Wigan Athletic F.C. vs. S.V. Zulte Waregem
Date: Thursday 28th November 2013
Venue: The DW Stadium
Referee: Ruddy Buquet
A very tired looking Wigan Athletic side squandered their chance to make more history by qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League as they were beaten 2-1 by Zulte Waregem.
Their European dream hangs in the balance now as they must beat Maribor and hope that Rubin Kazan don’t lose their unbeaten record against Zulte.
It all started so well for a Wigan side that appeared to be willing to go for it and, in the seventh minute of the game Leon Barnett smashed the ball home to make it 1-0.
A short corner made its way to Callum McManaman who took on two Zulte defenders and skimmed the ball to Jordi Gomez. Gomez scuffed his shot but it fell quite fortunately to Barnett who volleyed from ten yards.
Even before this goal Wigan might have scored once or twice; their whole attitude was different to the one the Latics’ fans viewed on Saturday against Brighton. They pressed Zulte and pushed up the field and, for the first time this season, the wingers were being utilised effectively.
Generally, this season, Wigan have not been very good at breaking on other teams but it seems that Coyle has actually worked on something whilst in training because Nick Powell and James McClean worked together to surprise Zulte and force Sammy Bossut into a smart save after half an hour.
Then suddenly, completely against the run of play, Zulte scored. After a corner for Wigan, James McArthur smashed the ball towards his own goal. Zulte picked up the ball and made their way speedily down the other end of the pitch and the move ended with Thorgan Hazard shooting powerfully straight at Lee Nicholls. Nicholls attempted to catch the ball but the shot was too powerful and it made its way through his hands and into the net.
The remainder of the first half was completely different to the previous 37 minutes as Zulte began to dominate the game and started to create more and more clear cut chances.
The second half was dead and Wigan seemed to have lost the energy that they started the game with. They did not create a decent chance until mid-way through the half when Powell shot from range and worked the ‘keeper.
Zulte dominated although Wigan looked dangerous whenever they made their way up the field.
Just as it looked as though Wigan were going to have to settle with a draw, Junior Malanda ran straight through the defence and scored from just outside the box to disappoint 15,000 Latics’ fans.
This season Wigan have one problem: Owen Coyle. Everybody knows that they have one of the best squads in the whole of the Championship but good players can only get a team so far. There needs to be a tactical plan for these good players to adhere to and this plan is non-existent at Wigan. If you take a moment to watch Coyle on the touchline he does nothing and when he does get out of his chair it is merely to clap his players or ‘gee’ them up. If Wigan are not in the top eight at by 2014 then Dave Whelan needs to be considering what his aims are for the season.