Five things we learned from Swindon (h)

Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 4-3 home defeat to Swindon on Saturday...

Monday, 10th May 2021, 10:22 am
Will Keane heads for goal against Swindon

1 Final-day flourish! Latics being Latics, the most eventful season in the club's 89-year history was never going to end on a damp squib. And there were more than enough talking points from a seven-goal thriller at the DW to take into the summer. On a positive note, some of the football played by Latics was a joy to watch, and they could and should have been even more emphatically ahead than the 3-1 lead they held on the hour mark. On a negative note, and as acknowledged by Leam Richardson after the game, the way the side capitulated in the last 15 minutes should never have happened, and undid all of the good work up to that point. That said...

2 Ref justice! ...Graham Salisbury certainly made a splash on his 588th and final game in the EFL before retirement. And his utterly ludicrous decision to red-card Curtis Tilt midway through the second half - possibly THE worst decision I have ever witnessed - was undoubtedly the turning point of a match that Latics had total control of. Watching the incident back, Tilt barely even fouls Swindon forward Tyler Smith as the pair chased a long goal-kick downfield. For the official to pull out the red card was as bewildering as it was unnecessary, and was a huge factor in the carnage that unfolded. Tilt's face as he left the field, removing his shirt in disgust, said it all. Salisbury was presented with a frame, signed Latics shirt before the game to mark his retirement. He should not have been allowed to leave the stadium with it.

3 Bigger picture! Anyway, all of this is, thankfully, of no huge concern given Latics had already secured their League One safety with a game to spare. Yes, it was a shame they weren't able to add icing to the survival cake, but let no-one be in any doubt - this has been one of the most successful seasons in the club's history - if not the best ever. No titles or cups were lifted, but the fans secured a prize bigger than any silver pot. They won their club back. And after a year when that seemed a forlorn pipedream, that's got to be worth celebrating...right?

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4 Fanfare! And on that score, those Latics fans didn't disappoint. Despite the pre-match statement from the club advising supporters to stay at home, there was always going to be a sizeable number turning up outside the ground to thank the players for their efforts - scenes we've seen up and down the country in recent weeks. And it's important to underline how sensible the fans were in not taking their celebrations too far, given the restrictions still in place, and how - unlike the scenes at some other clubs - the mood was exclusively good-natured and joyful. It was great to see the players coming back out of the dressing room to thank the fans for their efforts - underlining the massive team spirit and ethos that has underpinned everything achieved over the last 12 months. The first home game of next season will be some occasion.

5 Next season starts here! Believe it or not, it's only three months until we do all this again - hopefully with fans back inside grounds. The Latics squad will be back in for pre-season training in just six weeks, and it'll be interesting to see how many of the players on duty against Swindon will be staying on. At present, only five players are under contract beyond this summer. Despite the euphoria of staying up, Latics are miles behind everyone else in terms of recruitment and planning for next season. Securing the likes of Tendayi Darikwa, Will Keane, George Johnston, Viv Solomon-Otabor - not to mention loan men Funso Ojo and Curtis Tilt - would be a massive step forward, not to mention a huge statement of intent. Over to you, Talal...

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