Wigan taking positives out of Barnsley draw in battle to beat drop
Wigan assistant manager Leam Richardson is confident the Latics remain well placed to avoid the drop, even after a goalless draw with Barnsley effectively left them bottom of the Championship.
Barnsley have that position on paper, three points behind 21st placed Stoke, but Wigan are facing a 12-point penalty for entering administration and, with that applied, they would drop one place and and one point behind the Tykes.
Even so, they entered this match having won four out of five, and Richardson said it was a point gained, particularly after the second-half dismissal of Danny Fox.
“Any points in this league, certainly away from home, are gold,” Richardson said. “In the current situation it’s another positive, another clean sheet and a solid performance, we’re moving forward in the direction that we want.
“From the turn of the year the lads have been the form team in the whole league. The manager has been working tirelessly from turn of the year.
“There’s solid performances individually and collectively, so is it deflating? Far from it. We’re realistic with the situation other people are facing. We’re professional football people. We’re trying our best on the football pitch.”
Barnsley perhaps edged the game on the balance of play, but Wigan posed a constant threat on the counter-attack and actually had the better chances after Fox’s dismissal.
“I thought they reacted well,” Richardson said. “The manager is not one to take a backward step whether we’re down to 10 men or 1-0 down, he wants to win games, to take them by the scruff of the neck.
“It was more of the same in terms of appetite and application. It’s not the first time we’ve been down to 10, but they know their jobs whether we’ve got 11 or 10 and to a man they stood up to try to win the game.”
Wigan host fellow strugglers Hull on Tuesday before another relegation clash against Charlton next weekend, while Barnsley’s fixture list could not look much harder as they close the season out against title challengers Leeds and fellow promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest and Brentford.
Gerhard Struber saw plenty of positives in Saturday’s performance, but knows his side will need to cause shocks to avoid the drop.
“We have big teams to face but we have also picked up points when we play against the big teams,” said Struber, whose side have beaten Fulham home and away this season and taken points off the likes of West Brom and Derby.
“Whether we are playing someone similar like today, or against someone higher in the table, we can find chances against Leeds, Forest and Brentford. I am 100 per cent convinced about that, but I hope a little luck comes back.”
Creating chances is not Barnsley’s primary problem, with Struber admitting his forwards are short of confidence at a critical time.
“We cannot use our best chances,” he said. “We do not have the right balance to score goals and this is our issue at the moment. My strikers are not sharp enough to score goals.”