impressed by Joe Bennett but less than impressed with JM’s & his misplaced passes, hopefully just a bad day at the office…..there were a few Latics players guilty of misplaced passes but perhaps that’s down to the terrible conditions & it was nice to get the ‘winless midweek at home’ monkey off our back.
Not gonna lie, we are one of the worst sides in this league passing the ball, Shrewsbury look like Barcelona compared to us, it’s quite incredible how Leam gets results out of this squad. No disrespect to them but there are 4/5 better squads in this league, just hope we can keep up those results till the end.
Sometimes it looks like the pitch is to big for us.
Joe Bennett has been outstanding so far.
Good point this. I respect that Tilt is very good in the air, but it feels like he’s a got a big mistake in him at some point and it also feels like he’s far too easy to wind up which will lead to him getting sent off one day.
As a matter of fact, I hate the chopping and changing of our centre backs in general. It’s never healthy doing that in my opinion as it makes it impossible for the full-backs and keeper to build a solid understanding and rapport with them, especially at set pieces. It’s no coincidence that we’ve stopped keeping clean sheets since Leam started tinkering with the CBs every game.
The crowd was poor, but expected. It’s a UCL night before Christmas payday and has been absolutely p..ing down non stop for two days straight. That rain will have knocked hundreds off the gate tonight I bet.
Agree. I thought Massey worked hard and showed some nice touches. He was our most attacking player tonight. I think McLean can be forgiven one bad game after the blood, sweat and tears he has put into the rest of the season so far.
I am getting a bit concerned about Will Keane’s prolonged drop in form. He was class up to the last 5 games but seems too easily marked out of the game recently. Aasgaard had another cracker although there were times when he looked like he was in the back four he had to come so deep for the ball.
Can someone explain why our back four, when presented with 20yards of open field in front of them still feel the need to pass either sideways or back to Amos. Bl..dy infuriating.
Short Pass sideways, short pass backwards, repeat and hoof (straight to the opposition) … simple !
Just like watching Dunkley playing in the Championship albeit the current crop keep the ball in the stadium.
Shrewsbury were effective at filling the spaces and did have 11 players behind the ball for long periods of time. Tricky to break down and the players that you would expect to assist there not stepping up.
Naylor’s passing was poor in the first half too.