Five things we learned from Doncaster (a)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 4-1 victory at Doncaster on Saturday...
1 Trust in the process! Leam Richardson must have feared sounding like a broken record in recent weeks, where he continued to point out Latics were playing better than their results were suggesting. Last week he cited stats claiming Latics were in the top three in the division for both high quality of chances created, as well as for low quality of chances created at the other end. And his faith in the process was fully vindicated in a magnificent performance - arguably the best of the campaign - when Doncaster saw any remaining hopes of a play-off finish go up in smoke.
2 Where there's a Will! Questions had rightly been asked in recent weeks about where the real Will Keane had disappeared to. Since a bout of Covid in January, the former Manchester United junior had gone FOURTEEN games without so much as a sniff at goal, before smashing that duck in style at the 15th attempt on Saturday. And it wasn't just his late poacher's effort which signaled he's back. It was the way he conducted the attack like an orchestra from start to finish, also forcing a fantastic save from the home goalkeeper before laying No.3 on a plate for Viv Solomon-Otabor. More of the same, please.
3 Go-go Joe! Also impressive in the final third was Joe Dodoo, who took less than three minutes to justify his inclusion with a rocket strike that set the platform for what followed. Dodoo's overall display in leading the line was hugely encouraging, and his unselfish work in creating the final goal for Keane shows he's more than just a battering ram up top. It would also be remiss not to acknowledge the key roles played in wide roles by Solomon-Otabor and Thelo Aasgaard, making the most of the solid platform laid by Funso Ojo and Lee Evans, who controlled the engine room throughout.
4 Keeping it tight! While most of the headlines will go to the six attacking players in the side, how about the big man in yellow who kept Doncaster at arm's length at the other end? With their tails up after pulling a goal back right on half-time, Rovers threw everything at Latics at the beginning of the second stanza. But a couple of fantastic saves from Jamie Jones - who up to that point had very little to do - prevented the door opening any further. Wigan's skipper and most experienced player came under fire for a few costly mistakes earlier this term. It's only right his return to form, over a sustained period of a couple of months, is recognised accordingly.
5 How's your nerves? Latics are now only a point adrift of safety with six matches remaining. Four of those are at the DW Stadium, but that doesn't necessarily mean much - Latics have the second-worst home record in the division. But it at least means things are very much in their own hands. Tuesday's visit of Sunderland will be extremely tough, as will the trip to high-flying Hull later this month. But the other four games present a quartet of very winnable matches...Crewe, Shrewsbury and Burton have nothing but pride to play for, while the final-day visit of Swindon will hopefully see a repeat of previous last-day celebrations for Latics. One thing's for sure - it's never dull with this club.