Rochdale 4 Latics 1

Stephen Warnock, who hobbled off at Rochdale with a calf injury
Stephen Warnock, who hobbled off at Rochdale with a calf injury

There were more pre-season woes for Wigan Athletic as they went down 4-1 at Rochdale.

Latics were extremely poor throughout as first half goals from Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing put them on the back foot.

It looked like Gary Caldwell’s side were set to continue their pre-season goal drought too, before Yanic Wildschut fired home from close range with 14 minutes left to play.

But just when it looked like Wigan had dragged themselves back into the game, two more Rochdale goals killed them off.

A calamitous first half for Latics saw them have little of the ball as they conceded two quick goals with both highlighting what was a very poor defensive display.

While pre-season friendlies are never taken too seriously in terms of the result, Caldwell will surely have hoped for a much better performance with little on show to inspire the 200 or so Latics fans who made the short journey.

The Championship outfit looked anything but with their League One counterparts dominating and looking more like the side in the division above.

One positive for Wigan was the performance of youngster Luke Burke who stood out above his senior counterparts.

Rochdale’s attacking intentions were clear from the off and they thought they had the lead after 16 minutes when Joe Bunney fired home Joe Rafferty’s cross. However, the linesman’s flag came to Latics’ rescue.

While he was the hero at Macclesfield with his fine penalty save, Adam Bogdan’s error nearly made for a nightmare first start.

His scuffed clearance fell right into the feet of Bunney on the edge of the box but Max Power was quick to act and prevent a shot being fired back at the new Latics ‘keeper.

There was some real concern for Stephen Warnock minutes later when he went down in what looked like an innocuous challenge.

The former Liverpool man hobbled off for treatment before briefly returning to the fray.

However, he couldn’t run off his leg injury and was replaced by Jordan Flores with David Perkins dropping to fill the left-back position.

Rochdale continued to press with Wigan not getting out of second gear. Noble-Lazarus should have done better when he found himself with plenty of time on the edge of the box, but he fired his shot wide.

Flores sparked a bit of life into an abject Latics side when he made a strong run down the right to win a corner.

Max Power whipped the ball in for Burn but the defender’s header was weak and trickled wide.

Rochdale then marched up the pitch and got their opener. Bunney breezed down the right and was given far too much time, allowing him to cross for Noble-Lazarus who fired home.

The midfielder nearly doubled his account a couple of minutes later but his shot was deflected over by Michael Jacobs.

From the resulting corner, the hosts claimed for a penalty when Bunney appeared to be bundled down by Jack Hendry but the referee wasn’t interested.

The second did come just after the half-hour mark after an absolute howler from Burn.

With no pressure but on him whatsoever, the summer recruit casually passed the ball to Mendez-Laing.

The winger remained composed to fire an absolute thumper from the edge of the box into the corner of Bogdan’s goal.

Latics did start to come to life towards the end of the half when Wildschut’s crafty turn outwitted two Rochdale defenders.

The Dutchman executed one of his trademark runs into the box and saw his effort turned behind for a corner.

Burn then had a chance to redeem himself for his earlier error when Power put in a fine cross but his weak effort was easily saved by Josh Lillis.

A weary Latics trudged off for the break deservedly behind. Caldwell made just the one change with Will Grigg replacing Alex Gilbey.

The second half did start brighter with Latics putting the ball in the back of the net when Hendry headed home a corner but it was ruled out with the referee spotting a push.

Latics continued to try and up the tempo and a fine counter attack saw Wildschut and Grigg combine well to set up Nick Powell.

The midfielder did well to connect with the ball but his sliding effort was saved.

Both teams cancelled each other out for the next quarter of an hour, with neither creating any chances of note.

It was roles reversed from the first half with Latics starting to command the play. Unlike their hosts though, they couldn’t find the net.

Caldwell made a double substitution with 68 minutes on the clock with Perkins and Powell replaced by Sam Morsy and Ryan Colclough.

Wigan eventually got their goal after some fine work from Grigg and a great cross from youngster Burke set up Wildschut to score.

However, rather than push for an equaliser Latics just crumbled.

More abysmal defending allowed Niall Canavan to head home a free-kick before Calvin Andrew made it four when he was allowed as much time as he wanted to take a shot from the edge of the box.