Five talking points from Wigan Athletic’s 1-0 win at Birmingham...
1 Wigan Athletic scored a goal! An actual goal! A WINNING GOAL! Okay, it was from a corner, but the ball definitely ended up in the opposition net, and it was worth three priceless points. On a serious note, it was just what the doctor ordered after the dreadful defeat at Blackburn on Saturday, when a large section of the fanbase began to show their displeasure with the situation. At St Andrew’s, the supporters were in good voice from the first minute until the last, right behind their side, and they got their just desserts with a real ‘I was there’ moment.
2 Dan Burn is Superman! With apologies to Gary Caldwell, there is a new man sporting the blue tights and red trunks these days. Ironically it was Caldwell who brought Burn to the DW Stadium last summer and, like his manager did during his Latics playing career, the big centre-half made a few mistakes before finding his feet. But just like Caldwell in season 2011/12, Burn has got better with each passing week, and looks an absolute shoo-in for the Player of the Year award. Graham Barrow called him ‘the best centre-half in the Championship’ at the weekend. No-one was arguing on Tuesday night.
3 The return of Alex Gilbey has revitalised the Latics engine room at the perfect stage of the season. Graham Barrow was particularly unhappy with the midfield in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Blackburn, but Gilbey’s first start in six months at Birmingham - after overcoming a serious ankle ligament injury - quickly righted that wrong. The ex-Colchester man was the outstanding Latics player in both pre-season and the first five or six weeks of the campaign, before he was cut down. But he’s desperate to make up for lost time. He could easily have had a couple of goals at Birmingham, and that bodes well for Latics between now and May.
4 Warren Joyce made a welcome return to the technical area at St Andrew’s as he recovers from recent minor eye surgery. And his recovery will have received no greater tonic than watching his Latics side dig in and really show their mettle in grinding out a deserved three points. Interestingly, the manager sported a pair of trousers on the touchline, rather than his more customary pair of shorts - and Latics won the game. Coincidence? Who knows. But with a 100 per cent win record sporting slacks, surely he daren’t risk switching back for Saturday’s crucial clash with third-bottom Bristol City...?
5 There are more twist and turns in the Championship than an episode of Broadchurch! Just three days after looking down and out in the aftermath of Saturday’s defeat at Blackburn, Latics are alive again in the relegation dogfight with renewed spirit. Blackburn looked dead and buried a few weeks ago, but eight points from four games under Tony Mowbray has seen them climb clear of the danger-zone and looking up rather than down. Teams like Wolves, Nottingham Forest and maybe even Birmingham - who were eyeing the play-offs only weeks ago - are now looking over their shoulders with real fear. If Latics can build on the momentum generated from the win over Gianfranco Zola’s men, it could drag a few more teams into the mire.