Wigan Athletic won their 12th away league game of the season as they put Crewe Alexandra to the sword with a 2-0 victory. Latics were made to wait for the opening goal but were in control from minute 1 and put in the type of professional performance required in a promotion push.
We were expected to win going into the game given our away record and Crewe’s recent form (10 losses in 11 games) but thankfully there was no sign of complacency within the Latics ranks.
Leam Richardson made 3 changes to the side that drew 1-1 at MK Dons on Saturday with Tendayi Darikwa, Joe Bennett and Josh Magennis replacing Gavin Massey, Tom Pearce and Callum Lang. Graeme Shinnie also returned to the matchday squad after his 2 match ban with Jamie McGrath being left out of the 18.
McGrath’s absence raised eyebrows not only because many hoped he’d start the game but also because there wasn’t a huge amount of attacking depth on the bench if we needed an added spark. It placed a lot of pressure on the starting 11 to make sure we didn’t need to rely on our bench to change the game which we have done on several occasions.
The 3-4-1-2 system matched up against Crewe’s more reserved 5-3-2 and meant we went man for man with them in wide areas. Both our wing backs occupied theirs brilliantly and it created space in wide areas along the outside of Crewe’s back 3.
Less than a minute in Latics exploited this space with a long ball into the channel that was brilliantly chased down by Josh Magennis and we won a corner. Time after time these kind of balls were played and time after time Crewe’s defence weren’t able to cope with the pace and power of our front 2.
Latics opening goal came after Magennis was fouled chasing down one of these passes and won his side a free kick in a dangerous position.
Max Power’s set piece delivery was on point yet again and Josh Magennis headed home his first goal in Latics colours. It was a great moment for the Northern Irishman and was well deserved given his first half performance.
The timing of the goal right before half time was also brilliant for Latics as it seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side. Crewe had been time wasting virtually from minute 1 so to go in to the break a goal down must’ve been a real kick in the teeth. ￼￼
For Latics it was about getting a second goal as soon as possible to see out the victory and it took us just 8 second half minutes to do so.
Yet again Latics made use of the space outside of Crewe’s back 3 and put the game beyond doubt. As I touched on in the preview to this game this is an area of weakness for the Railwaymen and it was clearly something Leam told our lads to exploit. Thankfully they did so on numerous occasions.
We could’ve made it 3 but Tendayi Darikwa’s efforts were well defended. Darikwa put in a brilliant performance on his return to the side and he picked up several dangerous positions in more central areas to what you’d imagine. His positioning caused Crewe problems all evening and the skipper can count himself unlucky not to have added to the score line.
We navigated the final 30 minutes with relative ease as the home side really struggled to mount any dangerous attacks. A comfortable win in which most players didn’t have to leave 2nd gear is exactly what Latics would’ve hoped for last night and everyone involved with the club can be delighted with the outcome.
Post match Leam Richardson praised the 2000+ Tics fans that came to the game in yet another incredible example of away following. Our 9th consecutive midweek game was perhaps the most comfortable and for the first time this year Latics won’t be playing next Tuesday.
I won’t know what to do with myself!
Player of the Match
There are several candidates for POTM from yesterdays win but I’ve got to go with the man that *finally* got his first goal in Latics colours.
Josh Magennis led the line brilliantly from start to finish and was more than good value for his goal. Be it winning a corner in the first minute or winning a free kick in the last he put in a proper striker’s performance and showed just what he is capable of.
He touched the ball more times than he has in any other game (36) and won 6 aerial duels out of 9 which has been a part of his game that’s come under criticism in games gone by. He also made a key pass and perhaps most impressively was not dispossessed once all night, exactly what you want from a hold up player.
And most importantly he grabbed the Latics opener with a brilliant header into the top corner. It was a passionate celebration from both him and his team mates and there have been several social media posts from thee lads praising Magennis for his goal.
The first of many hopefully!
On to Morecambe we go! This was on paper Latics’ easiest game left and we got through it with flying colours so let’s hope we do the same on Saturday afternoon.
Hopefully tonight has put some more confidence into the squad and Leam that no matter what 11 is put out we always have a good chance of winning. Remain professional and remain confident and it will only be a matter of time before we’re celebrating what we set out to achieve in August.
Up The Tics!