Latics v Crewe Alexandra
Paul Dickov urged everybody connected with Latics to keep the faith following the home npower League One defeat by Crewe Alexandra.
Latics’ manager insists not a lot is wrong despite his side suffering its fourth successive league loss complaining lady luck is not on their side.
Second-half goals from Mathias Pogba and Mark Ellis inflicted a fourth successive league loss on Latics whose only cheer was a first goal for the club from teenage striker Daniel Taylor.
Dickov said: "We have had two home games over Christmas, played ever so well, created a lot of chances and yet again come away with nothing.
"It was another sickener, but we have a big game on New Year’s Day and have to pick ourselves up and try and win.
"We worked ever so hard, played some really good stuff, changed things round, got back into it. Then to conceded virtually the minute afterwards was really poor."
Dickov pointed out that Latics had 19 attempts at goal saying, as much as they talk about defending, they must take their chances.
He said: "We created more than enough chances to win the game, but little things are going with us at the moment, but we have to stay positive. And if we do, we will soon get positive results.
"Anybody who saw the performance levels against Doncaster and Crewe will see we are not far away.
"We have definitely deserved something from the last two games and with a bit of luck we have done so. Hopefully we will get that on New Year’s Day."
"As much as the players, the fans and everybody is down, we must roll up our sleeves, got on our tin hats and go to Scunthorpe and try to win the game."
Latics had one enforced change from Boxing Day as Jean-Yves M’voto was ruled out through suspension.
Connor Brown was called into the side as Reece Wabara switched to the centre of defence alongside Cliff Byrne.
Latics were lucky not to find themselves 2-0 down inside four minutes as Crewe made a lively start – Ellis and Pogba, brother of the former Manchester United player Paul, both headed wide when they ought to have found the target.
They eventually inched their way into the match and start to threaten the visiting goal, notably when Jose Baxter tried an audacious shot from just inside the Crewe half after spotting keeper Steve Phillips off his line.
Matt Smith had three chances – one glorious – in the final 15 minutes of the opening half to put Latics ahead.
Baxter and Dean Furman carved open the Crewe defence and the latter squared the ball for Smith to shoot wide of an open goal from six yards as he sank to his knees in disbelief. The two other efforts were decent headers which drifted just wide.
Smith had a fourth chance of the match soon after the restart as he ran on to Baxter’s headed flick only to shoot over the bar from just inside the box.
Baxter forced Phillips into a diving save low to his left to turn his long-range shot round the post for a corner.
It looked only a matter of time before there would be a goal – though it was Crewe who broke the deadlock just after the hour mark when Pogba’s 25-yard shot took a wicked deflection off Cliff Byrne and beyond the despairing dive of keeper Dean Bouzanis.
Latics soon introduced Cristian Montano and Taylor for Youssouf M’Changama and Connor Brown going three at the back.
They continued to carve out decent chances, but luck deserted themselves in front of goal.
Smith head the ball in the net in the 68th minute only for his header to be ruled out for a shove, though Dickov, who later viewed it on DVD, insisted it was a perfectly good goal.
Taylor and Smith had further headers, but neither was able to find the target.
Latics eventually found a route to goal in the 81st minute when Taylor struck to hand his team a lifeline.
Ellis completely miskicked an attempted clearance to leave Taylor (pictured scoring) through on goal on the right of the box and he scored with a terrific finish low into the far corner.
The joy was short-lived as Crewe regained the lead within three minutes. Substitute Byron Moore whipped a looping cross to the far post and Ellis headed into the roof of the net from a couple of yards.
Despite applying considerable pressure late on, Crewe repelled everything thrown at them by Latics whose only clear-cut chance came in the 96th minute when Montano lashed a shot narrowly wide.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Brown (Taylor 66), Wabara, Byrne, Grounds; Croft (Millar 79), Furman, Wesolowski, M’Changama (Montano 62); Smith, Baxter. Subs (not used): Jacob, Hughes, Winchester, Mellor.
Crewe (3-5-2): Phillips; Davis, Dugdale, Ellis; Mellor, Murphy, Osman, Inman (Moore 75), Tootle; Pogba (Robertson 90+5), Dalla-Valle (Leitch-Smith 62). Subs (not used): Garrett, Clayton, Ray, Aneke.
The goals: Taylor (81) for Latics. Pogba (61), Ellis (84) for Crewe.
Booking: Dugdale (87) for Crewe.
Referee: Mr T Harrington.
Attendance: 3,451 (550 visitors)