Five things we learned from Solihull Moors (a)

Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 2-1 victory at Solihull in the FA Cup first-round replay on Tuesday night...

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 2:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 3:02 pm
Gwion Edwards celebrates Latics' leveller at Solihull

1 Safely through - just! After 210 minutes of FA Cup drama, Latics sneaked into the second round of the FA Cup despite a fantastic effort from non-league Solihull Moors. It's fair to say Latics didn't hit their straps until probably the hour mark of the replay, which saw them equalise and then win the game in extra time. But that was as much down to the quality and work-rate of their opponents, who did what no opposition side has done to Latics in the league so far - stop them scoring. That said...

2 Paying the penalty! ...the goal that put Solihull ahead three minutes into the second period at Damson Park caused a collective scratching of heads that will be going on for some time. As Latics cleared their lines, the referee suddenly pointed to the penalty spot. Despite TV replays showing any handball offence had been committed by a Solihull player. As Leam Richardson eloquently put it after, to give the penalty, the officials had to be 100 per cent sure. They couldn't have been - and the referee even turned away in the first instance before pointing to the spot. Thankfully, it didn't affect the final outcome. But another one for the 'pro-VAR' argument.

3 Every little helps! The second round draw, which sees Latics travel to Colchester, was treated with disdain by fans even before the powers-that-be decided to switch the game to Sunday at 12.30pm. Meaning the travelling 'Tics will have to be up and away at silly o'clock to get there in good time. But there is a carrot attached. After banking £23,000 prize money for beating Solihull, there's an additional £34,000 in prize money up for grabs for the winners of this one. The game being put back to Sunday for 'extended TV highlights' has added another £12,000 to the pot - and that's before the potential money-spinning possibility of one of the big boys in the third round. Thousands of reasons for ensuring Latics are on it at Colchester.

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4 Bodies on the way back! Leam Richardson's hand will hopefully be further strengthened by more returning bodies over the coming week or two. The inclusion of Kell Watts in the starting XI at Solihull was welcome, with Jack Whatmough also fit enough to take his place on the bench. With the lesser-spotted Joe Bennett finally making his debut in the Under-23s on Wednesday afternoon, that's three big defensive men back in the fold at the perfect time - with Latics having started a run of 11 games in the space of 44 days before the New Year.

5 Clubber Lang! Callum Lang once again showed himself to be a real leader of the new-look Latics at Solihull. With Latics looking for inspiration, the Academy product stepped up and helped the visitors to regain the ascendancy as the tie threatened to slip away from them. And his clever headed goal at the halfway point of extra-time - his sixth of the campaign - ultimately proved decisive. Lang's desperation to drag Latics back into it saw him collect his seventh yellow card of the campaign and, having already served a one-match ban, he just needs to temper that aspect of his game. But Leam Richardson will be loathe to lose that competitive streak and will to win which sets Lang apart and makes him the big hitter he is - every bit as explosive as his namesake from Rocky III...

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