Talking Football: Suddenly it’s all on

Will Grigg snatched a draw last weekend
Will Grigg snatched a draw last weekend

Well what a difference a fortnight makes.

Three draws in a row and, from looking a shoo-in for automatic promotion, Wigan Athetic suddenly have work to do.

And as Gary Caldwell would be the first to admit, they only have themselves to blame.

I can’t recall seeing the Latics boss looking as angry as he did when he emerged from the sheds following the 3-3 draw at Colchester last weekend.

There wasn’t even a suspicion of delight or relief his side had got out of jail thanks to Will Grigg’s last-minute equaliser.

Caldwell knew full well Latics had blown a big chance to pick up another vital victory - and left the door open for their promotion rivals.

Walsall’s backs-to-the-wall victory at Fleetwood in midweek merely cranks up the pressure ahead of the all-important last 10 games of the season.

The clash at the Weston Homes Community Stadium was a familiar tale as far as Latics have been concerned this term.

So much possession, so much domination, and yet a failure to make hay while the sun shone.

A couple of ‘worldie’ goals and a penalty award best described as ‘generous’ later, and Latics are suddenly staring down the barrel at defeat in a game they ought already to have wrapped up.

Credit them again for coming back, though.

I don’t think anyone could accuse this Latics side of not possessing the necessary character and passion for the cause.

And I wouldn’t have fancied being one of the stewards behind the Colchester goal had Latics managed to force a stoppage-time winner for the umpteenth time this term...

It wasn’t to be, however, and we move on to Bradford on Saturday.

A side that looked out of the promotion picture a few weeks ago, only for a fine run to lift them into the dizzy heights of sixth.

With their physical brand of football, the Bantams will present a formidable test of Wigan’s promotion credentials this weekend.

But Latics have tended to do well against the better sides in League One, save for the opening few weeks of the campaign when they were still finding their feet.

If Caldwell’s men fail to hold on to an automatic promotion position, it won’t be their head to head record against the elite that will have cost them.

It will be the 13 points they’ve dropped against the bottom five sides in the division that will be more to blame.

Colchester (2), Oldham (2+2), Blackpool (3), Doncaster (2) and Crewe (2) have all taken points from games Latics would have expected to have won.

Having not done so, it now increases the pressure and expectation on big games like Saturday’s visit of Bradford.

Not that they’re not up to the challenge - far from it.

But they don’t half like making life difficult for themselves, don’t they?

With an epic journey that saw me leave my house at 0830 hours and return at 2330, the trip to Colchester is not one I’ll be looking forward to repeating in a hurry.

The wonderful detour provided through deepest Essex by the ‘replacement bus service for all stations to Ingatestone’ merely rubbed salt into the wounds.

When I was told on arrival at Colchester’s ground that there was no press food for the assembled media, I half-expected John Candy to appear, trying to sell me some shower curtain rings...(if that is lost on you, don’t miss ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ next Christmas...)

The comedy even continued on the way home, and spotting a train on the next platform heading for ‘Walton-on-the-Naze’ - a place I’d only ever previously heard on ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’, and half-suspected was made up.

An eventful trip...but it was very good to get home.

Sticking with last weekend’s trip to Colchester, there was quite a scene when our train pulled in to Euston station at dinnertime...to find a couple of seriously big cars on the platform, surrounded by a crowd of hundreds waving camera-phones and screaming deliriously.

Who could the mystery superstar be, I wondered, as a shadow was hurried off the train and into the car, which soon screeched off into the distance.

The Prime Minister? Second thoughts, no, the crowd was cheering.

A member of the royal family? Difficult to tell.

With me being on my down to Essex, perhaps Joey Essex? The mind was boggling.

At least it was until I nosily asked one of the PR girls hanging around, who informed me, excitedly, that it was......’ADELE!!!’

Underwhelming to say the least.

At least she should have got down to the Weston Homes Community Stadium a good hour before I eventually did, and got a good seat in the away end.

An interesting stat to emerge from last weekend was the fact Gary Caldwell, for the first time, was able to name a starting XI completely made up from his own signings.

In fact, it was the first time a Wigan manager had been able to do that since Paul Jewell’s selection for the trip to Liverpool in April 2007.