Standing up to Scrutiny

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A test of a good side is how they stand up to scrutiny. How they respond to set backs, do they crumble at the first sign of pressure or do they stand up to be counted?

Luckily thanks to some sterling efforts this season we haven’t had too many times where we’ve had to see Wigan Athletic face adversity. Generally Latics through sheer hard work, determination and no lack of skill have managed to have most things their own way this season.

So when the lads were 2-0 down midway through the first half at Ewood Park on Sunday thoughts turned to how they would respond and indeed if they could. Of course you write off this side at your peril.

The first half had been strange in that despite being two goals to the good I didn’t think Blackburn looked much better than us, both goals could and should have seen the referee blow up for fouls in the build up.

One potential leg breaker on Nick Powell (interestingly the Blackburn social media team have spent the week celebrating this ‘tackle’ on Twitter) and Nathan Byrne being wrestled to the floor in the build up to the second.

If those decisions go Latics way it could have been a very different first half. Latics came out in the second half a different side and Paul Cook’s substitutions of both James Vaughan, Jamie Walker and latterly David Perkins all made a big difference.

I was impressed with both Vaughan and Walker who played a big part in getting Latics back level – they’ll surely play a big part in the run in in coming weeks.

The reaction of Blackburn at the end, and the extremely bitter comments of Tony Mowbray show how that was a much better point for Wigan Athletic than it was for Blackburn Rovers.

Talk ahead of kick off from Ewood had centred on knocking Latics psychologically by beating us and opening up a 9 point lead. As it is I think it’s Latics who have the psychological lead over Blackburn now. Despite poor results in February against Southend and Blackpool, we know that it’s in our hands and win our games in hand and we’ll finish above Blackburn.

As Blackburn celebrate winning the 2018 drawing with Wigan trophy, Latics can turn attentions to Scunthorpe. The game against Scunny is as key as it was back in October when ten men Latics held on for all three points. A similar result is needed this weekend to keep up with the chasing pack.

It’s feeling like another season defining week is coming up. Following Scunthorpe it’s a trip over the Pennines to Bradford and then the FA Cup quarter final tie with Southampton.

Let’s hope it’s a week we can all look back on fondly.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 9th March 2018

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