Talking football: Proof this side is made of sterner stuff

A battling performance earned Latics a point on Tuesday night
A battling performance earned Latics a point on Tuesday night

A total of 281 Wigan Athletic fans made the trip to Millwall on Tuesday night.

I’m not sure what they deserve more – a medal or a visit to a good shrink!

But what they unquestionably deserved, and got, from their side was a battling performance and a precious point that could prove so telling in the final shake-up.

When Sam Morsy was – rightly – given his marching orders just after the half-hour mark, not many inside the ground would have given Latics much of a shot of holding out.

The Lions had been the better side 11-on-11, and the pressure only exacerbated with a man’s advantage.

There were echoes of last term, when Latics saw both Martyn Waghorn and Jason Pearce sent off in a defeat that all but confirmed their relegation to the third tier.

But this Latics side is made of sterner stuff – much sterner stuff – and refused to accept the seemingly inevitable.

It was hugely appropriate that Pearce – the only survivor from the starting XI that night – was outstanding as Latics dug in, displaying real backs-to-
the-wall spirit, and repelled everything that was thrown at them.

Indeed, the defensive triangle of Pearce, Craig Morgan and goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen has played a massive part in the five clean sheets in the last six games that has underpinned the rise to second spot in League One.

All three are proven at a higher level, and would not look out of place again were Latics to regain their second-tier status at the first time of asking.

Just 12 hurdles stand between Latics and promotion – starting with the visit of Peterborough on Saturday.

Posh were themselves looking a decent bet for the play-offs when Latics won 3-2 at London Road back in October.

But the sale of star striker Conor Washington to QPR in January sent out completely the wrong message and, on current form, they’ll consider the avoidance of relegation as a decent achievement.

One of the men brought in with the Washington cash was Shaq Coulthirst, the Spurs teenager who spent a largely anonymous spell on loan with Latics at the start of the campaign.

Hopefully the young man has as many kicks of the football this weekend as he did during his time at the DW, and Latics can take another significant step toward the Championship.

Marcus Rashford’s rise to fame is one of the stories of the season so far.

The 18-year-old was unable to get a game for Manchester United’s Development Squad a few weeks ago.

But four goals in the space of three days – which saw United advance in the Europa League and seal a big Premier League win over Arsenal – hints at a massive future ahead.

Not that Rashford will be allowed to let fame get to his head.

With talk of a new £15,000-a-week contract in the offing, he was straight back to earth with a bang on Monday morning...for a chemistry exam at college!

Rashford is the latest in a long production line of talent from the Fletcher Moss boys club in Manchester that also produced Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck, Jesse Lingard...and ex-Latics loan star Jordy Hiwula.

A sports bar in Leeds has named a huge burger in honour of the football team’s larger-than-life manager.

The ‘Steve Evans burger’ consists of a beef patty topped with grilled chicken breast, crispy bacon, BBQ pulled pork, mature cheddar, onion ring, hash brown and a fried egg.

Given the meek nature of the Leeds surrender at Brighton on Monday night – and the media gagging of Evans in the aftermath by owner Massimo Cellino – Evans might be better off trademarking the burger and going into the food industry full-time.

The Leeds job continues to be a recipe for disaster for any manager brave enough to stomach it.

The sight of Chris Brunt being struck by a coin thrown by a fan of his own club, West Bromwich Albion, last month was positively shocking.

What the Northern Ireland man didn’t deserve was to damage knee ligaments the following week which looks like keeping him out of this summer’s European Championships. They say things 
happen in threes. For Brunt’s sake, let’s 
hope his struggling club haven’t dropped into the Championship by the time he next kicks a ball.

I tend to take a lot of what I hear on talkSPORT with a pinch of salt, such is the sensational and outlandish nature of 
what’s said most of the time.

But I was particularly riled last month by the comments of 
Peterborough boss Graham Westley, who reckoned the FA Cup winners should not be allowed a Champions League spot as Wigan’s presence in it two years ago ‘would have dishonoured the competition’.

This week’s visitors to the DW Stadium?

Graham Westley’s Peterborough United. Team talk sorted, Gary.

Argentinian star Ezequiel Lavezzi quit Paris St-Germain last month for a new challenge in China – and a reported salary of £11.65million-a-year.

“It was always a dream of mine, growing up a kid in Buenos Aires, to play for Hebei China Fortune,” Lavezzi definitely didn’t say on putting pen to paper.

Instead, he admitted the ‘financial aspect’ was a key factor in his decision to turn down – among others – 
Manchester United, Chelsea and Inter 
Millan. In other news, politicians continue 
to tell lies, and bears still go to the
toilet in wooded areas.