Wigan Athletic made it back to back home victories with a comfortable 2-0 victory against relegation threatened Crewe Alexandra. The score line suggests a match far closer than it was, with Latics dominating from start to finish but failing to make the majority of their chances count.
Before the match an emotional tribute was paid to the late Muhammad Al Jasmi, the son of Wigan Athletic owner Abdulrahman Al Jasmi and brother in-law of Chairman Talal Al Hammad. A beautifully observed minutes applause was accompanied by a message on behalf of the Al Jasmi family in memory of Muhammad, who passed away aged just 21.
May he rest in peace.
Leam Richardson spoke after the game about how the Al Jasmi family had been mentioned in the team talk as a way of motivating the players, and they clearly responded well to this message.
On the front foot from minute 1 Latics could’ve (and maybe should’ve) found themselves 2 or 3 goals up at the break. Clear cut chances fell to Kell Watts, Will Keane and Josh Magennis, but they were all thwarted by an inspired performance from Crewe keeper Dave Richards.
Crewe’s clear desire to leave the DW with a point made for a frustrating first hour, but importantly the fans remained behind the players and as James McClean pointed out after the match ‘They didn’t moan or groan, they cheered us on through sticky patches which is massive for us.’
Eventually, possession was turned into penetration when a beautiful delivery from McClean landed on the head of Callum Lang who powerfully directed the ball past Richards. The goal was Lang’s 10th in the league this season and completely opened the game up. Crewe now had to try and score which created plenty of space for us to exploit.
A substitution on 68 minutes saw Stephen Humphrys and Graeme Shinnie introduced and both put in performances that will give the manager a decision to make as to whether or not they are brought back into the starting 11.
Shinnie’s 20 minute cameo was probably the best we’ve seen him play since his move from Derby County, with the Scottish international winning 2 tackles and registering 1 key pass after he replaced Will Keane.
Stephen Humphrys was yet again involved in a goal after being introduced from the bench. Nicknamed ‘Slim Shady’ following a change in hair colour, Humphrys really stood up to the task at hand when he laid the ball off to James McClean who powered the ball into the net from the corner of the box.
The goal completed an easy victory for Leam Richardson’s side and hopefully didn’t zap too much energy from the players ahead of Friday’s 1st vs 2nd clash with Rotherham United.
Player of the Match
Not for the first time this season (In fact I don’t think there’s been a game when it hasn’t happened) James McClean was on the receiving end of Sectarian abuse from opposition supporters. However, in typical style the ROI international let his football do the talking and registered a goal and assist to send those responsible home empty handed.
His all round performance was excellent in what is still a somewhat unnatural position at LB. McClean delivered 7 crosses and took 2 shots, but also showed his defensive solidity with 1 tackle and 3 aerial balls won.
And of course he marked his goal by holding both arms aloft with a smile on his face in front of the away end. Never change James, never ever change.
The general feeling amongst Latics fans now is that the gap between ourselves and 3rd place is more important than the gap between ourselves and 1st. Promotion out of this league is the aim and this victory has taken us 1 step closer to achieving that aim. But perhaps more importantly this victory will hopefully have given Mr Al Jasmi, Talal and all of their family a little bit of happiness to help them through this extremely difficult time.