Talking football: A great chance for Latics to crank up the pressure on the automatic promotion places

Wigan Athletic players celebrating against Chesterfield
Wigan Athletic players celebrating against Chesterfield

Wigan Athletic will be hoping to keep their promotion challenge firmly on track this weekend when they face the Railwaymen of Crewe.

On paper, Latics should be looking at a pretty routine three points against a side they’ve already beaten twice this term – at home in the league and on this ground in the JPT.

That cup tie back in September saw a Middlesbrough loanee by the name of Yanic Wildschut score his first goal in Latics shirt – a right-foot thunderbolt from distance following an incisive run through the Alex midfield.

Wildschut is, of course, now a permanent Latics player, and his recent spell as an impact sub underlines the quality in Gary Caldwell’s squad at the moment.

The pool of players Caldwell has at his disposal has to be the envy of the rest of League One.

Saturday’s win over an in-form Chesterfield side was achieved without Will Grigg and Chris McCann, whose returns from injury this weekend should increase Caldwell’s options further.

With just two defeats from the last 20 league games, Latics have shrugged off an inevitable patchy start, caused by the huge turnover in staff over the summer, and are now flexing their muscles when others are showing signs of fatigue.

Latics are now level on points with fourth-placed Coventry, and just four points adrift of the promotion spots – with 19 games still to go.

With the visit of Port Vale to come next weekend, it’s the ideal opportunity for Latics to rack up another six points before tough trips to Sheffield United and Walsall in the space of a fortnight next month – after which the top two could well contain a new entry.

Regular readers will remember last week’s column mentioning Jeff Stelling openly mocking Latics and their fans on Sky’s ‘Soccer Saturday’ show.

“I’ve had a number of tweets from Wigan Athletic fans, telling me they wouldn’t swap their FA Cup win in 2013 for anything,” reported Stelling.

“Their next away game? Crewe.”

Maybe the ‘experts’ on the Sky panel, who also engaged in this epic banter might be interested to learn Latics will take well over 2,000 travelling supporters to the Alexandra Stadium this weekend.

More than double their average away following in their final season as a Premier League outfit in 2012/13.

You see, football does exist outside the Premier League.

Shame Stelling and his pals can’t – or won’t – acknowledge that.

Late drama has been par for the course with Latics this season.

But you had to feel for Everton at the weekend after being absolutely robbed of two points by a 98th-minute leveller by Chelsea.

And ‘robbed’ is an appropriate word, seeing how far offside John Terry was when he applied the finishing touch to make it 3-3.

It’s not the first time Roberto Martinez has left Stamford Bridge choking on a sense of injustice either. Back in 2012, it was Latics on the receiving end – of two offside goals, not to mention Branislav Ivanovic escaping a red card for clobbering Shaun Maloney off the ball.

When an absolute gent like Roberto Martinez is accusing a referee of being ‘diabolical’, you know something seriously wrong has occurred.

It used to be a rare treat to see your side on the box. Not any more.

Wigan Athletic’s Good Friday trip to Swindon will now kick-off at 5.30pm.

The last train back to Wigan leaves 24 minutes into the game.

The first train after the game gets home at 9am on the Saturday morning.

Whoever at Sky is in charge of selecting games for television is clearly not a football supporter.

Charlton Athletic players reimbursed their travelling fans for the 5-0 defeat at Huddersfield last Tuesday night.

Four days later, the hapless Addicks were hammered 6-0 at Hull City.

Judging by the present off-field turmoil at the Valley, the players might be advised to set up a direct debit.

Mark Robins became the latest football manager to lose his job when Scunthorpe United wielded the axe this week.

I won’t pretend to be privy to goings-on at Glanford Park, but I was surprised to hear they’d made the tough decision.

Having watched Latics hammer the Iron at the start of the season, I was surprised and impressed with the way Scunthorpe attacked the corresponding fixture on January 2.

On another day, the home side could easily have won – against a team with the biggest budget in the division. And yet a fortnight later, their manager gets the boot.