Wigan Athletic: Five things we learned from Sheffield Wednesday (h)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at the DW...
1 At long, long last! It was inevitable heading into the last minute there would be late drama, based on what we've witnessed with Latics this season. But this time the emotion was ecstasy, not agony, and the feeling of euphoria (and relief!) around the stadium in the aftermath was palpable. It really felt like a turning point, a line in the sand, with the club finally get that monkey off its back. Time will tell, but it feels like a new beginning...with more than a third of the campaign still to go. This lot never do things the easy way.
2 From Lowe to high! It's fair to say a few fair inside the DW Stadium were less than impressed with Jamal Lowe's contribution up to the 90th minute. Paul Cook even alluded (unprompted) to some of the negative feedback from the stands in his post-match press conference. But the manager's unwavering support in his summer signing from Portsmouth was vindicated in dramatic fashion. And let's hope he can grow in confidence and belief, and show why Cook was so desperate to reunite with him.
3 Leading from the front! Paul Cook also made mention post-game of the 'defining moment of the season'...with Latics 1-0 down at half-time. "You can either lie down and wilt away, or you can stand up and fight," he said. The answer was emphatically the latter as, led by skipper Sam Morsy, Latics showed they have the stomach for the dogfight that lies ahead. The Egyptian has also found himself questioned by a few in the stands in recent weeks, but the way he dug deep - and inspired those around him - underlined why he's the first name on Cook's team sheet.
4 He who dares! One of the most significant moments of the night happened an hour before kick, when the name of 17-year-old Young England star Joe Gelhardt appeared in the starting XI for the first time. The fans have long been clamouring for him to feature more prominently, and his inclusion set the tone for the evening, encouraging positivity rather than negativity, hope rather than despair. Ironically, Gelhardt's withdrawal at the three-quarter mark threatened to destabilise the mood, with many venting their anger towards the management at seeing his number held up. Fortunately for Cook, all three of his substitutes made a difference - and Gelhardt will be much the better, and stronger, for his long-awaited bow.
5 It never rains! Latics being Latics, there's always a downside, and that came with the sight of Kieran Dowell leaving the field on a stretcher in the second half. The on-loan Everton midfielder - the only January arrival so far - has shown glimpses of his ability to unlock the door of a defence, which Latics have been badly in need of this season. With only a couple of days before the transfer deadline, let's hope his injury isn't as serious as it looked - for player as well as club.