So it’s no Wembley return for Wigan Athletic this season. As it transpired it was simply a case of one game too far in our FA Cup run.
Latics could and should have been out of sight by half time, Paul Cook’s men had been by far the better side and were the ones who looked like they had Premier League class.
The difference between Sunday and the games against Bournemouth, West Ham and Manchester City were simply being clinical in front of goal. Latics created numerous opportunities but sadly couldn’t convert that dominance in to goals.
Even as the second half began Latics were in the ascendancy and the corner count at one point ten in favour of Wigan showed just how strong our dominance had been. Sadly as Latics tired, the failure to get at least a goal to the good as Southampton finally woke up and began to turn the screw.
Even after Southampton had taken the lead Latics had chances with Noel Hunt and Nick Powell making a difference when they came on. Christian Walton offered hope with a few world class saves, including that one from the penalty spot but it was a case of what could have been as Noel Hunt’s effort failed to connect and Southampton scored their second with a breakaway goal.
I can’t say I’m not disappointed about Sunday, the closer the game got the more confidence I had that we could seal an unlikely return to Wembley and who knows what could have happened after that.
But then logically perhaps it’s better this way, promotion has to be our aim this season and there’s no doubt that we’ve stuttered in recent weeks. Now there’s no excuses we can fully concentrate on returning to the Championship.
Despite the disappointment in missing out on that Wembley return we should take a moment to praise this Wigan Athletic side and management team. No one would have imagined we could have reached a quarter final at the start of the competition, let alone when we were on the verge of being knocked out by Fylde in round two.
To knock out Manchester City currently one of if not the best club side in the world at the moment along the way is quite the achievement. It should have been crowned by that Wembley return but I’m sure the majority of other Latics fans that have lived this FA Cup run will agree at showing no disappointment with the side, they’re heroes and they’ll earn their just rewards hopefully with promotion back to a level befitting of their talents.
Any doubts as to how Latics would react to the disappointment of that quarter final defeat were quashed on Wednesday evening, a comprehensive 3-0 win and another three points on the way to promotion. We may still be in third place but with games in hand and a far superior goal difference, Paul Cook’s side are looking well placed for promotion.
If we manage to get back to the Championship I’m sure the disappointment of ‘only’ reaching the FA Cup quarter final will soon subside.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday March 23rd 2018
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