Midfield star admits Wigan Athletic must arrest their alarming dip in levels

Matt Smith says Wigan Athletic desperately need to work out how to translate their form against the top teams in League One against those at the bottom - to avoid their campaign petering out.
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Latics suffered a disappointing long Easter weekend against sides fighting against relegation, being held 1-1 at home by fifth-bottom Burton on Good Friday before being well beaten 3-1 at sixth-bottom Cambridge on Monday.

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Those results followed a 1-0 victory over play-off chasing Blackpool that all-but secured Latics' survival with a month to spare.

Matt Smith admits Latics have to raise their game against the teams at the bottom of the tableMatt Smith admits Latics have to raise their game against the teams at the bottom of the table
Matt Smith admits Latics have to raise their game against the teams at the bottom of the table
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But ahead of Saturday's visit of fourth-bottom Port Vale, Smith has called on the real Latics to stand up in front of their home supporters.

"We've won a lot of big games this year, and played well against the top teams," he said. "It just seems to be the teams that are in and around us, and towards the bottom of the table, that we've struggled against.

"We'll definitely be looking to put that right on Saturday.

"We’ve got a young team, and a lot of young players who are in their first seasons in professional football. I feel like as a team, we’ll get better and improve, but it is frustrating."

Smith was surprisingly dropped to the bench at Cambridge, but showed his quality when - after appearing nine minutes into the second period - he laid on the goal for Martial Godo, which pulled it back to 2-1, before Cambridge added a third late on.

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“We knew it was going to be a difficult game because they are fighting for their lives," added the former Arsenal man, who conceded the free-kick that led to Cambridge’s third goal. “But we are disappointed as a group of players.

"We controlled the game in large parts, but we feel like we could’ve defended the box better.

“It’s a difficult one to take. This is where we have to improve, and we have to find a way to get over the line in these games.

“It’s about the key moments, and it didn’t go our way.

"We’ll dust ourselves down, get back on the training pitch, and go again on Saturday."

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