Five talking points following a crucial win at Doncaster

Doncaster Rovers 1 Wigan Athletic 4

It was arguably their best performance of the season as Wigan Athletic took a crucial three points in style. A rocket shot by Joe Dodoo had put Latics ahead after just three minutes, with Thelo Aasgaard rifling the ball home twelve minutes later. Wigan continued to attack with the home defence looking in disarray and skilful interplay between Dodoo and Will Keane saw the latter break forward and lay the ball on a plate for Viv Solomon-Otabor to slide the ball home on the 33-minute mark.

Wigan’s play up to that point had been a revelation, but Taylor Richards got one back for the home team after finding himself outside the penalty box, scoring with aplomb. Latics went into half time with a 3-1 lead. One wondered how they would approach the second half, having too often seen them drop back into massed defence on previous occasions, inviting pressure and squandering their lead.

However, thanks to the defence and Jamie Jones they managed to keep Rovers at bay, meanwhile continuing to threaten at the other end. Keane got on the end of a cross from Dodoo after 80 minutes and eventually came away with an impressive 4-1 victory.

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

“I thought every player was outstanding; the energy levels, the endeavour and certainly the front two epitomised the game and the result. The subs coming off the bench gave us good impact and helped us to see the game through; when you have a group of people trying to run in the same direction, you haven’t half got a chance.

A goal just before half-time from Taylor Richards made the second-half a fraction less comfortable for Latics but Leam was pleased with the way his side saw the game through after an excellent start.

“It was important to manage the game in the second-half because we seem to like to make a game of it, with the goal just before half-time for them. We had some good noises at half-time and we knew we had to meet them head on again. Doncaster have some really good players and play a good brand of football, so I felt we had to go on and score again. We could have scored more possibly but we’ll certainly take the hard work and result.”

Let’s take a look at points arising from the game:

Dodoo was a revelation

Although he is still only 25-years-old Joe Dodoo has played for 8 clubs scoring 13 goals in 100 league appearances. In 2019-20 he made 24 appearances for Bolton Wanderers, scoring 4. Despite these stats he looked a fine player yesterday, leading the line with energy and pace. His third minute finish was hit with stunning power. He linked up beautifully with Will Keane for the third goal and showed lightning acceleration in leaving Rovers’ captain Tom Anderson in his wake before putting in a great cross for Keane to score the fourth.

Dodoo was born in Ghana and moved to England when he was 8 years old. In 2013 he represented England U18 against Belgium. Dodoo is a product of the Leicester City youth system and made his first team debut in a League Cup game at Bury in August 2013. Latics signed him in January after he had been released by Ankara Keciorengucu where he had scored one goal in fourteen appearances in the second tier of Turkish football. Until yesterday he had made 5 starts with 8 appearances off the bench, scoring one goal.

The Dodoo we saw at Doncaster was a revelation compared with what we had seen before. Can he repeat yesterday’s form in the games that remain?

Keane back to near his best

Will Keane has certainly had ups and downs in his career. Now 28-years-old he has played for six clubs since making his debut for Manchester United in December 2011. Although many of Keane’s 131 league appearances have seen him operating as a number 9, he has played his best football in the hole behind the central striker.  

Keane signed an extension to his Wigan contract in January after some fine performances in that role. Since then, after illness and injury he had struggled to show that kind of form. But yesterday he looked back to his best, his movement and quick feet causing a headache for the Doncaster defence.

With such good performances from Dodoo and Keane, Leam Richardson will face a selection decision if Callum Lang is back from injury on Tuesday when Latics play Sunderland. Lang can play on the right wing but is much more effective in the middle. Moreover, if he were to be brought back on the right wing would there be a place for Thelo Aasgaard who was excellent at Doncaster?

Jamie Jones is back in form.

A feature of recent games has been the much-improved performances from goalkeeper and captain Jamie Jones. During the month of February things were not looking good for Jones whose keeping had been riddled with fundamental errors. Questions were being asked by fans why Jones was being chosen. However, Richardson is a manager who supports his senior professionals and he maintained faith in Jones.

The goalkeeper made some key interventions at crucial times when Doncaster looked like they might pull back another goal to bring the score to 3-2. Moreover, he has looked increasingly confident and alert in recent matches.

Latics will need Jones at his best if they are to get out of the relegation dog fight.

Goal difference could be crucial.

With Burton Albion looking all but safe in 18th position four of the six clubs below them are almost certainly going to be relegated. With those clubs so close on points the likelihood is that at least one of those relegation slots will be decided on goal difference. The +3 tally from this match certainly helped Latics in this respect.

Wigan Athletic play just one of the other five teams in the “drop zone” as the season winds down. With four home games and two on the road it would normally be a position of strength for Wigan compared with others in the relegation pack. But in these Covid-19 times home advantage is not as big a factor as it was when crowds were attending. Latics have done worse than most with a home record of W3 D5 L11 (compared with W7 D3 L11 away from home).

Latics have two games against high-flying teams, Sunderland and Hull City, three against teams in between the promotion and relegation zones, with just one against relegation-threatened Swindon.

A general rule of thumb suggests that clubs need to average a point per game to be close to avoiding the drop. Latics would need 8 points from the 18 available to reach that target. Would 9 points be enough? Is this Wigan team capable of winning 3 of their final 6 games?

When the season first started there were pundits who said that Latics’ final game of the season against Swindon could decide a relegation place. They could yet be right.

More dubious refereeing decisions?

There has been scarcely a game this season when refereeing decisions have not been a talking point among Wigan Athletic fans. So many 50-50 decisions seem to have gone against Latics over the course of the season.

Being a football referee in this day and age is not an easy job. There are players who try to deceive, and the cynicism of some teams can be sad to witness. Richardson’s Latics are a very physical side but are rarely cynical. According to footstats.co.uk Latics have committed an average of 14.5 per game against 12.2 in their favour. Only Charlton Athletic and Oxford United have conceded more fouls per game. Rochdale, currently in bottom place, have the lowest committed fouls average of only 10.5 per game.

There was an incident at Doncaster when it appeared that the home goalkeeper had handled the ball out of his area. The referee did not rule that he did so. Latics TV commentators Ashley Houghton and Tommy Gore certainly raised the point. They also questioned a number of other decisions by the referee. It has become the norm in so many commentaries.

Tommy Gore certainly deserves the title of “Latics Legend” through his 287 appearances for the club from 1974-1980. He was a very good non-league player, playing right midfield and right back, and made the big adjustment to playing at a higher level when Latics joined the fourth division in 1978. He was a real team player with a very positive attitude.

Tommy certainly has a love for the club, and it shines through his commentaries. However, his constant criticism of minor refereeing decisions has become irritating. We are in an era where players go down easily to gain free kicks which would not have been awarded in the 1970s. In recent games I have resorted to muting the sound when he has repeatedly complained about fouls being given in favour of the other team.

The standard of refereeing in the division leaves much to be desired. Perhaps over the course of the season more 50-50 decisions have gone against Latics than have gone for them. Watching a game one can make one’s own decisions as to whether the referee is right or wrong in a particular incidence. However, a significant number of supporters are listening to audio-only commentaries.

There have been dubious refereeing decisions that have hurt Latics this season. But are the referees in collusion against Latics? I sincerely doubt it.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media Reaction to a goalless draw with Ipswich

Wigan Athletic 0 Ipswich Town 0

It’s another point in the right direction

So said Leam Richardson in his post-match summary.

It was a tight game with few chances created by either team with defences dominating. With Scott Wootton out through injury, Curtis Tilt moved to the right hand side of the centre of defence with George Johnston on his left. With various options for employing his front four Richardson had Will Keane at centre forward, with Callum Lang and a strapped-up Viv Solomon-Otabor playing wide and Thelo Aasgaard given a rare chance to play in his natural position as a number 10.

Aasgaard is a very talented young player and it was brave of the manager to give him the chance in the central creative role. However, in a game where defences and holding midfielders dominated the 19-year-old was so often crowded out when receiving the ball. Moreover, Keane looked lost at centre forward and the wingers could not get into the game. Solomon-Otabor was clearly not match fit and it was only later in the game when Lang played a more central role that he got more involved. Richardson’s dilemma is that Aasgard, Keane and Lang play best in that role behind that central striker.

Following a ragged performance at Accrington the defence was solid in this game with Johnston having a man of the match performance and Tilt not far behind. Moreover Jamie Jones was more authoritative in goal. If the defence can play like that in the games that remain then Latics will have a good chance of avoiding relegation.,

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:

True Believer commented:

As Arthur says it is a matter of opinion and in my opinion the game was fought out by two teams who were intent on winning three points but lacked the necessary skills to break the other down. Neither team showed any composure up front and lacked the ability to dominate the game. Both teams had opportunities to win the game but in the end I think both managers will be happy to come away with a point.

MoM for me was George Johnston who once again showed that he is a versatile player and a very solid performer. Alongside Curtis Tilt, who showed his commitment to the cause by returning from international duties a day earlier and still making himself available, they made a very strong CB pairing. Tendayi Darikwa had a decent game and is improving game by game and his forward runs caused a few problems for Ipswich, however his final ball needs improvement. Young Luke Robinson once again put in a solid shift but his inexperience shows in his pass selection and on a couple of occasions his wayward passing caused us problems, but I have no doubt he will improve.

Midfield has been a problem this season as we lacked experienced heads able to slow play down when necessary and pick out a pass when needed. In Evans and Ojo I think we have solved the problem as both had decent games with Evans spraying the ball wide to Darikwa to release him and set up a crossing opportunity.

Aasgaard looked good again playing in the central role but once again his lack of experience allowed the Ipswich players to crowd him out and snuff out the danger when he was in possession. Viv SO flatters to deceive and his control let him down today, although once again I have to applaud him for wanting to play even though he was heavily strapped up and this clearly hampered his pace.

Will Keane worked hard but doesn’t challenge enough for the high balls and is a poor substitute for Proctor, he is a much better number 10, playing off the main striker. Unfortunately for Will he is also second best as a No,10 to Callum Lang who once again makes you ask the question “why was he out on loan for the first half of the season”. His running with the ball directly at defenders causes panic and he was unlucky today not to have got a penalty, his energy is boundless and his enthusiasm rubs off on other players whilst his willingness to show for the ball gives the defence and midfield options.

Now to the scapegoat for many JJ.

I thought he commanded his area today and marshalled the defence well making a couple of decent interceptions and clearing the ball under pressure. His near post block saved the points when they did eventually get past the defence, and although you would expect him to make the block I still believe it was worth the mention.

To sum up, it was not one for the purists but given the performance last weekend it was certainly an improvement and pre match that is all I could ask for. A win would have been a great result, but at this stage of the season, and considering three points would have seen Ipswich back in to the play off places at the start of play, I’ll take the point, the performance, and look to build on that against Gillingham.

Jeffs right wrote:

I don’t expect us to roll any side over. We are struggling at the bottom because we have one of the weakest squads in the league. So long as we give it a go is important but two shots on target in 96 minutes is not going to get us up to finish fifth from bottom. Ipswich were depleted too and since Cook went there are struggling to get wins so have been slipping away from contention and like Stanley last week are not exactly buzzing. Today was another of those games where if you were to expect three points then this was one of the games. Alas two shots on target is not going to do it.

Victor Moses summarised:

Viv was done 20 minutes before he came off.

Evans actually played to the standard you would expect from him today. Some lovely switch passes which led to some of our best openings, several sliding tackles and used his body well to win several freekicks. Was good to see him play well.

Lang was excellent but didn’t see enough of the ball out wide, really had the beating of them almost everytime he had the ball.

Johnston had a very good game, won the ball back a lot.

Robinson struggled but thats expected every now and then.

The rest had good and bad moments, had chances to win that, ball never fell kindly and wasted too many opportunities to be creative.

You are my sunshine summarised:

Thought we played well today and all that was lacking was an end product and cutting edge at the top end of the pitch. We’ve created 3 good chances and also got into some good areas and situations without making the most of them.

We were really solid defensively today and the clean sheet is a real positive. Johnston was outstanding and Tilt was excellent as well especially after his whirlwind few days.

After an even 1st half I thought Evans and Ojo then controlled the game in the 2nd and we were the better team, so I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t win the game.

Lang needs to play centrally and only out wide when we have no other options to play on the wings. He’s wasted out there and we need him more involved in the game which he will be through the middle.

Although I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t win,because we were the better team that 2nd half, it’s a point closer to safety and very much all to play for going into the last 9 games.


Additionally we have the official takeover to look forward to next week, which,fingers crossed should be rubber stamped before Good Friday!


Keep the faith!

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Stormclouds loom over Wigan Athletic’s fight to avoid relegation: time for changes?

The dedication and sheer hard work of the management team of Leam Richardson and Gregor Rioch has kept Wigan Athletic in with a fighting chance of avoiding relegation from League 1. That Latics are not totally adrift of the teams above them in the table is a testimony to their endeavours. The league table shows the task ahead of them.

Courtesy of SkySports.com

After Jamie Jones had somehow allowed an innocuous shot to go through him in the 27th minute on Wednesday evening it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Latics against high flying Hull City. Up to that point they had matched the visitors and had looked solid. However, with five losses in the previous six games Wigan’s confidence was bound to be brittle. Another goal five minutes later was no surprise and as the game continued, with their confidence shot, the Wigan team capitulated. Hull could have scored more than five.

Wigan’s starting line-up against Hull consisted of just one player, Chris Merrie, who had come through their academy. There were five players new to the club over the January transfer window. Much had been said earlier in the season of a young team giving away goals through a lack of experience. In the January window the club had done well to bring in new players who might provide an experienced backbone to the squad. But goals continue to be given away with more seasoned pros having taken the place of U23 players.

With so many new players arriving it was always going to take time for the new blend to gel. The comings and goings of so many players over the course of the season has made things extremely difficult for management. Moreover, the long-term injuries to Kyle Joseph and Tom Pearce have thrown another spanner in the works.

Following poor performances and results against relegation rivals Wimbledon and Swindon, Richardson switched to a back line of three central defenders for the next game at Northampton which was decided by an opportunist strike by Callum Lang. That backline had the experience of Scott Wootton and Curtis Tilt, both 29-years-old, with over 360 career league appearances between them, together with the very capable 22-year-old George Johnston. It looked like a combination that could provide solidity at the back with enough height and muscle to deal with the aerial threat posed by so many teams in the division.

Latics did not perform badly in the following game against an Oxford team in top form, another well taken goal from Lang putting them in front. Sadly they went on to lose the game through goals created by centres into the box.

It was a surprise to see that for the Hull game Richardson had ditched his back three in favour of an orthodox back four, with Johnston pushed to left back. But what was more puzzling was his advanced midfield trio with Viv Solomon-Otabor on the left and Dan Gardner and Will Keane in the centre and on the right. The new shape did not work and all three were taken off after 56 minutes, with Latics already four goals down.

Managers under pressure tend to rely on experienced players and that showed in Richardson’s team selection. Thelo Aasgaard was rested and not in the squad. Luke Robinson and Callum Lang were on the bench and brought on in the second half. Alex Perry, whose range of passing from the centre of the field can be a real asset, has been pushed out by the arrival of the more conservative Funso Ojo. The problem over recent games has been that too many of those senior professionals have been way off form. However, Richardson has stuck with them. Jones in particular has been fortunate to have kept his place despite poor goalkeeping that has cost Latics dearly.

If Latics are to lift themselves for the visit of top-placed Lincoln City tomorrow a shake-up is needed. Having a backbone of experienced players can be of great value in a relegation dog-fight, but some need a break to help them regain their form. There are lots of hungry, talented young players at the club who can step in.

Amigo and social media reaction to an exciting win at Burton

Burton Albion 3 Wigan Athletic 4

A stunning hat-trick from Kyle Joseph and an opportunist header from Will Keane gave Latics a much-needed three points at a frosty Pirelli Stadium.

So much of Wigan’s play was based on the long-ball, but when they did get the ball out to the wings they posed problems for the home team defence. Latics had started the game without Kal Naismith, their key creative player. It was a surprise to see Thelo Aasgard start in left midfield in place of Dan Gardner.

This was a game where players from the U23 squad shone. Joseph was clearly man-of-the-match, but there were fine performances from Chris Merrie and Ollie Crankshaw, with Aasgaard working hard in an unfamiliar role. Adam Long came on in the closing minutes to bolster the defence and hold on to the lead. Wigan’s younger players are clearly getting acclimated to the demands of League 1 football and there is lots of promise for the future.

Following the game Leam Richardson commented:

“Absolutely made up for the players, the effort, the determination, the character to come back not once but three times. We’re built in a certain way where we feel we can score goals. They did put us under pressure in other ways but we stood up to the task and thankfully tonight we came out on top.

The character is outstanding; I’ve said it before but the four goals we scored are probably the quality to go in at any level. I commend the players for that, they take on the information but full credit to Burton because they didn’t leave a breath on the pitch. It was a game where two teams went at it and again there wasn’t a breath left out there so whether there deserved to be a winner or not – I’m not sure – but thankfully we came out on top.”

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:

Hampton commented:

Restored my faith in our club that fighting spirit tonight – well played to all of them.
Despite everything else going on with pitches, firesales and away owners treatment the EFL and the admins still haven’t managed to destroy our DNA.

That it’s mainly kids who have been developed the Wigan way literally leading from the front has proper cheered me up. Hope Mr Moreno was watching that – his investment could be recouped with interest in a short space of time. Absolutely essential now that the purchase completes before the admins sell the kids off for buttons in Jan.

You are my sunshine said:

Absolutely delighted with that superb win tonight! Great character from the lads to come from behind 3 times, then show that desire to go on and get the winner. I thought we looked a threat every time we attacked from open play and Burton looked a threat every time they had a set piece which made for an entertaining game.

Pearce, Merrie and Keane were all brilliant tonight, but a special mention to Joseph on a stunning performance. Those 2nd and 3rd goals were absolute quality.

That win was crucial to push us closer to safety! 11 points from the last 6 games is a fantastic return and huge credit goes to the squad and management team who are doing a remarkable job in the circumstances and continue to give us hope!

Oscarbon stated:

That is 6 games with only 1 defeat. 3 wins, 2 draws and a loss from 6 is not relegation form especially as we ae not playing at our best.

Agree we need to keep hold of Kyle as well as Asgaard and Keane.

Piemon commented:

Yep, playing it out the wings is creating loads. That long ball from the back just concedes possession. With a bit more confidence we will be reet.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com

Amigo and Social Media reaction as Latics toil for another point

Wigan Athletic 1 Shrewsbury Town 1

A battling Latics side managed to hold off waves of second half attacks by Shrewsbury to claim a point that could prove very useful in their fight against relegation. The Shrews had come into the game following three consecutive wins, all away from home at Hull, Lincoln and Doncaster. Latics had gone ahead from a Will Keane penalty after 47 minutes when a touch of skill from Kal Naismith had created an overlap for Tom Pearce. The goal pushed Shrewsbury forward and they put constant pressure on the Wigan defence. The Shrews equaliser came when the experienced Shaun Whalley, who had been proving a headache for Latics, slotted home after 66 minutes.  

It was a dire game with Wigan’s main mode of attack being hopeful long balls, which the solid Shrews defence devoured. But it is another point gained as the transfer window looms, as does the ratification of the Moreno deal.

Despite the difficulties faced over these months Latics have stayed within touch of the teams above them in the relegation zone. It remains to be seen what kinds of signings the Moreno regime will make in January, given the difficult financial situation which includes a tight salary cap. A couple of experienced central defenders will surely be on the shopping list.

After the game Leam Richardson commented:

“When teams are set up the way Shrewsbury are, then it is important you don’t give them any goals because they’re very good at what they do. It was up to us to find creativity to take the initiative and we didn’t have that spark or energy today but if you’re not going to win, don’t lose and I felt we did that with honesty.”

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:

Degsy1 commented:

A very scrappy first half !.

I just hope we come out in the second and take control – I’m sure we can do much better than this first half performance against these guys !

The first half statistics say it all !

Zakky added:

Says it all really playing at home ZERO shots on goal ZERO chances made.

Zeb2 stated:

Refs ineptitude aside …Shrewsbury are the only team to have created any chances/half chances. No good saying how poor Shrewsbury are …when on the 45 minutes so far we are worse than them, we’ve created nothing and our passing is conservative and inaccurate …though we have retained the uncanny knack when passing to a team mate in space to just pass half a yard behind him.

Cueball concluded:

Thank goodness that’s over, still at least it’s a point.

Oscarbon said:

What is the point of bringing Asgaard on with 3 minutes to go?

Had we scored at the end I think it would have been daylight robbery.

Ooohaaahdonniepage stated:

Definitely improved recently. Last 10 games over 90 minutes we have lost 3 games in total which isn’t bad. Draw seemed a fair result today take it all round and agree young Aasgaard looks like he deserves more game time. Next games winnable and takeover appears imminent. To be in touch with rest of league is a minor miracle given what we have started season with.

Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com