Burton Albion 0 Wigan Athletic 0: Some Talking Points

A stunning last-ditch clearance by Kell Watts in the dying moments denied the home side of a win that they probably merited. Despite not playing well Latics held on for a valuable point that edges them closer to automatic promotion, buoyed by Rotherham’s 3-0 pasting at Portsmouth.

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

“It was always going to be challenging and you have to meet them for the fight, and hope then your bit of quality comes through. Fair credit to Burton, I thought they defended resolutely, as we did for large parts. We’ll take our point and move on.”

Latics had started in a lively manner, the wing backs pushing forward, the midfield winning the second balls. After looking in control in the first 25 minutes they gradually moved to that familiar default mode of hopeful long balls as the first half progressed. That continued for the rest of the match. Burton’s “give and go” football gave them the edge and they went close on several occasions, with Latics looking short of creativity further forward.

It was a difficult night on a narrow pitch and difficult conditions. A point was a good result for an error-strewn Wigan team unable or unwilling to string passes together. During the second half the midfield was struggling, with the wing backs reluctant to push forward. The situation was crying out for a substitution that would strengthen that midfield, but it never came.

Richardson made a substitution on 73 minutes with Stephen Humphrys replacing a tiring Joe Bennett. That involved putting Callum Lang to right wing back with Tendayi Darikwa switching flanks. Bennett had done well to play the full 90 in the previous two games after such a long recuperation period from an ACL injury. He is a conservative option at left wing back compared with Tom Pearce or James McClean who will assertively attack an opposition defence.

The substitution did not improve things and may of us were left wondering why Pearce had not been introduced or why the midfield had not been bolstered by the introduction of Jordan Cousins or Graeme Shinnie.

Richardson tends to be very cautious with substitutions, preferring to stick with his starting XI unless injury or tiredness force his hand. However, he deserves praise for temporarily deserting his favoured 4-2-3-1 to playing with three centre backs, a change that has produced results.  Jason Kerr has gone from strength to strength through his regular selection to the starting XI. He was probably Wigan’s best performer in this game.

Latics are now unbeaten in their last nine league games. The manager has done well in getting his team to where they currently are. His next immediate challenge is to prepare his players for the visit of Cambridge United on Easter Saturday. Cambridge’s away record this season reads W6 D5 L10.

The point gained in this game could well prove important to Latics as they, MK Dons and Rotherham come under pressure as the season nears its close.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

A Cardiff fan’s view of Joe Bennett

Courtesy of Wales News Service

Wigan Athletic last week announced the signing of 31-year-old Joe Bennett from Cardiff City. The left back has over 300 appearances in the Premier League and Championship and looks an outstanding signing for Latics in League 1.

Bennett had been offered a new contract at Cardiff prior to Mick McCarthy’s arrival in January, the player suffering a serious ACL injury in March. By early August Bennett was still training with Cardiff although no new contract had been offered, prompting McCarthy to comment:

“He is in the building and he is going to train. I am more than happy for him to train, he has been a great servant to the club. I think there was an offer made to him prior to me coming in and it didn’t get signed. That’s just the way it is. Contracts run out. Sadly for him he got injured.

If he hadn’t have been injured he would have left, played for someone else and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I was quite sad about it because I spoke to Benno when I came in, I knew his contract was running out. I discussed with him about staying, then injury comes and it changed it all.”

On signing for Latics, Bennett commented:

Im delighted to get a chance to come to a massive club like this and get the opportunity to play. Hopefully I can come here, help the team and get promoted and thats why Ive come here – to get promoted and Im sure a lot of the lads and staff want that as well.

For me there was a good feel about the club and we’ve had a good start. We’ve got a good squad and a good team. If I can add my experience and some of my attributes to the team as well, then itll bode well. I think I fit into that, and I want to help the team and help the squad if I get the opportunity to play. Ive come here to get promoted and hopefully thats what we can do.”

Born in Rochdale, Joseph Bennett graduated through the Middlesbrough academy, signing a professional contract as a 19-year-old in the summer of 2008. He went on to make 78 starts and 7 appearances off the bench over four seasons in the Premier League and Championship. Bennett signed for Aston Villa for £2.75m in August 2012. He made 25 appearances in the Premier League in 2012-13. He had injury problems in his second season, limiting him to 7 appearances in all competitions. In 2014-15 Bennett played for Brighton and Hove Albion on loan, making 45 appearances. Following further loan spells at Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday he left Aston Villa for Cardiff after amassing 30 league appearances for Villa.

Joining Cardiff City in August 2016 he went on to make 164 league appearances for the Bluebirds over 5 seasons, scoring 5 goals.

In order to learn more about Marshall’s time at Cardiff we reached out to Benjamin James of the View from the Ninian fan site (http://www.viewfromtheninian.com/).

Here’s over to Benjamin:

Joe Bennett has great teeth and is a great left back. He joined Cardiff, unheralded, in 2016 and we no longer needed to worry about the left back position. It was like he was what we had always been looking for.

Solid, good going forward, even better at defending. When we got promoted to the premier league, he was a key player in the promotion run and in the year at the top where he really didn’t look out of place. 

If I’d had my choice, we would have kept him but a difference in opinion on wages and then his injury put paid to that. It feels like a changing of the guard for us. A player who had spent five years with us and was a big part of our successes during that time is moving on.

No offence to Wigan, but I’m surprised he’s dropped down to league one. Maybe he’s not sure his body is up to the rigours of the Championship after an ACL injury but I won’t doubt his ability. He’s a quality, consistent left back and you’ve got a gem.