Latics v Doncaster Rovers
Latics’ fans can have sweet dreams tonight as they await tomorrow afternoon’s draw for the third round of the FA Cup with Budweiser.
They recovered from a nightmare start to their second-round tie against Doncaster Rovers to record a resounding 3-1 victory which keeps alive the possibility of landing one of the Premier League big guns.
It was not so much the victory, but the quality of the performance for the last 70 minutes which stood out as Latics outplayed the team which is joint top of npower League One.
Robbie Blake’s early goal for Doncaster was cancelled out by Reece Wabara’s header in first half stoppage time. Matt Derbyshire then took centre stage in the second period scoring twice in the space of seven minutes to seal victory which could even have been more emphatic given Lee Croft and Cristian Montano both hit the crossbar.
It was a performance and result which delighted Latics’ manager Paul Dickov who said: "First and foremost we are in the draw for the third round but the way we did it, especially in the second half, was pleasing.
"Our passing and attacking playing at times was fantastic as you saw for our third goal. That showed what a good performance it was, and in the second half I thought the boys were magnificent.
"We have a lot of good players here. We just need to get it out of them on a consistent basis and not wait until they are under pressure to produce a performance like that.
"The main reason why we won was because of the energy we showed in the last third as we got bodies into the box."
Dickov admitted the early goal Latics conceded knocked the stuffing out of his side for 15 minutes until they regained their composure and imposed their authority on the game.
"When we play with that pace, enthusiasm and pass the ball like we did today, we are a very good team as we showed against one of the form teams in the division,"he continued.
Latics had two enforced changes from midweek when they lost 1-0 at Doncaster as Dean Bouzanis and Cliff Byrne were ruled out through suspension.
Alex Cisak returned in goal while Montano was restored to the left flank. And in a rejigged back four, Wabara switched to centre back, Jonathan Grounds reverted to left back while Connor Brown swopped side to right back.
Doncaster took the lead in the fourth minute following an unfortunate slip by Wabara let in David Syers on the right and he cut the ball back for Blake to fire Doncaster ahead.
"Reece slipped, which you cannot legislate for, and you think here we go again and it’s just our luck," Dickov reflected.
Latics were certainly wobbling in those early stages and only a terrific save from Cisak to turn over a Syers shot prevented the visitors from establish a 2-0 advantage.
And Dickov’s fears were compounded when his side was twice denied by the crossbar as Lee Croft and Montano struck the frame of the goal. Montano had earlier been released by an exquisite pass from Jose Baxter only to see his lob land on the roof of the net.
But in first half stoppage time, Wabara came up with a timely equaliser, his first goal for the club, as he headed home Baxter’s free kick from six yards.
Latics went off at the break with the momentum in their favour and they continued where they left off in the second period.
They carved out a series of chances after the restart with home keeper Gary Woods saving well from Croft while Baxter and Derbyshire also had openings.
Latics’ patience and perseverance paid off as they took the lead for the first time in the 70th minute after a neat passing move which ended with Dean Furman’s shot being parried by Woods as Derbyshire slotted home the rebound from close range.
It ended a run of nine games without a goal and it was rather like waiting for an eternity and then two buses arriving simultaneously as he struck again seven minutes later.
This time the passing move was slick as Latics carved a way through the Doncaster defence with Furman, having an excellent game, squaring the ball from the left for Derbyshire to slot home.
Late on Paul Keegan and Chris Brown had chances for Doncaster, but Latics held on to their two-goal advantage and were never in any serious danger.
Latics (4-4-2): Cisak; Connor Brown, Wabara, M’voto, Grounds; Croft, Furman, Wesolowski, Montano; Derbyshire, Baxter. Subs (not used): Jacob, Tarkowski, Simpson, Smith, Taylor, Millar, M’Changama.
Doncaster (4-4-2): G Woods; Quinn, Jones, Martis, Spurr; Blake, Clingan, Keegan, Husband; Syers (Michael Woods 88), Chris Brown. Subs (not used): Maxted, Griffin, McCombe, Finnigan, Meade, Middleton.
The goals: Wabara (46+1), Derbyshire (70, 77) for Latics. Blake (4) for Doncaster.
Bookings: Clingan (49), Jones (55), Quinn (73), Keegan (90+3) for Doncaster.
Referee: Mr N Miller.
Attendance: 2,783 (510 visitors)