Thirty seconds, thirty seconds away from a famous win that would have seen Wigan Athletic in to the draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup for the second season running. That was how close it was for Paul Cook’s side on Saturday, the difference between a penalty being given and a split second decision not to give it. Latics had battled manfully against Premier League Bournemouth in the second half, after dominating the first half at Dean Court. Two quick fire goals had seen Latics go ahead on the South Coast and it wouldn’t have been generous to say Latics could have had a third.
The penalty decision that wasn’t could and possibly should have been the moment the game changed, with the benefit of TV replays it’s still difficult to see whether the referee was right or not, on first glance it looks like a definite penalty. Others would say Ivan Toney simply fell over, but he was in such a great position I fail to see why he would have gone down without any contact.
The last minute equaliser was the ultimate kick in the teeth for Latics and with the games coming thick and fast I imagine it wasn’t what either manager would have wanted.
As it is Latics get the chance to do it all again, but I fear the chance for a famous victory will have passed – as surely Bournemouth won’t be as poor for a second time. But then again, they face Arsenal on the Sunday before the replay and West Ham on the Saturday so perhaps just perhaps Eddie Howe’s mind may be on other things.
The final act of Ivan Toney’s Wigan Athletic career rather summed up most of his time with the club, he’s faced some extremely harsh criticism in recent weeks but equally he hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded him when we signed him on loan from Newcastle in the summer. He’s scored a handful of goals but also missed numerous chances elsewhere and a lot of important chances at that. I’m not sure many will shed a tear at his departure but equally questions remain how we can replace him, Noel Hunt is an excellent option from the bench but of course at his age he isn’t going to be considered a regular starter so the club will need to find some new fire power from somewhere.
Whether that involves laying any money out or another loan deal will probably depend on whether the much discussed takeover deal gets the green light, if not Latics may well be looking at someone to come in to make up the numbers and hoping Will Grigg doesn’t pick up any injuries.
Whereas not many will be too worried about Toney leaving many will be concerned at the departure of Lee Evans, Sheffield United have got an excellent deal – getting the midfielder for £750k, many Latics fans have complained why we didn’t make a similar signing but the reality is we simply don’t have that money anymore. £750k may have been small fry in the past but with little in the way of income being generated and no parachute payments anymore this is the new reality we have to face, luckily we have Max Power and Shaun Macdonald ready to step in so it’s not all bad in the Wigan Athletic engine room.
It’s back to league matters on Saturday as Peterborough of the famous lap of honour fame visit the DW on Saturday, I’m sure there’ll be a bit of bite after their celebrations following the victory in the return match earlier this season. Hopefully Paul Cook and his side can get back to winning ways at home and show Peterborough why you should never celebrate too early.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 12th January 2018
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