Five things we learned from Ipswich (h)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 0-0 draw against Ipswich on Saturday...
1 Another step closer. Yes, Latics were the better side against the Tractor Boys and, yes, they should have harvested the three points. But it's another point on the board, which halves the gap to safety with nine games to go. It's now one defeat in the last five for Latics, who have picked up eight points from that sequence. That's more than any other side in the dogfight during the same period, even with everything that's been going on - on and off the pitch. Keep that going, and they'll fancy their chances of staying up.
2 Raise the gloves to the pavilion! The clean sheet was also Wigan's third during that five-match sequence. And after the carnage at Accrington the previous weekend, it was back to the solidity and security of the games preceding that anomaly. Jamie Jones had only one real save to make during the game, but he kept his concentration admirably to secure his 100th career shut-out - a fantastic personal achievement. Credit also to the four defenders in front of him, and two central midfielders, who kept their opponents at arm's length throughout.
3 Call of duty. At the other end, it wasn't quite so great, with Latics struggling to get much going in the final third to trouble the visiting defence. Incredibly, three of the best four chances fell to holding midfielder Funso Ojo, whose finishing ability is certainly behind his tackling, breaking up play and bossing the engine room. The other opportunity fell to Callum Lang, who weaved his way into the box before being denied by the Town goalkeeper. While some have suggested he may have been better advised playing the ball across goal, Lang - Latics' biggest threat in front of goal by some distance - had every right to take on the shot, and on another day could easily have found the net.
4 Cancelling each other out. With Leam Richardson and Paul Cook having worked so closely for so many years, it was perhaps hugely predictable their sides would have known in advance what the other was going to do and, in the end, succeeded only in cancelling each other out. A point apiece was an 'okay' result - in Cook's words - for probably both. But if the former colleagues are to achieve their respective goals at the end of the campaign, they will have to tweak the magic formula in the final third to turn one points into three.
5 Bodies on the line stuff! It's fair to say the sight of Viv Solomon-Otabor on the team sheet raised eyebrows an hour before kick-off. The forward had been all-but ruled out for the campaign by Leam Richardson the previous weekend, only to make a Lazarus-style recovery. Actually, it was less a Lazarus-style recovery, and more the painkilling jabs he took before the game to numb the pain from his knee, complete with floating bones. Out of contract in a couple of months, Solomon-Otabor could easily have emptied his locker at Christopher Park and, in true Who Wants To Be A Millionaire fashion, 'taken the money'. That he's elected to literally put his body on the line for the team - and his colleagues - shows the kind of fighting spirit that's never been in doubt at any stage of this campaign. If passion and desire is anything to do with it, this group won't be found wanting.
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