Five things we learned from Gillingham (h)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 3-2 victory against Gillingham at the weekend...
1 Back on top! The debate about whether it's better to have points on the board or games in hand is over, with Latics now having the advantage of BOTH over their promotion rivals. Despite having played four games fewer than second-placed Sunderland and fourth-placed Wycombe, and two fewer than third-placed Rotherham, Leam Richardson's men are back on top of League One after two-and-a-half months of chasing. With all three to play next month, it promises to be an exciting two-from-four race to the finishing line.
2 Getting the job done! We saw the two main reasons why Latics are top of the pile during an eventful game at the DW Stadium. For the first 45 minutes, Latics played struggling Gillingham off the park, and the 2-0 interval scoreline flattered the visitors hugely. Latics had also hit the post and bar, as well as having another effort miraculously cleared off the line. As the saying goes, if it had been a boxing match, the towel would already have been thrown in. But a spirited response from Gillingham, who scored with their only two efforts on goal, threatened to undo the previous good work. But another trait this Latics side has is the ability to keep going right to the end, and Will Keane's late winner was once again no fluke or coincidence. Promotion rivals must be expecting late drama from Latics having seen it happen so often.
3 Cause for concern? If there is a worry at the moment, it's the seeming inability for Latics to keep a clean sheet. Despite boasting the second best defensive record in the third tier, Latics haven't kept a clean sheet in the league since October 30, against a Burton side that played for 75 minutes with 10 men. Latics have dominated the majority of those games, but have been powerless to stop the opposition from breaking them down. There's clearly nothing wrong with the personnel. Is it merely concentration? Or something else?
4 'More than steady' Eddie! Arguably Latics' stand-out performer against the Gills was Gwion Edwards, who assisted the first two goals for Will Keane and Stephen Humphrys, and was a constant menace down the right-hand side with his pace and invention. A lengthy bout of Covid prevented the Welshman from making more of an impact in the first half of the campaign. But a run of games in the side is showing everyone why he was one of Leam Richardson's first recruits for the 'New Era' last summer.
5 Shinniesta! Latics fans were also treated to their first sight of Graeme Shinnie, the recent signing from Derby County. And on the basis of his maiden 90 minutes, the former Scotland international will prove to be a shrew signing - for an absolute snip. Shinnie ran the midfield in the first half without breaking sweat, attracting the ball like a magnet and sending it this way and that with casual swings of his left foot. Latics desperately needed a replacement for Jordan Cousins for the rest of the campaign. They've landed someone who will have no worries adapting to the league above, should that be where Latics end up next term.
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