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Club News

Focus On: Wigan Athletic

By Gerry Prewett

15 September 2017

After two disappointing home games, albeit beating a useful looking Walsall team when down to 10 men in the first game, Bristol Rovers hit the road as they take the long trip up the M5/M6 to Wigan.

Currently in 6th place on the league ladder, the Latics have bounced back from the disappointment of their relegation last season and with four wins, a draw and just one defeat from their six games, Manager Paul Cook must be reasonably satisfied with where his team are currently. After their only defeat, last Saturday at Shrewsbury, he was in a reflective mood.

After their only defeat, last Saturday at Shrewsbury, he was in a reflective mood.

“Shrewsbury are the early pace-setters. They’re playing some great stuff. They have one of the best young managers in the Football League.” That admiration for the opposition was tempered with a warning to his team with what they should expect for the remainder of the season.

“People will look for excuses, but I won’t. It’s the first real disappointment we’ve had in the league. On Saturday, the game huffed and puffed without any real quality in it. We were all a bit disappointed after the Portsmouth game last month, especially with the sending off which we thought probably cost us the chance to win the game.”

“But I would constitute Saturday’s game as being typical of what we’re going to face this season. Teams will want to frustrate us, get men behind the ball and play on the counter-attack. We’ve got to be better than that and be able to compensate for that.”

On Tuesday night Cook’s team showed exactly the attitude he was looking for as they returned from the Valley with a convincing 3-0 victory over Charlton.

The away team almost took the lead on 18 seconds when Michael Jacobs cross reached Gavin Massey whose header went just wide. Minutes later and Nick Powell had a similar chance when he got on the end of Nathan Byrne’s cross but that also missed the target.

As half-time approached the Latics created a well-worked goal, Reece James picking out Massey who tapped into an empty goal after Grigg had drawn in the goalkeeper. Latics had four corners inside the opening two minutes of the second-half as they piled on the pressure. It was Massey who increased the away team’s lead with 20 minutes to go with a thunderous shot from inside the box. With 3 minutes of normal time remaining Sam Morsy’s shot into the bottom corner secured an impressive away win.

Latics had four corners inside the opening two minutes of the second-half as they piled on the pressure. It was Massey who increased the away team’s lead with 20 minutes to go with a thunderous shot from inside the box. With 3 minutes of normal time remaining Sam Morsy’s shot into the bottom corner secured an impressive away win.

It is over sixteen years since the teams last crossed paths with Wigan enjoying the Premiership experience whilst Rovers struggled. Ironically in the 2000-01 season, the last time this fixture took place, both games finished 0-0. Overall, the home team seems to come out well. Rovers first ever meetings with Wigan were results to be savoured. On 16 October 1982 goals by Graham Withey (2), Paul Randall and Geraint Williams secured an impressive 4-0 victory.

Ironically in the 2000-01 season, the last time this fixture took place, both games finished 0-0. Overall, the home team seems to come out well. Rovers first ever meetings with Wigan were results to be savoured. On 16 October 1982 goals by Graham Withey (2), Paul Randall and Geraint Williams secured an impressive 4-0 victory.

However, things got better with our first visit to Springfield Park, Paul Randall (2), Graham Withey (2) and Nicky Platnauer eared Rovers a 5-0 win. The following season saw Rovers secure a hard fought 0-0 draw and that was the end of the points from trips to Wigan until a 2-1 win in 1989-90 season (does a 2-1 victory have a familiar ring to it during that season?).

Between 1984 and 1997 Rovers played at Wigan 5 times and lost the lot! Three of those defeats were by a single goal but there was also a 4-0 thrashing. On 2 December 1997, a seemingly innocuous Second Division fixture will have gone down in the annals of this club. The 3-0 defeat in itself wasn’t remarkable, the four red cards shown by Mr Lynch to Rovers players though was quite incredible.

Mr Lynch seemed unaware of the icy pitch as he handed out cards as though performing a Christmas postal delivery. It was noted on that night that a quick thinking Peter Beadle realised that if Rovers had another player sent off, the game would have been abandoned and he did his best to join his other colleagues for ‘an early bath’ but for once Mr Lynch kept his card in his pocket. Oh yes, a Wigan player was sent off too!

Two goal hero Gavin Massey, who was signed from Leyton Orient in the summer is determined to make the most of his opportunity after jumping two divisions. “Obviously all the new players have come in from different levels but, speaking for myself, this is a step up for me, coming to a big club.”

“I know I need to take this chance with both hands and, with the guidance from the gaffer and the squad, I can only get better as a player. The last few years at Leyton Orient I feel I’ve contributed a lot of goals and assists, and obviously, that’s what I’ve come here to do.”

“To get off the mark like this is fantastic, but I’m not going to dwell on that. It’s time to kick on now. We were disappointed with ourselves at Shrewsbury. We didn’t feel we gave a good account of ourselves, and it was good to bounce back. “That’s what good teams do, bounce back when they have to and it was important we did that.”

“I’m one of those who likes to look at the league table and to see us drop down after the weekend hurt massively. Whatever stage of the season it is, you want to be up there, fighting, and showing how good a side you are.”


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