By Fan of the Year Jon Harries
Two away games against 24th and 23rd in the league with no points and arguably our two most lacklustre performances of the season. The Dons travelled to Shrewsbury hoping to bounce back from defeat to Doncaster a fortnight ago. Two changes were made Kasumu and Eisa in for Robson (injury) and Watters.
The Dons started brightly forcing early corners and keeping the ball nicely without worrying Marosi too much in the Salop goal. The best chance of the half falling to Eisa who was played through by Parrott before firing straight at the goalkeeper. Shrewsbury were happy to sit back and defend but the final pass was lacking at times with overhit balls and wayward passes without hardly getting the influential Twine involved. ……Half time and goalless.
Shrewsbury made a change at the break. The anonymous Sam Cosgrove was replaced by Ryan Bowman as Salop looked to get at our defence more. The home side started the brighter with Dan Udoh utilising his strength and pace unsettling the backline and indeed it was exactly that which created the match winning moment. Udoh skipping past our midfield with consummate ease, laying the ball off to Shaun Whalley. Ryan Bowman was in a better position in the box but take nothing away from Whalley who engineered space and rifled a shot into the top right-hand corner of the net. After that Eisa had our two best chances firing narrowly wide and looping a header into the keeper’s hands. Kioso also headed over when well placed.
Ultimately though the second defeat in a row came, although we still occupy the last play-off spot thanks to Opponent snatching a point in the last minute of the game. Credit must go to Shrewsbury for their defensive display and closing down of our game, though Manning will be frustrated at the lack of a killer instinct.
Tuesday night sees another away trip, this time up to Lancashire to face high flying Wigan Athletic. This time last year they were struggling at the wrong end of League 1 having suffered relegation from the Championship after a points deduction. Now under new ownership much is expected from them after a busy summer of recruitment and thus far they are meeting those expectations sitting 3rd with a game in hand over Wycombe and two over surprise leaders Plymouth Argyle.
On Saturday they dispatched Bolton 4-0 away from home in a hostile local Derby. Will Keane got the ball rolling early on to quieten the home side followed by a James McClean double and Callum Lang late on. No complaints from the hosts with comments like they wanted it more and no fight in the side, but the Latics are dispatching teams like a good promotion candidate should.
Looking at their squad, Jack Whatmough has found a new lease of life at the DW Stadium, Max Power at RB is unusual but effective and Tom Naylor dictates the play from midfield. Up front the Lang and Keane are supported by Wyke and Humphries on a rotation basis each bringing a different dimension to the side, and when you have players like Jordan Jones, Jordan Cousins, and Gwion Edwards in reserve the sky really is the limit.
The man in focus is James McClean. Without a club in the summer, he was invited to train with Wigan in the off season and got offered a contract after impressing Leam Richardson. Off the pitch he is quite divisive with his beliefs but take nothing away from his on the pitch abilities. Direct, pacy and with the guile and intelligence he possesses he will be a handful if he starts for either Watson or Kioso. He also has a great set piece delivery on him and can wind up opposition fans and players alike quite easily, 3 goals and 2 assists in 8 games is impressive.
Predicted Line Up
Kioso – O’Hora – Darling – Lewington – Harvie
McEachran – Kasumu – Twine
Parrott – Eisa
I’m predicting a 1-1 draw being optimistic. Wigan will not defend deep like last weekend’s opponents and will take the game to us. I expect end to end action with Twine possibly afforded more space to work his magic, Eisa with the goal.
I feel McEachran could be key with his simple incisive balls that could cause problems. Defensively we will have to be switched on but the previous results against Wycombe, Portsmouth, and Ipswich fuel my optimistic chances of a result.