Five things we learned from Accrington (a)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 3-1 defeat at Accrington on Saturday...
1 Three steps forward and one big one back! After picking up seven points from the previous nine available - and only one goal conceded - Latics went into the game full of confidence and belief. But the afternoon pretty much peaked on the 40-second mark, after Callum Lang raced on to Dan Gardner's perfectly-weighted through ball to put the visitors ahead. Boss Leam Richardson acknowledged a lack of fight, work-rate and effort - which has rarely if ever been called into question this term. He also dismissed any suggestion fatigue in the camp was an issue. Brutally honest as ever from the gaffer. One to draw a line under and move on.
2 Deja vu. After cutting out the errors at the back in recent weeks, there was a sickening sense of deja vu at the Wham Stadium as the home side were afforded the 'Freedom' (ask your parents) to overturn their early deficit. Cameron Burgess couldn't believe how much time and space he found himself in to nod in the equaliser, with several defenders watching on. And Jamie Jones was unable to deal with another set-piece shortly after, electing to challenge for the ball with his feet, which resulted in the home side taking a lead they never looked in danger of relinquishing. Even the third goal had a hard-luck story attached, with Tendayi Darikwa perhaps not needing to make the challenge which led to the game-clinching penalty. But as Leam Richardson mused after the game, it was a similar incident to one Latics didn't get in the first half - Callum Lang the man involved - underlining the fact it wasn't Wigan's day.
3 Fast out of the blocks! Callum Lang took less than 40 seconds to put Latics in front, but the goal should have come as no surprise to anyone. It's the NINTH time in the last 11 matches Latics have taken the lead, proving they are flying out of the traps with the best of 'em. However, only three of those have been converted into wins, perhaps pointing to a lack of game management and ability to see the job through. That's 14 points dropped from the last 33 available. Points which would have lifted Latics to the fringes of the play-off race. Even half that tally would have them pretty much safe already. They're doing the hard part most weeks. They just need to find a way of preventing precious points slipping away.
4 Never rains but it pours! As if the performance and result wasn't bad enough, there was further disappointment in the post-match press conference, where Leam Richardson revealed Gavin Massey will miss the rest of the season, while Viv Solomon-Otabor will be lucky to play any part in the run-in. For Solomon-Otabor, it's a hammer-blow after playing his way into form after being absent from the side between late October and early February. For Massey, the nightmare goes back even further. Being ruled out of the run-in means he will have missed more games (77) than he's played (70) in the last three years. At the age of 28, and out of contract in the summer, he could well have played his last game for the club. Let's hope - wherever he is next season - he's able to put the injuries behind him and get that beaming smile we frequently saw in the promotion-winning campaign of 2017-18 back on his face.
5 Squeaky bum time at the bottom! Despite the result, it's still pretty much 'as you were' in the relegation dogfight. Only Swindon of the bottom sides won, with a mere two points now separating the bottom six, with 10 games (for most) to go. And what about Rochdale? With 90 minutes on the clock against promotion-chasing Peterborough, they were drawing 2-2 and remaining bottom of the table. A 'winning' goal lifted them to the heady heights of sixth-bottom...before a 93rd-minute equaliser for Posh sees them propping up the rest again. It promises to be one of the tightest run-ins in history...how's your nerves?
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