MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 0 Wigan 4

Ash Hunter in actio
Ash Hunter in actio
Share this article

As Wigan Athletic celebrated promotion at Highbury, one man watching on from the stands must have been thinking, ‘What can I do with this bunch to get that reward?’

Champagne showers were enjoyed by all at Wigan but that elevation to the Championship is now the task Andy Pilley wants Joey Barton to orchestrate.
Though it seemed that the news of Barton’s imminent arrival saw Town pay the price on the pitch.
Too many had their flip-flops on and many, perhaps, were not aware that the man who will take charge in June was up in the stands.
What will he need to do to get Town to the top and heady heights of this Wigan team?
Strengthen.
There is no shying away from the fact that Fleetwood need to do some shopping this summer if they want to have a promotion party next term.
Shrewsbury Town have shown this season that all you need is a bit of organisation, belief and grit to succeed.
This Fleetwood crop is a talented bunch with a spine of Alex Cairns, Cian Bolger and Kyle Dempsey as well as Ash Hunter and Conor McAleny to add into the mix.
Two roles which do require some addressing, however, are the full-back areas with loanee Lewie Coyle heading back to Leeds United and a replacement yet to be found for Amari’i Bell.
The left-back berth proved once again to be Town’s undoing for the first goal and, as we have seen with this Wigan team all season, if they score first then you are done for.
Though you can’t blame Gethin Jones as he was down injured in the middle of his half when Hunter should have either cleared the ball out of play to allow for treatment or play a simple pass.
Instead, he lost the ball and Nathan Byrne teed up Max Power for the opening goal.
From then on there was only one winner as Paul Cook’s men saw promotion waiting.
Yet it could have been a different story because it was far from one-way traffic before that 32nd-minute opener.
You could even argue it came against the run of play with Hunter the pantomime villain for the hefty Wigan following.
The Latics fans were not happy with how Hunter reacted to a Byrne challenge, dusting himself down quickly after writhing around in pain.
But their boos just spurred him on to a purple patch of which Town should have taken advantage.
The visitors had started strongly with Cairns having to tip away Gary Roberts’ effort.
Hunter, nevertheless, was determined after that tangle with Byrne and smelled blood with the Wigan man on a yellow.
But he could not get the breakthrough as he saw a strike deflected wide and then blasted over.
Bobby Grant also got in on the act himself but nobody was there to mop up after keeper Christian Walton batted away his effort.
Wes Burns, fresh from a goal at Blackpool, was sent through but he’d crept offside and the chance was gone.
Chances like those cannot be wasted and Hunter’s naivety saw Town pay the price.
A second soon followed as Wigan turned the screw with Gavin Massey pirouetting away from Ashley Eastham and blasting home.
The floodgates looked to be coming open as Roberts’ deflected free-kick wrongfooted Cairns but looped over.
Fleetwood did spark back into the game in the dying embers of the half with Burns just curling wide.
They kept that hunt for a goal going in the second half but, as soon as the third went in for Wigan, it was game over and Town were on the beach.
They had put up a fight before Dan Burn coolly slotted home from Ryan Colclough’s cross.
Once he beat Cairns, the body language among the home players indicated they knew defeat was on its way.
The Wigan fans knew it too, good naturedly trolling Power when he had blasted wide rather than rippling the back of the net.
It was tongue in cheek but also a nod to the fact they were cruising to promotion as news of Shrewsbury’s draw with Bury began to creep through and see the away fans have a party in the sun.
Chey Dunkley put the game to bed but Town did fight to keep the score at four, especially with former Town striker Devante Cole coming off the bench.
He arrived on the pitch to boos from the Highbury home faithful, understandably so given the latter stages of his time at Town.
His return did not feature a goal, though Bolger made a fine clearance on the line to stop him from netting his first for Wigan.
At the other end, Fleetwood went closer in the dying stages as Dempsey and McAleny saw efforts blocked or travel wide of the target.
As interim manager John Sheridan (pictured) saw Town lose at home under his rule for the first time, there was a feeling that – perhaps – had news of Barton’s arrival not leaked out, then the Wigan party champagne could have been put on ice.
Sheridan’s exit and Town’s League One safety might make some think the squad doesn’t have anything to play for.
On the contrary; players should take note that someone will be in the stands, watching and assessing them with only two matches of the season remaining.
It might not be Sheridan calling the shots next term but Barton can make his mind up on some attitudes in these closing games – and it’s unlikely he’ll have any time for players mentally on holiday at this stage of the season.


Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Bolger, Jones, Burns (Biggins, 61), Diagouraga, Dempsey, Grant (Madden, 61), Hunter (McAleny, 76), Hiwula. Subs not used: Neal, Pond, Glendon, Sowerby.

Wigan: Walton, Byrne, Elder, Morsy, Power, Grigg (Cole, 68), Massey, Roberts, Dunkley, Colclough (Walker, 68 ), Burn. Subs not used: Jones, Perkins,Vaughan, Bruce, Jacobs.