In April 2015 Wigan Athletic sacked Malky Mackay following a 2-0 home defeat to Derby County. Jeers rang round the DW Stadium at full time from the few remaining home fans. Relegation to League One was almost inevitable and the walls were caving in. It was another nail in Wigan’s coffin.
Gary Caldwell was announced as the club’s new manager shortly after. Chairman David Sharpe announced the 33-year-old as “an appointment for the long term”.
Now unbeaten in their last 12 matches, the Latics are marching towards the summit of League One – on the verge of promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt. Skeptics were aplenty during the opening stages of the season, however these doubters have been well and truly silenced in recent months.
Two goals from Will Grigg and an excellent finish by Ryan Colclough put the home side 3-0 up after 20 minutes in what was a hugely dominant performance by Wigan, their best of the season so far.
Caldwell’s side began to relax following this, however this was to no aid of a Bury team that continued to be trapped in their own half.
Several more good opportunities followed for Wigan, the best of which falling to the excellent Chris McCann who’s afternoon would have been complete had he reacted better to a ball in from the right – the Irishman’s instinctive half-attempt falling into the hands of the Bury goalkeeper.
A couple of more good chances followed for Grigg before Ian Lawlor in the visitors’ goal prevented Power curling in a free kick.
Jussi Jaaskelainen was largely a spectator, though a superb double save towards the end of the first period brought about a standing ovation from the east, south and west stands. The Bury supporters in the north stand continued to suffer in silence.
At the fourth meeting between the two sides all competitions this season, The Shakers would taste defeat against Latics.
It was clear the players wearing a tree and crown on their shirt were a much improved side since the last encounter against Bury in November – a 4-0 win in the FA Cup for David Flitcroft’s men.
Latics made two changes from their last outing, Wildschut and Reece Wabara coming in for Conor McAleny and the injured Donovan Daniels.
Wildchut didn’t take long to make an impact. The Dutchman powered down the left side and crossed to find Grigg who had the simple task of heading into the visitors goal from close range.
The decision to keep Colclough in the starting line-up paid off as the January signing struck from 20 yards to double Wigan’s lead.
Grigg bagged his second and wrapped up the scoring with a neatly dispatched penalty after the former MK Dons man was taken down in the area.
In truth a large portion of the second half was a non-event. Both sides happy to accept a 3-0 scoreline, though both Will Grigg and Max Power will feel they should have added to Bury’s misery.
Wigan Chairman David Sharpe announced earlier this week that the club would provide free coach travel when the Latics head to Wiltshire on Good Friday to play Swindon Town. Supporters have reacted in their numbers once more. An average of around 2,000 travelled to the Latics’ previous three away trips – Walsall, Sheffield United and Crewe Alexandra.
Even the FA’s threat of disciplinary action due to a pitch invasion from the Wigan fans at Walsall could not dampen spirits this week.
Bury on the other hand have little to play for until the end of the season. The Shakers came from 2-0 down to put five past 10-man Colchester last weekend. This sort of goalscoring prowess was rarely seen by Flitcroft’s men.
Andrew Tutte scored his first three goals against Colchester seven days ago after 14 appearances without a goal this season. After today’s performance, it’s clear why the 25-year-old has failed to make his mark following promotion from League Two with Bury last May.
Milwall are next up for Wigan, a journey to the capital the Latics have struggled with in recent times. The Lions are also unbeaten in their last five against Wigan, however Millwall’s poor home form combined with today’s fantastic performance at the DW will give the visitors all the confidence they desire.
The football played, especially in the first half, was a joy to watch. It was a shame that only 9,490 were lucky enough to see this one.
Up the football league we go…
Wigan: Jaaskelainen 8; Wabara 6, Pearce 7, Morgan 6, McCann 8; Perkins 6, Morsy 8, Power 8; Colclough 7 (Vuckic 5 [78 mins]), Grigg 8 (Davies 6 [66 mins]), Wildschut 8 (McAleny 6 [66 mins])
Subs not used: Nicholls, Flores, Chow, Barnett