Has a corner been turned?
There have been positive signs of life for Wigan Athletic since the Christmas period, though results didn’t necessarily follow. In the 15 matches since that defeat to Luton at the start of December Latics have only lost four times.
More importantly since the defeat to Preston at the start of February Latics have taken eight points from twelve available with two wins in two including that masterful win over Reading on Wednesday evening.
Paul Cook has been steadfast in his belief in his players and indeed in their ability to turn things around this season. I and many others have been made to look quite foolish by questioning whether Cook would and should remain in place.
At the moment Cook is definitely repaying the faith placed in him by Darren Royle and Jonathan Jackson, Wednesday night was like the Latics of old. The Latics of swashbuckling wins in League One, the Latics of positive passing and attacking intent and the Latics that are always upsetting the odds.
From minute one against Reading Paul Cook’s side looked like they had the bit between their teeth, Kieffer Moore and the returning Gary Roberts alongside Jamal Lowe and Gavin Massey were a constant nuisance for the Reading defence and we could have been ahead earlier than the 23rd minute. Moore who has looked so impressive since his return to the side in January once again popped up with the goods and what a goal it was.
As cheeky as the near carbon copy he scored at Cardiff earlier this month but this once was even better, Nathan Byrne an unsung hero from the upturn in form recently was provider and it shows the kind of confidence flowing through the side at the moment.
Whereas in the past Latics would have sat off Reading, determined to protect that one goal lead this time Paul Cook’s side had different ideas. Even going in at half-time with just a one goal lead you sensed there was more to come.
Jamal Lowe who has struggled throughout the season had his best game in a Latics shirt, the confidence that had been lacking in his game was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday and he capped it off with an amazing goal early in the second half.
With more to come from both Lowe and Moore we may finally get to see what we expected when we splashed out on the two forwards in the Summer. Latics again carried on pressing and could have had another two or three goals.
David Marshall, another signing who has had a difficult time since he arrived made a crucial triple save and at that point it really felt like it would be Latics night. That was until Poor Chey Dunkley clashed with Cedric Kipre and it looks as though the latter will be out for a long period of time.
The players were visibly distressed as their stricken team mate was taken off the pitch on a stretcher and straight in to a waiting ambulance. It was to their eternal credit that they managed to get a third as the game re-started. Michael Jacobs rolled back the years and scored one of those fabulous goals where you see him cut in side, and in turn cut through a defence.
So three goals, three points and another big boost in Latics fight against the drop. Losing Chey Dunkley will be a blow but if Latics can harness the spirit they managed after the big man left the pitch and use it to influence them in the remaining weeks of the season we can definitely climb out of that relegation zone.
There’s so much to be pleased with in recent weeks but we’re not out of this yet, we need to pick up more wins and in games much more difficult than Wednesday.
That starts with a trip to the Midlands to face the league leaders on Saturday afternoon – it won’t be easy but we know this Latics side definitely has the ability, after a torrid first half of the season can Wigan Athletic and indeed Paul Cook finally show us what they’re made of?