Wigan Athletic: Five things we learned from Bristol City (a)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's 2-2 draw against high-flying Bristol City at Ashton Gate...
1. Same old story! How many times are Latics going to give a fine account of themselves on the road, and come away frustrated with their points return? Just four days after conceding a stoppage-time sickener at Derby - in a game they should have won, never mind drawn - Latics were left licking their wounds after City plundered an equaliser with five minutes left. The game could and should have been already over by then - Gavin Massey failing to convert a two-on-one break on the hour mark - and that's what will annoy Paul Cook more than anything.
2 'Ain't Nobody Like Chey Dunkley!' Cometh the hour, cometh the man, who has suddenly found his shooting boots - and forehead - in style! To be fair, Dunkley won't be happy with his role in City's opening goal, when a hopeful ball back into the Latics box was fatally allowed to bounce. But the big man took ownership of the problem in a big way, equalising within eight minutes with a glorious left-foot volley, before nodding the visitors ahead shortly after the restart with a bullet header. He now has five goals for the season - none of his team-mates have more than one.
3 The stats don't lie! Yes, Latics' wretched away record now reads one win from their last 29 league games. But judging this one in isolation, it was undoubtedly a huge step forwards in the search for a winning formula on the road. More shots on target (7-4), more shots off target (9-2), more corners (10-5)...against a side that could have gone second in the table with a win. As Paul Cook must be sick of repeating after a game, sooner or later the luck has to turn...
4 The Chelsea production line is in fine fettle! Frank Lampard's young guns are making major waves in the Premier League at the moment, with our own Reece James one of several talented youngsters who look sure-fire stars of the future. And whisper it quietly for now, but Dujon Sterling could well be the next taxi in the rank. The right-back has had to bide his time since arriving on a season-long loan in the summer, but was finally thrown in when Nathan Byrne reached the five-booking mark (and a ban). An assured debut at Derby meant Sterling stayed in at Bristol City, and another accomplished display suggests the shirt is now his to lose.
5 Patience is a virtue! Joe Gelhardt is another who is having to bide his time before being allowed to show what he can do. The 17-year-old burst on the scene with a fantastic goal to earn Latics a point at Hull on September 14. Since then, however, he has been seen on the pitch only twice, for late cameos totalling 28 minutes. In a side crying out for creativity and goals - only Middlesbrough (11) have scored fewer than Wigan's tally of 12 - his continued omission is somewhat surprising. Of course it's important not to expose him to too much football at such a young age, and Paul Cook is right to want to protect his young gun as much as possible. But at the same time, sparkling talents like Gelhardt don't grow on trees, and his elevation to the starting XI - or at least far more game-time off the bench - could be the catalyst the team needs to really spark into life.