Latics are promoted back to the Sky Bet Championship.
- 4-0 victory at Blackpool sees Latics promoted straight back to the Sky Bet Championship.
- Unbeaten run reaches 20 games, but ends with 3-1 defeat away at Doncaster Rovers.
- Shrewsbury Town, Southend United and Blackpool thumped in promotion run.
League form - W4 D1 L1
Position - 1st
On an 18-game unbeaten run, and with a six point lead on third place Walsall, Latics knew they went into the final month of the campaign with their fate very much in their own hands. If they won their matches, they’d be going back to the Sky Bet Championship.
April couldn’t have started any better as goals from Conor McAleny, Yanic Wildschut, Jason Pearce and a Will Grigg double secured a 5-1 win against Shrewsbury Town, who had taken the lead through Sullay Kaikai. That win sent Caldwell’s side top of League One for the first time in the campaign – not a bad time to peak!
A home 1-0 win over Coventry City only strengthened that grip as Grigg moved to 23 goals in all competitions with the only goal of the game in a match that showed how far Latics had come since their opening day defeat to the Sky Blues.
With five matches remaining, Latics knew three victories would guarantee them a place in the second tier for the 2016-17 – if only things were that simple.
It was fortunate that results elsewhere benefitted Caldwell’s men as they surrendered a 1-0 half-time lead against relegation threatened Doncaster Rovers to lose 3-1, a result that kept Darren Ferguson’s side’s survival hopes alive and allowed Burton Albion and Walsall to make more ground back up on Latics.
Having lost their unbeaten run, Caldwell’s side travelled to their closest rivals Burton three days later knowing a victory would seriously enhance their promotion and title claims. However, the Pirelli Stadium side have built their success upon solid home form and despite Michael Jacobs’ eighth minute opener Latics – without the suspended David Perkins who was sent off at Doncaster - couldn’t secure the win as Tom Naylor headed home from a set-piece to level 1-1 for the Brewers.
Will Grigg applauds to a sold-out away end at full time against Burton Albion.
The pressure was cranked up on Caldwell’s side for the visit of Phil Brown’s Southend United as they knew only victory would keep their control of the top spot. As has so often been the case over the course of the campaign, Latics showed little signs of nerves and produced some of their best football to lead 4-0 after 50 minutes. Chris McCann got the ball rolling before Grigg scored twice prior to the break. The magnificent Jacobs made it four and, when news of Walsall’s 4-0 defeat at Bradford was confirmed, Latics knew they had all-but secured promotion.
The job had to be finished in front of over 3,000 travelling supporters at Blackpool. An exciting prospect for the players but one they knew wasn’t a foregone conclusion with the Seasiders needing a result to bolster their survival chances.
A scrappy, goalless first-half saw Latics far from their best but they again showed the right reaction in the second 45 minutes and once McCann had made the breakthrough, it was a case of giving the huge support something to cheer. Wildschut, brought on from the bench, scored twice, before Grigg bagged his 27th goal of the season in all competitions for 4-0 to confirm our place in the Championship.
Latics’ superior goal difference on Burton Albion all but secured the league title, with the Brewers needing a highly unlikely goal difference swing on the final day of the season.