Fine margins is an often overused phrase, it’s also one that often irks me. Probably due to its overuse by certain Wigan Athletic managers that should be left firmly in the past – I’m looking at you Malky, Warren and Owen. But for this week fine margins is most definitely a suitable phrase.
After the two consecutive home wins over Hull and Bristol City Latics made the long trip south to Norwich with confidence of making it three wins in a row, our relatively terrible record should have made the Latics faithful think again but with the form we’ve been in lately anything is possible. In a generally cagy game with few chances for either side Wigan could and should have won it with a number of chances towards the end of the second half.
Nonetheless as the clock ticked down to 85 minutes Latics would have been heartened by a valuable point and another clean sheet from a constantly improving defence. I’ve yet to find a suitable explanation for why a penalty was awarded so late in the game, the only feasible explanation is that the referee felt he needed to make amends after incorrectly not awarding a penalty against Latics in the first half. There felt a real sense of injustice after Saturday’s game that a refereeing decision had robbed Latics of a point they should have gained – regardless of how well they played.
It was good to see the lads follow up that disappointment with another positive result at home against one of the better sides we’ve faced this season. Swansea are a team still full of Premier League class with attacking talent all over the pitch. Any side that can bring on three substitutes like Martin Olsson, Wayne Routledge and Leroy Fer are a side to be reckoned with and Latics once again showed their defensive resolve with Chey Dunkley and the improving Cedric Kipre making numerous match saving interceptions. A word of credit should also go to Reece James, at 18 years of age the lad looks like he’s been playing at this level for years and will surely go on to much bigger and better things.
Nick Powell made his first start as captain and once again was absolutely central to everything good about our play, one can only hope a new contract is just around the corner for the mercurial talent. Will Grigg stepped up his return from injury and immediately we looked a far stronger attacking threat, as hard as Joe Garner works Grigg adds that extra bit of class to our link up play. He could and probably should have sealed a win when he was played through but an excellent save from Swansea prevented another home win for Paul Cook’s men.
Still a point against Swansea is not to be sniffed at and with close to 4000 Wiganer’s travelling to Deepdale on Saturday confidence is high. Undefeated at home and only a point away from a play-off place at this stage of the season is a very good return so far. Let’s hope the lads can keep it up as we head in to the Autumn and who knows where this season could take us.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 5th October 2018