Five things we learned from Latics' 3-1 victory at Plymouth that sent them five points clear at the top of League One...
1. This Latics side can mix it as well as roll over teams!
For the most part, Paul Cook’s men have possessed the quality and skill to wipe the floor with their League One opposition this term. However, against a Plymouth side with five wins and three draws in their last eight games, they had to roll up their sleeves and battle for every ball. They had to withstand some concerted pressure from the home side, who ‘won’ all the stats. Apart from the one that matters. And that will have pleased Cook as much as any victory achieved this term.
2. Christian Walton is human after all!
Okay, Latics were unable to hold out for an eighth league clean sheet in row, which would have equalled a 15-year-old club record. But it took a penalty to finally breach what had seemed to be an unbeatable backline...731 minutes since the last goal shipped, at Rotherham on November 25. It was the first time Walton had picked the ball out of his net since the Portsmouth home game on August 26, before he suffered a broken leg the following week.
3. Sam Morsy’s bid for sainthood is at an end!
The Egypt star’s booking during the half-time interval was his first in 15 matches – after accruing eight cautions in the opening 15 games of the campaign. Morsy had successfully managed to keep his name out of the referee’s notebook for a couple of months without compromising his inimitable style of play. But he’s now on nine bookings for the season – one away from an automatic two-game ban– which is an obvious concern.
4. Max Power is well and truly back in the swing!
Having endured a frustrating first half to the campaign, and slipping behind Lee Evans in the pecking order, he’s taken full advantage of the departure of the on-loan Wolves midfielder by rediscovering his form of two seasons ago during the League One title-winning campaign. Two more assists at Plymouth, matching his tally against Bournemouth in the FA Cup last Wednesday, underline his immense value to the side – both on and off the field.
5. The Latics faithful are something else!
Ordinarily, any supporter making the 572-mile round-trip to Plymouth – in rain, sleet and snow – would deserve a huge pat on the back.But after a month which has already seen long-haul trips to Wimbledon, Oxford, Northampton and Bournemouth – in addition to the cost of Christmas – those travelling fans deserve a medal. An amazing 459 of them were at Home Park, and the long trip back would have been made all the more joyous with three precious points.