Talking football: Wigan Athletic getting closer after crazy campaign

Chey Dunkley in joyous mood at Rochdale in midweek
Chey Dunkley in joyous mood at Rochdale in midweek

What a crazy season it’s been...and there’s still a month of it still to go!

The 4-1 midweek win at Rochdale took Wigan Athletic back to the top of the League One table.

After weeks of playing catch-up with Blackburn and Shrewsbury, who at one point had played FOUR more games, Latics have returned to where they feel is their natural position.

A run of six wins in the last seven matches coming at exactly the right time to crank up the pressure on their promotion rivals.

In previous years, Latics would already have done enough to have secured promotion back to the Championship.

Their tally of 86 points took Bolton up as runners-up in League One behind Sheffield United last term.

It’s only one point shy of the 87 points that took Gary Caldwell’s Latics to the third-tier title two seasons ago.

And Paul Cook’s men still have six games remaining!

It beggars belief it may need as many as five more wins to mathematically get over the line.

But that says everything about how consistent Blackburn and Shrewsbury have been this term in the most keenly-contested promotion race for years.

You’ve just got to feel sorry for whichever team eventually finishes third.

To end the regular season probably 20 points clear of the sixth-placed team, and have to start again from scratch in the play-offs, is going to take some effort– both physically and, even more so, mentally.

Hopefully, that won’t be Latics – and I’ve a good feeling it won’t be.

Given our horrendous play-off record, it had better not be anyway!

Flip the scenario on its head, and let’s have some blue-sky tinking for a moment.

If Shewsbury – licking their wounds after losing in the Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley last weekend – fail to win at Bradford on Thursday night, Latics could even secure promotion as early as next weekend at Fleetwood.

Sure, they’d have to beat Rotherham on Saturday and Oxford next Tuesday – both at the DW Stadium – to keep that prospect alive.

But Shrewsbury have a very tough game next Tuesday against a Charlton side that’s been revilatised under Lee Bowyer, and who’ll need a win to keep alive their own play-off hopes.

A Shrewsbury failure to win, and Latics would travel to Fleetwood – with a party atmosphere already guaranteed...sun out and beer flowing – knowing promotion would be within touching distance.

All that, of course, is best-case scenario.

It could take far longer to get the job done.

But Latics will be feeling more than comfortable about getting to job done no matter how long it takes.

Looking at the six games they have remaining, Latics won all six of the corresponding fixtures...by an aggregate of 22-1.

It’s probably too much to expect a repeat sequence of results.

But the way Latics are playing at the moment, nothing is beyond them...

It’s just over week before over over 100 Wigan Athletic fans – including chairman David Sharpe, chief executive Jonathan Jackson and club legend Emmerson Boyce – will be putting their best foot forward for the Joseph’s Goal ‘Walk to Fleetwood’.

And there’s still time for YOU to sign up and support the Wigan-based charity.

Fans are invited to join in with the full walk or, if they have other commitments, either the Friday or Saturday legs – with Fleetwood fans and VIPs also joining the latter stages to create a real united front from the football family.

The first leg will set off from the Latics’ training ground at Euxton next Friday morning and proceed to walk 20 miles to Blackpool, with a few stops on the way for food and drink.

On Saturday, walkers will be up bright and early to walk the remaining 12 miles, taking in Blackpool Tower, the promenade and Thornton Cleveleys, before arriving at the Highbury Stadium in good time for kick-off.

Fleetwood Town will welcome all walkers on arrival at the stadium, where bags will be able to be dropped off until after the game, when the fabulous people at Eavesway coaches will transport everyone and their belongings back free of charge.

Email walk4joseph@gmail.com for all the details.