Amigo and Social Media reaction to a woeful football game at Swindon

Swindon Town 1 Wigan Athletic 0

I did not have high hopes for Latics winning this game. In recent years Wigan have so often performed poorly against teams close to them at the top or bottom of a division, although Kyle Joseph’s epic hat-trick helped buck that trend fairly recently in a win at Burton. Moreover, Latics were fielding yet another new line-up in the centre of defence in Scott Wootton and Curtis Tilt, together with a debut for Funso Ojo in midfield. No time to gel.

After 17 minutes a lack of mutual understanding between the two centre backs allowed an unmarked Tyler Smith to head the ball at Jamie Jones who parried the ball away to an offside Brett Pitman to slot the ball home. It had been a dire game of football up to that stage and sadly for Wigan it got no better. Even though the home team were down to 10 men after Dion Conroy’s red card in the 64th minute Latics were toothless and devoid of imagination in attack. The midfield was static, as were the front three. More than anything else Latics seemed to lack the passion to get back into the game.

It was a frustrating game for Latics fans to watch, nothing more so than the sheer wastage of corner kicks. The quality of delivery of balls launched directly into the box from corners was woeful, but what was even more frustrating was a sterile routine on short corners, with the ball so often going back towards the half-way line, relieving pressure on the opposition defence. This is nothing new, but it was particularly frustrating in this game. A rethink needed from the coaching staff on the matter.

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

“It was a tough night. It took is 15-20 minutes for us to try and impose our style in tough conditions.The goal was very disappointing and then when they go down to 10 men, it’s about our decision making and asking the question of how can we be more productive?

Tonight wasn’t our night. The players were honest in their approach and we tried to play the right way, but we’ve got to be better with our quality and our end product.We’re disappointed with the goal, but when there’s change there are always going to be a few teething problems. We’ve changed again, drastically, and we aren’t blessed with great numbers to mix it up, but what we have got is an honest group who stand for each other in this situation. All we can do is continue to do our best for the club.”

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:

King_dezueew06 said:

Gardner didn’t bother closing down full back, Tilt didn’t pick up his man but Jones still should’ve done better. All deserve blame but Jones mucks up what should be routine saves too often.

True Believer responded:

Come on KDZ, the guy was left exposed again and actually made a snap save from a free header. That was never a routine save.

Once again the keeper will be ostracised for a complete shambles by the defence and blamed for a loss whilst the rest of the “toothless” team fail to get a shot on target.

The passing tonight was abysmal all sideways and backwards none of the midfield played a decent pass all night and because of this we failed to threaten a weakened defence after their CB and captain was sent off.


Too many people on here looking for a scapegoat and blinded by the fact that the keeper we have is L1 keeper and not a world class stopper.

FrancosLoveChild opined:

No excuses for that performance. Not buying the players need to gel or that we have a young side. Absolutely no fight for a relegation 6 pointer. Completely deserve relegation with torrid performances like that.

FormbyLatic stated:

I’m absolutely convinced that this is a confidence issue. The players are much better than the cr.p we saw tonight.

True Believer summarised:

TBH and getting away from the criticism of Jones we were absolutely clueless tonight. From back to front we didn’t help each other. The midfield were guilty of allowing runners to use the wings all game and failed to stop the crosses that were putting the CB’s under pressure.

The CB’s were asleep for the goal and the constant passing across the back slowed the game to walking pace and allowed the opposition to get their defence set.

Pearce was once again our main threat, but his throw in routine is crap. He ambles over to the ball and then waits to allow the opposition to mark up the runners before looking to play the ball. Darikwa on the other hand used Wootton on a good few occasions to get the ball back in play quicker.

Our forwards were static and gave the midfield no opportunity to play the ball to them. They should have been moving the CB’s around and making runs to break the line but instead stood in front of the backs giving them the time to make a challenge. When they did break the line the final ball was poor and often over hit allowing the opposition to mop it up and snuff out the threat.

All in all it was a poor performance and had Swindon had the confidence and players that Blackpool had we would probably have shipped more goals as in my opinion this was a worse performance than the one against the seasiders.

Hopefully we can put it right next time out and I still believe the players are capable of getting us the results we need
.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media Reaction to a well-earned point at Fleetwood

Fleetwood Town 1 Wigan Athletic 1

A spirited performance saw Latics share the points in a scrappy game played at a windy Fleetwood. Jamie Jones conceded another goal to a long shot: this time from Fleetwood’s Danny Andrew, but redeemed himself with a brilliant save at the death when Paddy Madden ran through the Wigan defence following an error from Tom James. Moments before Ollie Crankshaw had equalised in the 91st minute after Will Keane’s effort had been parried by Fleetwood’s Swiss/Canadian keeper Jayson Leutwiler.

We had a message on the Wigan Athletic site before the game started that we would not be able to get the usual commentary of Ashley Houghton and Tommy Gore due to technical issues at the Highbury Stadium. In the event Gore did materialise but together with a Fleetwood commentator who had difficulties in recognising the Wigan players and in pronouncing some of their names.

Latics had held their own defensively until the long shot went in after 28 minutes. Fleetwood continued to press but Wigan held them back. However, Wigan’s attacking intent was largely limited to hopeful long balls that were gobbled up by the home defence. Put simply, they did not look like scoring.

But Latics came out for the second half with more attacking intent and although the long ball tactic did not disappear it was interspersed with good football. After looking so confident in the first half Fleetwood dropped back in defence as Latics took the game to them. The late equaliser was a just reward for the sheer effort Latics had made to get a share of the points.

The point keeps Wigan off the bottom and within reach of safety from the relegation zone.

Following the game Leam Richardson commented:

“I thought the energy and endeavour – certainly in the second-half – was fantastic to see; we were playing on the front foot a lot more. The weather played a part but at half-time I said to the lads that I wanted to see them play with more belief because on the back of Tuesday’s result I think they were a little bit reserved and on the back foot, which I don’t accept.

Second half we played with a lot more freedom to get into their final third and make things happen. We thoroughly deserved the result.”

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

Jeffs right wrote:

One shot on target one goal. Could make a difference with four relegation places to avoid. Well done Latics.

Degsy stated:

I don’t understand why we have a midfield, they don’t win second ball and must have sore necks watching the ball soar over them every time the keeper or back four get hold of the ball.”

Hoofing the ball up the pitch is on instruction of manager and not the fault of the players !

I agree it’s stupid in such conditions and should be kept with the players on the ground !

When played through midfield, I thought Perry & Merry controlled it well and I don’t think you can fault Merrie in his commitment and success in tacking, winning the ball more often than losing it !

SwindonLatic added:

Barton will be fuming but his team did eff all in the second half apart from time waste. Well done to the boys for sticking at it even if we did lack quality in the final third.

True Believer commented:

Worst commentary I have ever heard on a game. You would have thought he would have learnt the players names and he couldn’t even pronounce Tommy Gores name correctly.

All that said the first half we looked completely out of it and I feared we were in for a pasting after the goal. We never got going and kept hitting the ball high into the wind without anyone of height to try and get on to it. I don’t understand why we have a midfield, they don’t win second ball and must have sore necks watching the ball soar over them every time the keeper or back four get hold of the ball.

Second half with the wind at our backs we persisted with kicking it long for most of the third quarter only to see it catch on the wind and fly through to their keeper whilst our forwards failed to press the centre backs. When we did start to get the ball down and play through the midfield we started to get on top and the possession stats started to even out and we looked more in control of the game.

Their keeper made a terrific save only to see it parried out to “Cronksoe”, or whatever name he called him, to head the ball in after following the shot in. Well done Ollie.

Not a game for the purist but in the scheme of things a valuable point, a much improved performance on midweek, and despite some of the miserable posters on here we are still only three points off safety with a new owner and transfer window to come.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and social media reaction to a narrow loss at Charlton

“We’re playing the twelve men at Old Trafford”.

In the Premier League days one rarely felt that Latics were going to get the balance of refereeing decisions going their way when playing the bigger clubs.

They certainly did not yesterday at The Valley.

John Sheridan had to reshuffle his pack for the game with left back Tom Pearce unavailable through injury. Gavin Massey was moved to right back, with Tom James moved across to the left. Darnell Johnson and Curtis Tilt formed yet another central defensive partnership. Will Keane was employed in a roving role behind Joe Garner. The seven substitutes on Wigan’s bench were graduates of the U23 squad.

I was a tight game ultimately decided by poor goalkeeping. The major refereeing decisions went to the home side, as noted by John Sheridan: “We are unfortunate to go away and get nothing from the game and it’s very disappointing.  We had two stonewall penalties and I will never know why he disallowed the Joe Garner goal; the linesman was 10 or 15 yards away from Will competing for the ball and he doesn’t give a foul but for some reason the referee – who is 40 yards away – gives a free-kick and disallows the goal.

The performance and the way the players went about getting something out of the game was a lot better. Again, we have lost the game and it’s disappointing because the goal is a direct free-kick and leading up to the goal we made ourselves vulnerable. The things we do, the decisions we make and we give too many little free-kicks away in dangerous areas, if you do that you get punished. It’s a shame we didn’t get something from the game because we deserved to.”

Sheridan did not use any of his bench, preferring to use the senior professionals at his disposal for the whole game. Despite the result it was a good performance with some bright spots. Gavin Massey had looked a shadow of his former self in the previous two games. He had a nervy start at right back, but grew into the game, looking more confident and assured. Curtis Tilt made an impressive debut despite not having played competitive football since March. It was good to see Lee Evans playing a more commanding role in the centre of midfield.  

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.

The_Pon commented:

Absolutely shocking refereeing today. I’m not normally one to blame a ref. They do have a difficult job to do and I’m usually willing to let a few bad decisions go, especially when they’re are bad decisions that go both ways.

Today though, it was absolutely appalling. Every decision went the same way. Charlton players just hit the deck for free kicks whenever they like, whilst two very strong penalty claims turned down and a perfectly good goal disallowed for us. That’s not to mention the niggly trips and pulls that they got away with almost every time but the ref gave them pretty much every time.

Don’t mind cr.p referees that much when they’re cr.p for both sides, but obvious bias makes my blood boil.

SwindonLatic said:

Poor goal to concede. But we deserved at least a point. If we can get an end product out of Viv he can be as big for us at this level as Yanic was. Get the Palmer lad in, in place of Gardner and we could have the makings of a half decent team. Looked much more solid at the back. Liked the look of Tilt

Tilt was very good, head and shoulders our best player. Having Garner back certainly helped. Evans looked better than he has in recent games in def mid, but really started to look more like his old self after we went behind and it felt like he started to take more responsibility and dictating the play – that is what he is best at and hopefully with Palmer coming in he will be able to do more of it. Keane showed some nice flashes but he doesn’t really seem to be the Kieffer Moore type who can cope with the long balls and needs the ball more on the deck and players running off him. Otabor and Kal could really do some damage but they are so often taking on 3 players by themselves and crowded out – they need some help in the form of some runners and support to pull men away from them or give them options to slide someone in.

Felt that we aren’t really doing ourselves justice. We are not giving ourselves many options on the ball with a lack movement resulting in losing the ball by going long and we haven’t got a Moore to make it work. On the occasions we go up a gear start to up the tempo, show more urgency and commit men forward like we did towards the end we look a much better team. Not sure if the players are showing the opposition too much respect but if that the is the reason they really shouldn’t. Need to start games showing the urgency we show after we go behind.

Omar Bogle is still totally sh­.te – even at this level!

We’ve played about 5 of the likely teams in the promotion hunt this season and they’ve all been utter shte. We have been in turmoil with a team of cast offs yet if we could cut out costly errors to give away the points we could’ve probably won all 5. If we could get our takeover done and get our act together there is no reason we couldn’t fly up the league but we’ve got to do better ourselves.

 

TrueBeliever opined:

Quite an even game for me, Charlton looking to bed players in as were we. The goal was a mistake from Jones but overall he had a decent game and kept us in it when their forward turned Johnson in the first half.

Johnson and Tilt looked comfortable given it was the first game they had played together. Evans looked better running the show from deeper but Gardner is too loose on the ball and tries the flicks too often losing us possession.

Massey was half decent as a full back but still lacks confidence and pace going forward, maybe he is still trying to get his fitness back and will improve with game time. Solomon-Otabor drifts in and out but is dangerous in one on one situations when he gets the ball out of his feet.

I thought both Garner and Keane fought well against a couple of decent CB’s and won their fair share of the ball without actually creating much. No doubt if they get to play together more they will improve and form an understanding.

We should have been given at least one of the two penalty shouts as Evans had his standing foot whipped away as he was about to shoot. The one with Keane was more debateable but his set up for Garner was never a foul and the assistant ref, who had the better view, obviously thought so. Poor decision by the ref.

Overall a decent performance from yet another makeshift side still looking to find some consistency and getting to know each others games.

Onwards to Tuesday and the visit of Peterborough with at least an improvement on last week’s performance.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Five talking points following a depressing performance at Hillsborough

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Wigan Athletic 0

 

Following the uplifting display against Aston Villa we witnessed another depressing performance at Hillsborough. Two poor teams offered little by the way of entertainment, although the conditions did not make things easy for either side. The game was decided by an excellent strike by Wednesday centre forward Steven Fletcher, aided by a lack of challenge from the Wigan midfield. But the home side were deserved winners, having eight shots on target compared with one from a toothless Latics outfit.

Paul Cook had named an unchanged side. Latics started positively but they were reluctant to push men forward to support the lone striker, Joe Garner. The high tempo, high pressing game that we saw against Villa was not evident. It was the home side who posed the greater goal threat and Jamie Jones was much the busier keeper. Wednesday could well have scored had it not been for superb last-ditch tackles from Chey Dunkley and Cedric Kipre and good goalkeeping by Jones.

But Latics managed to keep it at 0-0 when the teams marched off to the half time interval. The second half revealed that depressing type of play that has been so often the norm in recent months. The “hoof” was very much prevalent, and Wigan struggled to do anything constructive with the ball. After Fletcher’s goal in the 62nd minute one hoped for a riposte from Wigan, but nothing resulted. If another goal was to come in the game, it would most likely be the home team that scored it.

Following the match Paul Cook commented: “At half-time I was thinking there was something there for us but in the second-half Sheffield Wednesday totally dominated the game and fully deserved the victory. We got ourselves into a position to possibly get something from the game but, unfortunately, we fell away in the second-half and Sheffield Wednesday were full value for the win. We never got a foothold in the game or got into positions to hurt them and that is great credit to them.”

Jones once again impresses

But for an excellent display by Jamie Jones the scoreline would have been quite different. Although it is the keeper’s first season in the Championship at the age of 29, he looks far from overawed. In fact, he seems to be relishing it. Again, he was assertive in his box, making some fine saves. Moreover, as soon as he catches a ball, he is quick to step forward, looking for a quick throw to a player in space. Sadly, yesterday there were too few of his teammates moving to make themselves available to receive the ball. Far too often the keeper had to kick long, typically resulting in lost possession.

A product of the Everton youth system Jones joined Leyton Orient as a 19-year-old, spending 6 seasons there, making 161 league appearances. After letting his contract run down at the O’s he joined Preston as a free agent in July 2014. During his two years at Preston he made 14 league appearances, with another 34 on loan at Colchester, Coventry and Rochdale. Jones joined Stevenage in January 2016 and went on to make 53 appearances for them in League 2 before joining Latics as a free agent in August 2017.

An unbalanced midfield

Rather than play side by side in central midfield Lee Evans and Sam Morsy were given different roles. Evans was put in front of the back four with Morsy pushed further forward. Then midway through the first half Gary Roberts was moved from the left wing to play an inside left position. Josh Windass was moved to the wing.

The net result was Evans being swamped by the heavily populated home midfield, with Morsy and Roberts able to create few openings going forward. Windass had played one of his better games against Villa in a mobile number 10 role, but the switch saw him consigned to the wing where he rarely plays his best.

The lack of midfield cover was plain to see in Fletcher’s goal.

What on earth was Cook trying to achieve? Wednesday playmaker Barry Bannan had the freedom of the park.

What happens at half time?

Despite not playing particularly well in the first period Latics went in to the interval on level terms. For many teams playing away such a situation could be seen as a springboard to getting a positive result. But in Latics’ case this season it has rarely happened.

Based on goals scored in the first half of league games this season Latics would be placed in 16th position with 35 points. However, based on goals scored in the second half they would be 22nd with 26 points. Moreover, in away games Latics’ second half goals place them in 23rd position. Tables provided by Soccerstats.com can be viewed here.

Latics were 2-0 up at Swansea after dominating the game in the first half through high tempo, high pressing football. In the second half the intensity just was not there, and the home team came back to level the scores. Like yesterday in the second half Wigan had started employing the hoof.

Are the reasons for the disappointing second half performances due to physical reasons? Or are they psychological? Or the result of tactics discussions during the interval? After a fine performance against Aston Villa, where the intensity did not diminish in the second half, we were hoping for something similar yesterday.

Injuries hit hard again

After making an excellent debut last week Anthony Pilkington had to leave the field of play at half time after turning his ankle over. Cedric Kipre continued to play despite an ankle niggle. But it was Will Grigg’s injury that looked the more serious.

Cook is having no luck on the injury front and he remarked after the game that: “That’s what the league is, you get injuries, we were in a bit of fog but getting towards clear light and now it looks like we are heading back into that fog – that’s the way it is, though.”

Grigg to Sunderland off

The constant media barrage of “Grigg to Sunderland” has been wearing thin with Wigan Athletic supporters. But if Grigg’s injury is as serious as it appeared, he surely will not be leaving this month.

Will Grigg remains a favourite of so many Latics fans, though there are those who do not consider him to be a Championship level striker. His season has been riddled with injury, but even when fit he has often been left out of the starting lineup.

In the meantime, Devante Cole has returned from his loan spell at Burton Albion after making 6 starts and 7 substitute appearances, scoring 2 goals. If Grigg is out long-term will Cook look for a replacement in the transfer window or will he give Cole the genuine opportunity he was denied in the second half of last season?

 

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

 

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Five talking points following a high intensity victory over Aston Villa

Wigan Athletic 3 Aston Villa 0

 

It was as if the clock had been turned back. That negative long-ball approach was no longer evident. In its place was the high intensity football that has underpinned Latics’ best performances this season. They did it at Swansea for half a game, but this time they kept it going in the second half, the high press disrupting Villa’s passing game, threatening their defence.

Paul Cook looked to have taken a gamble by including Anthony Pilkington in the starting lineup, given that the player had not made an appearance for Cardiff’s senior side since April 2018. He also made a bold move in bringing in Jamie Jones in goal.

Both players made a difference in an impressive win over the big spending visitors, but a mix up between Jones and Cedric Kipre after 10 minutes ended up with Tammy Abraham missing a relatively easy chance. If Abraham had scored it could have been a killer blow for a Latics side with such brittle confidence. Fortunately for Wigan he didn’t and in the 41st minute a sublime piece of skill from Pilkington saw him dribble past his full back and pass to Gary Roberts who blasted the ball home. Michael Jacobs came on for Pilkington after 60 minutes and within ten minutes he scored with a spectacular diving header from Lee Evans’ long cross. Joe Garner slotted home a “soft” penalty after Josh Windass had gone down following a challenge from Glenn Whelan.

Following the game Paul Cook made the pertinent comment that: “All of the big moments in the games recently have gone against us but today the key moments went for us.”

Let’s look at some points arising:

Jones and Pilkington make a difference

Cook’s boldness in bringing in Jamie Jones and Anthony Pilkington certainly paid off. Apart from the mix-up with Kipre, Jones looked calm and confident in goal. Although the visitors failed to get a single shot on target Jones commanded the penalty box and his handling was excellent.

Pilkington fitted instantly into the style of play, adding an extra dimension to Wigan’s midfield. He was calm in receiving the ball under pressure, showing good control and change of pace. The trickery he showed in getting past his full back to set up Roberts’ goal was spectacular.

Pilkington looks an excellent signing and his versatility will give Cook more options.

Latics can punch above their weight in the Championship

Wigan’s starting lineup contained two loan players and five signed on free transfers. Their wage bill is one of the lowest in the division.

They were competing against players whose salaries dwarf theirs. Yannick Bolasie’s annual salary is around £3.5 m, Tammy Abraham gets some £2.8 m per year. Jack Grealish did not play in this match, but his annual salary is around £2.6 m. Scott Hogan, Ross McCormack and Micah Richards all earn over £1.5million per year. No Latics player earns as much as any of those three Villa substitutes who were not called upon in this match.

Aston Villa are England’s fifth most successful club as measured by winning the top division. But it is 38 years since they last won the old First Division. Last season they were beaten in the Championship playoff final by Fulham.

In their desperation to get back into the top-flight Villa run the risk of breaking FFP rules. In order to comply they could sell their major asset, Jack Grealish, whose market value is around £30 m. However, the HS2 train line cuts through their training ground at Bodymoor Heath, giving them an option of selling it to a property company owned by one of the billionaire owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawaris. Such a sale would count as income and help them keep within FFP rules.

Villa are one of so many big city clubs in the Championship division who continue to splash huge sums of money into a race to get back into the Premier League. But Latics matched them in the first game at Villa Park, unluckily losing to a goal in time added on. Moreover, they showed on Saturday that they can punch above their weight with that 3-0 victory.

Dean Smith’s post-match comments

Paul Cook is loath to criticise opposing team managers and their tactics. He stands out like a beacon compared with so many managers in the Championship division.

The Villa manager’s post-match comments did not reflect well upon him. Neither did attempts by some of his players to persuade the referee to give Wigan players red cards. Both Joe Garner and Sam Morsy are surely well known to the referees in the division for being robust. But neither deserved a red card in this game. Wigan fans might recall Sam Morsy’s sending off at Brentford in September while Smith oversaw the Bees.

Lee Evans back in form

Like others around him Lee Evans has had a torrid time in recent weeks. He has been a shadow of the player we saw earlier in the season. But on Saturday we saw him back to his best. Evans was excellent in defence and constructive in attack. He is an important creative force for Latics and leads in assists this season, tying with Nick Powell on four.

Evans’ longer passes are so often trademark diagonal balls. That stunning 40-yard cross for Jacobs’ goal was a gem.

Sticking to a winning formula

There had been a ray of hope in the first half display at Swansea a couple of weeks earlier with Latics eschewing the long-ball, building up more patiently from the back, pressing high up the pitch. But for some reason they were not able to maintain it in the second half at the Liberty Stadium.

That same successful formula returned in this game, the difference being that it lasted 90 minutes rather than 45. Playing that kind of high intensity football has significant physical demands on the players and with games coming in thick and fast it can be difficult to keep up.

But in this winter period there are few midweek games. In fact, in the next 8 weeks there is just one for Latics, that being the home game with Stoke on February 13th.

With a less hectic schedule allowing players more recovery time the timing is right for Cook to employ the high intensity approach on a regular basis. Not only does it nullify attacking options for expensively assembled teams like Aston Villa, but it also provides a spectacle for fans who have had scant entertainment in recent months.

If Cook can stick to this winning formula and the injury situation continues to improve, we will surely see Latics climb back up the table in the coming weeks.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com