Two cup matches, two different outcomes

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Oh Wigan Athletic you contrary football club. How we’ve missed you.

So after that glorious win over Fleetwood it was back to the focus of the cup’s this week and it’s fair to say Saturday didn’t exactly go to plan.

A strong side was named by Leam Richardson, in his own words treating the cup with the respect it deserves from former winners and semi-finalists like ourselves. It should have been a comprehensive win for the highest placed side in the competition against the National League challengers but a well drilled Solihull had different ideas.

We all should know by now that the FA Cup can throw up results like this, indeed a quick scan of the rest of the weekend’s results shows a large number of non-league or lowly placed sides taking those bigger clubs to replays or indeed knocking them out all together.

We weren’t alone on Saturday at struggling to get past our non-league opponents and I wonder how much the atmosphere at home contributed to that? There’s been a bit of heat on social media about the lack of numbers in attendance on Saturday.

It was our lowest ever attendance for an FA Cup match and although we’ve bigger fish to fry I did harbour hopes of our attendances doing better this season. So much was said last year of the town not taking the football club for granted again and although individually every person has their own circumstances to worry about as a collective I would hope we could do better.

It’s hard playing in the DW at the best of times, it’s a huge stadium and can be rocking when there’s ten thousand plus in there. When there’s barely two thousand though sadly you’re going to struggle to gain any sort of atmosphere to help the lads across the line.

I can’t blame anyone who wasn’t there, we all have our own individual issues within life of course, as a regular shift worker Saturday fell on one of my two weekends a month so it was a game I was never going to be able to get to. I’ll be at the replay though because nothing is more attractive than a Tuesday night away in Solihull.

Add to the result losing another two centre backs is clearly a massive blow, it led to a lot questioning why the manager played such a strong side on Saturday. He was then criticised in some quarters for playing a perceived weakened team on Wednesday against Shrewsbury showing once and for all that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Speaking of Tuesday’s our midweek hoodoo is seemingly gone for ever, especially after Wednesday night’s showing in the Pizza Cup. Despite not scoring a goal in the competition and being out classed by Crewe last month, Latics still somehow had a chance of qualifying for the knock out stages on  Wednesday night.

It’s sadly a much diminished competition the old football league trophy, not because of the ever changing list of sponsors but because of the EFL’s decision to allow the competition to become a testing ground for the Premier League’s U21 sides.

A competition that offered a chance of a cup final at Wembley for those lower league clubs that would normally never dream of such things has been completely devalued by the introduction of what is nothing more than Premier League reserve sides. Until that changes I don’t imagine the competition will be given the respect it deserves.

Nonetheless after last season I try my best to look forward to any match involving Wigan Athletic as for so long it felt like we may not get the chance too again. Shrewsbury named a near full strength side whilst the injury hit Latics played a side made up of mainly academy graduates with a smattering of first team professionals including Gavin Massey, Tom Pearce, Gwion Edwards and Jamie Jones.

From minute one Latics looked well up for it, and despite losing James Carragher to injury early on dominated proceedings throughout.

It was a really pleasing night, seeing how young lads such as Baba Adeeko, Scott Smith and Chris Sze seized their chance alongside more established academy lads such as Thelo Aasgaard, Luke Robinson and Adam Long.

Also what a story for Divin Baningime, released by the club last year to free up money and a space in the squad. Resigned on a short term contract this season and reaping the rewards with regular appearances in the U23’s and now the first team.

After seeing how the lads conducted themselves last night I’d be more than happy to see that side at Solihull on Tuesday, which is probably a good thing considering the wait for the medical room and the amount of players away on international duty.

Sean Livesey

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