Wigan Athletic: Five things we learned from Rotherham United (a)

Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 1-1 draw at Rotherham United on Friday night...

By Paul Kendrick
Sunday, 20th February 2022, 12:51 pm
Updated Sunday, 20th February 2022, 12:54 pm

1 Top billing! First thing's first, what a game! All the signs were this would be a 'real war of attrition' - football-speak for a thoroughly boring game. With both sides boasting the two best defensive records in the third tier, 0-0 was probably the banker pre-match bet. But Leam Richardson showed his intent by fielding three defenders, two midfielders, two wingers and three centre-forwards...which set the tone for a fantastic game of football. Rotherham, on the back foot from conceding first, then hit Latics with everything, with the result being a brilliant game to watch - and a fantastic advert for League One. Honours ended even, which probably tells you why these two are head and shoulders above the rest after two thirds of the campaign.

2 Returning hero! The return of Curtis Tilt to Rotherham was always going to be one of the intriguing sub-plots of the evening. And the big centre-back responded to the attention with arguably his best performance in a Latics shirt. As well as keeping Rotherham hotshot Michael Smith in his pocket, he also looked to be enjoying the running banter with the home crowd whose efforts to unsettle him served only to bring out the best in their former player.

3 Massive effort! Also excellent on the night was Gavin Massey, once again playing out of position at right-wing-back. It's fair to say Massey has more than his fair share of critics among the Latics fanbase. But Leam Richardson's constant faith in him shows his value to the side. And the versatility of a player who has already helped Latics out of this division in the past will be invaluable in the run-in.

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Leam Richardson

4 Wall of sound! There may only have been 10,000 fans inside the sold-out New York Stadium. But it sounded like five times that figure at times as both sets of supporters got behind their side. The 2,000 travelling army more than matched the hosts' support, and the lay-out of the stadium helped to keep all the sound enclosed. It's easy to say with hindsight, but a similar-sized capacity at the DW - or, ideally, 5,000 more - would be of far more benefit to Latics at the moment, in trying to generate an atmosphere closer to that they get at away matches.

5 Word of caution! If there was a downside for Latics, it was the late yellow card picked up by Callum Lang, which takes him to nine for the campaign. As with most of Lang's previous cautions, it was definitely in the 'unnecessary' category. The whistle had gone for offside when the Latics forward lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper before flicking it further away with his shoulder. With the crowd already on the back of the referee, it was an easy decision for the official to try to pacify the locals. Leam Richardson admitted after the game it was something he'd be speaking to Lang about, because the last thing Latics need in the hectic run-in is their all-action star sat on the sidelines watching on.

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