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How will we react?

I imagine that was the challenge posed to his players by Shaun Maloney after Saturday’s defeat at Preston. It was the first real blip of the Shaun Maloney era and ironically came in a game where we looked in complete control.

We’ve a horrific record at Deepdale in recent history, compared to how well we did before we were promoted to the Premier League it’s not been a happy hunting ground for us since our return to the Championship.

Saturday followed that recently trend to a tee, in no small part thanks to Saturday’s referee Thomas Bramall who it seems is a big fan of fellow Championship strugglers Rotherham United. Who’d have thunk it? The penalty awarded early in the second half completely changed the direction of the game.

A softer penalty you will never see as Daniel Johnson knocked the ball past Ben Amos and proceeded to fall over the goalkeeper. To rub salt in the wounds a penalty that should have been given to Latics in the closing stages was waved away with Charlie Hughes writhing in agony in the box as he had been taken out by a Preston defender.

Now I’m not saying that the defeat was wholly the responsibility of the aforementioned Mr Bramall but it is fair to question what it did motivationally for a Preston side who hadn’t had a foothold in the game until that point.

Their tails went up and unfortunately ours didn’t, resulting in defeat for the four thousand Wiganers that had used plane, bus and automobile to reach central Lancashire. Not trains though, thanks to engineering works at Preston.

How we react to this will define the battle for Championship survival, we’re still in with a chance and the improvement under Maloney’s tenure so far has been clear for all to see. But and it’s a big but we need to start turning draws in to wins, and good performances in to results. We have very little goal threat up front and that needs to change.

Saturday feels pivotal in many ways, we faced Birmingham back in March 2011 when we were in the bottom three of the Premier League and a last minute winner from Maynor Figueroa saw us take all three points off a relegation threatened Birmingham to move within two points of safety.

If we beat Birmingham on Saturday we can move to within a point of safety dependent on results elsewhere.

With West Brom and Burnley to follow next week it’s essential we get that win, by hook or by crook. Come on lads, make us proud.

Sean Livesey

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