Wigan Athletic: Five things we learned from Preston North End (h)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 0-0 draw against Preston North End at the weekend...
1 It's good to be back! Exactly three months after lifting the League One title at Shrewsbury, Wigan Athletic were back in business against their closest rivals in the Championship, Preston. The Deepdale outfit are probably the blueprint of what Latics want to become over the next couple of years, having established themselves into a solid, second-tier outfit, with half an eye on the play-off picture, with no real fear of being dragged into trouble at the bottom. And with the exact same squad of players as last term - the only new signing, Ryan Nyambe, is still not match fit - Latics gave a good account of themselves at the DW. As far as opening days go, it was definitely a glass half-full afternoon. Partly because of…
2 Big Ben! It's fair to say Ben Amos didn't have a great deal to do last season as Latics swept most before them. And while he's expected to be a lot busier this term, Amos again wasn't particularly overstretched as Latics remained on the front foot for large parts. But he proved his worth just before half-time, when an uncharacteristic slip from Jack Whatmough saw Troy Parrott race clean through on goal. If the first save from Amos was superb, the follow-up - to deny Emil Riis - was jaw-dropping. The PNE forwards couldn't believe they hadn't scored. It was as good as a winning goal at the other end. Speaking of which...
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3 Thankless task! To suggest Josh Magennis fed off scraps would be a huge understatement, with the Latics frontman getting little joy out of a robust backline. James McClean did his best to get up in support, while Will Keane showed a few lovely touches and Callum Lang put in his typical blood-to-water shift. But Latics couldn't quite get going in the final third, with the half chances they created either coming from set-pieces or long shots.
4 I'm (hopefully) all right, Jack! Leam Richardson will be keeping fingers, toes and everything else crossed the injury which caused the first-half substitution of centre-back Jack Whatmough isn't serious. The ex-Portsmouth man was a colossus last term, playing all but half an hour of the 46-game league campaign. Latics are already operating - for the time being at least - a centre-back short, with Kell Watts not having been replaced as yet. The loss of Whatmough for any length of time would not only place extra pressure on Curtis Tilt and Jason Kerr, but it would also appear to close the door on any possible switch to a back five, as Richardson did on several occasions last term.
5 Loud and proud! It would be remiss not to make mention of the atmosphere inside the DW, which was absolutely rocking from start to finish. With Preston packing out the North Stand, the Latics fans - especially in the East Stand - more than responded, and a crowd of almost 16,000 created a real cauldron of noise. The away end will be heaving more often than not this term, and hopefully as many of the non season-ticket holders attracted by a local derby will have been persuaded to come along again.