Latics travel to Cheltenham for the first time in 20 years, with Leam Richardson’s side looking to extend their unbeaten record to 18 games. Meanwhile, this weekend’s opponents are looking to put an end to their own unwanted run of 10 games without victory.
But runs don’t last forever and we shouldn’t expect an easy ride against Michael Duff’s side this Saturday.
Latics Team News
The EFL Trophy quarter-final in midweek allowed the majority of our regular squad members to get some much needed rest ahead of a hectic schedule across 3 competitions. Only Max Power kept his spot in the team following the 3-2 victory against Gillingham, and he was subbed just 30 minutes in.
Assuming Callum Lang and new signing Josh Magennis remain side-lined with ankle injuries, I expect we’ll see the same 11 that secured victory over the Gills last Saturday.
Tics fans will be hoping that Stephen Humphrys grabs his 3rd goal in as many games, with the 24 year old looking like he’s ready to fill the void left by Charlie Wyke’s absence.
Firstly, I’d like to bring your attention to some of Cheltenham boss Michael Duff’s pre-match comments as I feel like they tell us everything we will need to know about Saturday’s game.
“It’s going to be a difficult game, we know that. We have to try and fight and compete, be horrible, be a team scrapping, which we are.”
I’m sure by now our squad will be used to opposition teams taking this mentality into games with them, it is what comes with the territory at the top of the league. Perhaps our biggest strength this season has been our ability to match our opponents grit and determination, as seen by the high number of late goals we’ve scored this season.
Cheltenham’s 3-5-2 system will be difficult to break down, something promotion rivals Rotherham discovered last weekend. I also anticipate a large number of fouls to be given away which could bode well for us given Max Power and James McClean’s dead ball abilities.
Player to Watch
Many would consider Alfie May to be Cheltenham’s star man with the 28 year old having netted 7 times so far this season for The Robins. However, in my opinion 21 year old Leicester loanee Callum Wright is the dangerman Latics should be most wary of this weekend.
Wright, a creative central midfielder, spent last season on loan at Cheltenham in their promotion campaign before being brought back to the club this summer. He has featured 15 times this season scoring 5 and assisting 2.
He is a confident player that fancies his ability to score from range, attempting 2.75 shots per 90 minutes. Of these shots, 1.17 hit the target, so Ben Amos can expect to be tested whenever Wright finds himself in space within shooting range.
He is also a capable defender, with 1.45 tackles per 90 minutes in the heart of an industrious Cheltenham midfield.
I can’t imagine it being a classic match, one we will look back on in 10 years with fond memories because of eye-catching football and bucket loads of goals, but it is the type of game promotion contenders turn up and win. I’m sure there will be points where we are under pressure on a tight pitch against tough battle-hardened opposition, but there is nothing to suggest we won’t be up to the task.
Cheltenham 1-2 Latics