The Cup runneth over

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Before kick-off on Saturday all the talk was of a point against Blackburn being a decent result, and so it came to pass. The first goalless draw in the tenure of Paul Cook as Latics manager and I’m not sure it’s a game anyone will remember fondly.

Blackburn came with an intention to get a point and that’s exactly what they got, speaking to Blackburn fans in the pub before the game they mentioned the defensive attitude that Tony Mowbray had employed and that was evident early on on Saturday.

Our flair players were isolated, Nick Powell, Michael Jacobs and Ivan Toney were on all on the receiving end of niggling fouls. Designed to break up play and stop us playing.

I thought after their sending off we may have made the extra man count but if anything Blackburn just sat further back, content to let us do all the pushing whilst their two banks of four soaked up all the pressure.

Fair play to Blackburn and indeed Mowbray because that tactic obviously worked. But my lord it’s dull, as dull as Tony Mowbray himself. It’s still early days and I expect Blackburn will get their act together as the season goes on but the early season predictions of Rovers running away with the league were wrong, at least at this stage.

Despite not being at our best through the match we still should have won the game, Gavin Massey’s attempt hitting the post was as close as we got. But still a point is a point, and the unbeaten record continues.

Can that unbeaten run continue in the cup again on Saturday? I’m sure a few sighs were heard amongst the WN postcodes at that draw. Crawley away would have generated some excitement as it would have been a new ground to tick off but Crawley at home doesn’t get the juices flowing for most I imagine.

But then it’s attitudes like that, that do a disservice to our Cup as it will always be. Crawley and their fans will be thrilled to test themselves against a club higher up the chain and one that was still holders of the FA Cup just four years ago.

From Paul Cook’s point of view how high up on the priority list is a cup run? I imagine not that high but winning is a good habit to get in to, and although the league is clearly king this season a decent run in the cup would be welcome.

Saturday gives the opportunity to rest a number of first teamers and see how the likes of Victor Maffeo, Tyler Golden and Adam Long cope against league opposition. If they perform as well as they have in the EFL trophy group stages it should be a good afternoon.

It’ll be interesting to see how the management deal with the FA Cup and game against Accrington Stanley three days later. Will it be a stronger side for the FA Cup or a similar side for both? Is Will Grigg going to make his return from injury?

Whatever happens it’s another fascinating week for the Latics.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 3rd November 2017

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