Latics guest player column - Reece James

Reece James
Reece James

I’ve been sporting a bit of a battle scar from our win against Chesterfield last weekend – a black eye!

It wasn’t something I was even aware of until I came in at the end, and one or two of the lads were asking what I’d done to my eye.

I think it happened when I tried to take a quick throw-in, and their lad has tried to stop me and caught me with the stud of his boot.

It was purely accidental and something I’ll take every week if it means three points and a goal!

I’ve really needed that goal to get up and running, and thankfully I’ve got one at long last.

I was a little bit unfortunate in the Burton game back in November, when I really should have scored only to hit the post.

But it’s just nice to see one go in and finally get off the mark. I’ve seen Reece Wabara make his run and I’ve tried to get in there on the edge of the box, in some space.

I didn’t realise how much time and space I actually had until I’ve seen it on the replay. When I’ve shouted ‘pull’ and seen the ball coming towards me, there’s only one thought in my mind – and that’s to have a shot.

It’s ended up dipping over the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net. I couldn’t have hit it any better, and I’ll take that all day.

I’ve been in and out of the team over the last four or five weeks, and the gaffer’s had a word with me about being more effective in and around their box, and going at people one-against-one.

As a left-back, that’s never been my natural game, but it’s obviously something I need to bring in given the system we play.

It’s taken a bit of time, but I do feel a bit more comfortable now after working at it on the training ground and also on a match day.

Hopefully Saturday’s shown what I can do when I’m in that position, and I can build on it and take it into the next few games and the rest of the season. I’ve always been used to playing alongside someone out on the left, but I’ve had to get used to being out there on my own this season.

In this system, people are looking at you to be the one to get forward and at their full-back, and it’s something I’m going to try more and more as the season goes on.

It was great to hang on for the three points against Chesterfield – especially after what had happened in the previous game against Sheffield United.

That game was just incredible really.

None of the lads could believe what had happened in the dressing room afterwards, it was silent.

We’re trying so hard to push for that top two, and go up automatically, and it was a real kick to the stomach to drop two points like that.

The main thing was to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible, and thankfully we were able to do that against Chesterfield.

To go 3-0 up again – so soon after losing three goals inside half an hour – was a test for us.

Everyone could have buckled and gone under, but none of us were going to let that happen.

We all stood together, we all believed in ourselves, and the fans helped us get over the line.

It was never really in my mind that we might blow a three-goal lead again.

All I was thinking about was trying to get a fourth and maybe a fifth goal, as well as not conceding.

When they pulled one back with 10 minutes to go, that was probably a point where we realised we had to stay switched on and stop them getting any more encouragement.

Fair play to the lads who came on and helped to get us over the line.

Yanic (Wildschut) worked hard and Tim (Chow) did well in that sitting midfield role.

It means we can travel to Crewe on Saturday with plenty of confidence.

Despite their league position, Crewe is always a difficult place to go and try and get a result.

They showed when we played them here at the DW what a good side they can be, and we were hanging on a bit in our 1-0 win.

This is not an easy game for us, and we’ll have to go there and have a really good go if we want to come away with another three points.

It’s a cliche but there are no easy games any more – every game is tough, especially the ones away from home.

But we’re in a good run of form at the moment and we’re hoping that continues this weekend.

I’d also like to say a massive thanks to the 2,000-plus Wigan fans who’ll be making the trip to Crewe with us this weekend.

Everywhere we’ve travelled this season they’ve been unbelievable for us – even the long ones down to Gillingham in August and Peterborough in October.

It’s massive for us to be able to look over and see who we’re playing for.

They’ve backed us to the maximum, they’ve turned up in their numbers every week, and hopefully we can get another three points for them at Crewe.

Being a former Manchester United player, I always look for their results to see how they’re doing.

And I watched the Liverpool game at home with my brother, Matty, who also started there before moving to Leicester.

It’s a bit difficult watching the games at the moment, because you’re used to United playing such attractive football.

I don’t know what it’s down to, but they’re a little bit off that at the minute.

To be honest, I didn’t think either team played that well, but United-Liverpool is a game where neither team wants to lose.

Maybe it was a case of both teams playing a bit safe and not wanting to make the mistake that loses the game.

It was nice to see Cameron Borthwick-Jackson come on for United in the second half.

He’s a young lad I used to train with at United just before I came to Wigan.

I remember him as being a very honest lad who was always working hard, and he’s making the most of his big chance.

He had one attacking run just after coming on, when he went past James Milner and put his cross in, and fair play to him.

For such a young lad to be playing in such a big game in the Premier League, with such a positive attitude, trying to impose himself on the game, shows the character he is – and all the best to him.

Reece James was speaking to Paul Kendrick