Five things we learned from Plymouth (h)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 1-1 home draw against Plymouth on Saturday afternoon...
1 Rot stopped! Kal Naismith admitted in the build-up that Latics needed a result - any result - to stop the losing streak, which stood at four matches. And the super Scot couldn't have done any more to get Latics back on level terms, producing the cross that led to the disallowed goal from Lee Evans, before teeing up Will Keane's header midway through the second period. Naismith has gone from being a boo-boy to a team leader in the space of 12 months, and it's great to see him now allowed to showcase his talents in the attacking third as opposed to filling in at the back. That said...
2 ...defensive errors continue to blight Latics. John Sheridan is beginning to sound like a broken record in his post-match interviews, but the team is killing itself by constantly gifting soft goals to the opposition. In hindsight, Jamie Jones would have been better served putting his foot through the ball rather than trying to play a risky pass to Tom Pearce, whose efforts to control the ball - in awful conditions due to the torrential rain - succeeded only in teeing up Ryan Hardie for an easy finish. Latics are having to work so hard for every goal they score - the opposition, sadly, not so much at the moment.
3 Second-half team... John Sheridan must also have been feeling deja vu at half-time, with Latics once again requiring a rollicking from their manager to produce a performance befitting of the quality in the camp. "Off the top of my head, there's Gillingham, Doncaster, Charlton and now Plymouth where we've not been able to get going and then dominated the second half," acknowledged Sheridan after the game, and the boss needs to find a way of getting his side to play for 90 minutes as opposed to 45. Pre-match rollicking perhaps?
4 Keane to impress... Will Keane would have been disappointed to have been dropped to the bench for the first time since his arrival, but Viv Solomon-Otabor's early injury meant he was on the field inside seven minutes. And the former Manchester United man produced his best performance so far, supporting Joe Garner from the No.10 role and popping up in the final quarter to head the Latics equaliser. Fitness issues have stopped Keane reaching the standard expected of him at the start of his career, but the more games he plays, the more Latics will hopefully benefit from his undoubted quality.
5 Long Good Saturday! Several Latics youngsters have made their mark this term after being thrown into the deep end, and Adam Long added his name to that list against Plymouth. After replacing the injured Darnell Johnson at the break, the Isle of Man product settled in alongside Curtis Tilt superbly, and produced a couple of fantastic blocks in the final quarter to keep Latics on level terms. Along with Chris Merrie, Alex Perry, Ollie Crankshaw and Charlie Jolley, these lads are the future of the football club. Another gold star for Gregor Rioch and his Academy staff.