Wigan Athletic boss sets DW challenge
Wigan Athletic have been challenged to turn their home ground into ‘Fortress DW’ the the run-in that will decide their fate.
Tuesday night’s visit of Sunderland is the first of six fixtures that will make or break the campaign – FOUR of which are on the familiar turf of Robin Park.
Under normal circumstances, that would be a massive advantage, with Latics having enjoyed a fine record in recent years at the DW.
However, this term it’s been a different story, with only Rochdale having picked up fewer points on their own patch.
Nevertheless, Leam Richardson wants Latics to exorcise the demons of the last eight months – with every point crucial to their survival hopes – and put down a marker to stay in the division.
“The DW Stadium’s been good for us in the last few years,” he acknowledged.
“And we’re hoping we can recapture as much of that form for the run-in.
“With four of the last six at home, the onus is on us to make sure our performance levels are as high as we know they can be.
“Our task hasn’t changed. We’ve won on Saturday, but we’ve got six games left, and we’ve still got to pick up more points than most of the teams around us.
“We’re in our own mini league, it’s something we speak of all the time, and it’s all focused on Sunderland now on Tuesday.”
Richardson’s men won the corresponding fixture at the Stadium of Light back in December, thanks to Kyle Joseph’s solitary strike.
That was Lee Johnson’s first game in charge of the Black Cats, who have powered up the table since then to seriously challenge long-time top two Hull and Peterborough.
“I don’t think we have to tell anyone about the challenge Sunderland will present,” recognised Richardson.
“They’re an absolutely huge, huge football club at this level.
“They’ve got themselves an excellent manager in Lee, and you’d expect them to give us a really tough game.
“We want it to be so, we wouldn’t expect anything else, and it’s up to us to try and raise our game even higher than at the weekend.
“Because we’ll have to do that to get a result against Sunderland, they’ve that many quality players.”
That said, Latics will be desperate to get out there and build on their thumping win at Doncaster at the weekend.
“After a result like Saturday, obviously the lads are desperate to get back out there and build on it,” Richardson added.
“We’ll have a little head count before the game, we know we’re still working with very low numbers, but we’ll have a team out that’ll be fighting for this football club.”