12th Man: Downward trends

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What did I say about a rollercoaster last week?

If we were on an upward incline last week we’re definitely back on that downward trend this week.

It doesn’t feel terminal just yet but make no mistake the failure to take only 1 point from the last two games makes the fight against relegation a lot more difficult.

Where to begin? The Preston game was very similar to the return match at Deepdale in September where it felt like one goal could win it. As it was an inspired double save from Matt Gilk’s in the first half kept us in it.

Once again both Omar Bogle and Will Grigg started together but without any real understanding between the two. Both worked their socks off but looked so isolated up front. Indeed Bogle should have had his own penalty later in the first half after giving away the penalty to Preston. It could have been a different story if we had been awarded that.

In the end a point was probably a fair result against a side with play-off aspirations. Failing to win at home again put even more pressure on the side ahead of the QPR trip making that a must win match in a season of must wins.

Warren Joyce’s side got off to the worst possible start, being a goal down within 5 minutes and although Bogle was rightly awarded a penalty on Tuesday in the end it wasn’t enough to get us anything from Loftus Road. Once again our inability to take our chances and capitalise when we’re on top for long periods came back to haunt us. We leave the capital once again without a win in London since that glorious day at Wembley – nearly four years ago now.

Tuesday’s defeat isn’t yet the killer blow but we’re getting to the point where we really need to string a run of wins together. There’s also a feeling that we need to start taking the game to sides more.

With no Michael Jacobs in the side – not a natural winger himself the team feels narrower than ever. Four central midfielders who all do a similar job don’t make much in the way of creativity and without that creativity we’re not going to score the goals we desperately need to survive.

Ryan Colclough came back from a decent loan spell at MK Dons and after impressing last season but hasn’t been seen since the turn of the year. If he isn’t injured I would be concerned as to why he hasn’t had any sort of impact on the squad yet. Especially now the only other winger in the side has gone to Norwich. Maybe after a couple of substitute appearances Gabriel Obertan will be ready to face Norwich.

We certainly need something to freshen the side up because this season is only going to have one outcome it we carry on in a similar vein.

Warren Joyce has made us difficult to beat, if we can add goals to that over the next few weeks we’ll be fine. But that’s easier said than done isn’t it?

First published in the Wigan Evening Post, Friday 24th February 2017

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