Five things we learned from Rochdale (a)
1 It's never dull with Latics (and Rochdale). Exactly a month after Dale's 5-0 victory at the DW Stadium - Wigan's only defeat in their last seven matches - this time the two sides shared six goals at Spotland. That makes a total of 29 goals in Latics' last six matches...incredibly, Rochdale's last half a dozen fixtures have produced 35! Clearly both sides have issues at the back, but with such attacking intent, fans of neither side can complain much about the entertainment on offer.
2 Spirit in the camp. Watching Latics play with such positivity and purpose, it's easy to forget the carnage occurring off the field which would surely derail most clubs. The spirit instilled by Leam Richardson and Gregor Rioch - at such an uncertain time - is quite astonishing, and gives the side real hope of climbing the table before long. The way they took the early Rochdale goal in their stride and recovered to lead by the break was hugely impressive. And they'll know that, playing against 10 men for most of the game, they really ought to have come away with the victory their overall performance warranted.
3 Callum Lang is back. His departure last summer was arguably the most puzzling decision of the administration process - with his wages being minimal in comparison to most, and his proven track record at this level. After half a season in Scotland with Motherwell, the 22-year-old was recalled at the earliest possible opportunity. And his performance alongside Kyle Joseph - including a first senior goal for Latics - served only to whet the appetite for what's hopefully on the way.
4 Defensively light. The manner of Rochdale's last-gasp leveller summed up the way it's going for Latics at the moment. All the potential and passion in the world. But lacking that physical presence at centre-back at the crucial moment. Remarkably, Latics finished the game with four full-backs across the backline. Having seen loan men Curtis Tilt and Darnell Johnson return to their parent clubs, the last thing they needed was the sight of Adam Long limping off with an ankle problem. Fingers crossed he's not too badly injured - and Leam Richardson can succeed in bringing in at least one more centre-back this month.
5 The future is bright. I normally try to avoid cliches like the plague, but the long-term prognosis for Latics remains extremely bright - if they can just see their way through the short-term mire. The 14 players on duty at Spotland included NINE graduates from the club's burgeoning Academy. The sale of teenage trio Jensen Weir, Joe Gelhardt and Alfie Devine last summer - before the transfer window officially opened - literally saved the club from losing all of its first-team squad, who otherwise wouldn't have been paid, for free. Now the fruits of the labour of Gregor Rioch and his team of coaches is holding up the club on the field as well. An incredible success story - with hopefully a very happy ending to come.
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