Five things we learned from Lincoln (h)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 2-1 home defeat to Lincoln on Tuesday night...
1 Not so fast! Nothing Wigan Athletic-related over the last 18 months or so has been straightforward, and that's certainly been the case on the field of late. No sooner than Latics send out a statement of intent to the rest of the division, they let their guard down and suffer the consequences. For Bolton and MK Dons last week, read Wimbledon and Lincoln this week. Pretty much the same group of players, huge difference in performance levels.
2 Peak and off-peak gulf! Leam Richardson joked after Saturday's victory at Wimbledon he would be scrapping all midweek matches from now on, and insisting they be played at the weekend, such was the 'Jekyll and Hyde' nature of results. At least, we think he was joking, but the remarkable disparity in fortunes certainly warrants some scrutiny. Latics are now winless in their NINE midweek matches this term in all competitions. In stark contrast, they have won their last NINE Saturday fixtures, since the opening-day reversal at Sunderland. Whether it's the bumper weekend crowds that get the players going, or an aversion to floodlights, who knows? But it needs addressing as a matter of urgency.
3 Stretching the point! While it's not quite 'bare bones' time, it's fair to say the squad is looking a lot less healthy than it did a fortnight ago. Jordan Cousins has been a big miss since damaging his hamstring at Bolton earlier this month. And the sight of Tom Naylor limping off in midweek was the last thing Latics needed. Max Power, who's been playing in the backline, is also one booking off serving a suspension, potentially leaving on-loan Preston man Tom Bayliss as the last midfielder standing. Charlie Wyke has also been on four bookings for the last few weeks, although injury took him out of the starting XI against Lincoln. Callum Lang finally fell off the disciplinary tightrope, and will miss this weekend's visit of Burton through injury. Leam Richardson has been reluctant to change his side this term - at the moment, he has no other choice.
4 As one door closes, another one opens! The lack of game time for Tom Pearce - last season's first-choice left-back - has been a source of debate among Latics fans of late, with Tenday Darikwa having been switched there to accommodate Max Power's inclusion at right-back. Given the current midfield malaise, Power looks set to revert to his former role, leaving the door open for Pearce to show what he can do down the left. Arguably Latics' best player last term before injury struck - and having attracted Championship interest over the summer - Pearce has the opportunity, and the tools, to make sure his return to the fold isn't a temporary one.
5 Massive boost! One of the few positives from the game was the late goal scored by Gavin Massey, a player who is in desperate need of a lift. Having seen the vast majority of his colleagues depart for pastures new, it must have been difficult for Massey to remain last year with a much-changed landscape. Even more so given a succession of injuries that hampered his ability to show what he can do on the field. He's proved he can do damage in this division in the past, and hopefully his goal will give him the confidence boost he needs to regain his regular starting spot in attack.
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