The Latics succumbed to their 13th home defeat of the season against Wolves on Saturday, the one goal to nil loss to Kenny Jackett’s side was the final game at the DW Stadium for this campaign, but even though we signed off a dreadful nine months on a negative result, there were enough positives from the game, the style of play and the fight in the team to suggest that our venture into League 1 under Gary Caldwell will be nowhere as near as bleak as it would have been under Malky Mackay.
Caldwell lined his side up with one change from the win over Brighton the previous week, Emmerson Boyce coming in for Don Cowie and the Latics started the game with three centre backs, Maguire, Perch and Pearce, as we reverted to a system that had served us well at times in the Premier League.
The Latics were bright and creative throughout the game, possession was high and several chances were carved out, unfortunately we do have a distinct lack of quality in the final third and some good chances went begging.
Jermaine Pennant saw a long range effort tipped over by Thomasz Kuszczak shortly before Wolves scored the winning goal on 25 minutes, a free kick from the left was swung into the Latics six yard box and Benik Afobe, with his only chance of the game, headed home at the back post, 0-1.
The goal came against the run of play and it did rattle the Latics for 10 minutes or so before they got back on their game, James McClean had another long range effort shortly before the break that went the wrong side of the post.
The second half was more of the same as the Latics had the majority of possession and attempts on goal, James McClean had two chances, both at the near post, one a header from four yards, the other a six yard side footer, both went wide. Scott Carson pulled off a great save following a Richard Stearman header from a corner as Wolves had their second at attempt at goal on 65 minutes.
Latics had a legitimate penalty claim when the ball caught Stearman flush on his hands with both arms raised above his head, referee James Linnington waved away the appeals. James Perch had the ball in the net near the end but the assistant referee had his flag raised, Tim Chow had drifted off side in the build up.
Right at the death James McClean and Richard Stearman collided outside the Wolves box, McClean was booked for a late challenge, it was his second of the game so he was sent off and will miss the final game of the season away at Brentford.
Latics played some lovely football, they were patient and probing in their build up play, no senseless lobbing the ball forward, the midfield buzzed, the defence was comfortable, we just lacked the quality to finish off the chances created emphasising the desperate need for a specialist striker, this must be top of Caldwell’s summer shopping list, but the future does look much brighter.
Latics – Carson, Maguire, McClean, Pennant (Mckay 68), Kim, Boyce, Bong, Perch (Capt), Pearce, Kvist (Fortune 56), Chow (Cowie 79)
Subs – Al Habsi, Taylor, McCann, Barnett
Wolves – Kuszczak; Iorfa, Ebanks-Landell, Stearman (c), Golbourne; Edwards, McDonald, Price, Sako (Hause 82); Afobe, Dicko (Doyle 82)
Subs – Flatt, Doherty, Henry, van La Parra, Jacobs