- Reading v Wigan Athletic match preview.
- Graham Barrow: “There’s no margin for error.”
- Latics head for Reading in must-win match.
- Latics have won on their last three visits to the Madejski.
READING v WIGAN ATHLETIC
SKY BET CHAMPIONSHIP
SATURDAY 29 APRIL 2017
Kick off 3.00pm
TICKETS: Pay on the day available, details here
GRAHAM BARROW: Read the Interim Manager’s thoughts prior to the game, here
MR GREEN: All the latest odds with the club’s new betting partner, here
FOLLOW: Listen to full match commentary on Wish FM or Latics Player HD, details.
This really is do or die for Graham Barrow and his Latics team after Aston Villa’s victory over Birmingham City gave us a stay of execution in terms of Championship survival.
Like a tennis player saving match point, however, we live to fight another day, and although the mountain facing Latics this weekend is a big one, it is not insurmountable.
We have to believe…three things need to happen on Saturday if we are to take the survival fight to the last day versus Leeds United.
1. Latics MUST win at Reading
2. Birmingham City MUST lose at home to Huddersfield Town
3. Blackburn Rovers MUST NOT win against Aston Villa
All that stands in Latics’ way are a team in 4th position in the league, with the 2nd best home record who have not lost at home for nine games.
Former Manchester United and Holland defender Jaap Stam has turned The Royals into a slick passing team and although their hopes of automatic promotion have now vanished, their play-off place looks secure, albeit a hugely inferior goal difference over the other contenders does make them slightly vulnerable.
In other words, they still need points.
No one said it would be easy…however, hope springs eternal...
Jaap Stam, passing philosophy
The big one for Graham Barrow is whether to start Nick Powell. His impact off the bench has been excellent (even against Cardiff, his arrival breathed new life into the side, although he didn’t manage to score for a 4th game in a row).
Other than that, Omar Bogle has had another week to recover so could come back into contention, having only just missed out on the bench last week. Jake Buxton missed the Cardiff match with a toe injury but is a major doubt. However, Will Grigg, Alex Gilbey, Andy Kellett, Reece James, Donervon Daniels and Jakob Haugaard are all definitely out.
For Reading, Jaap Stam may have an eye on the play-offs, he has certainly suggested that Paul McShane and Joey van den Berg will not be rushed back.
Apart from a 7-1 defeat at Norwich City, it has been a dream of a season for The Royals, given that Brighton and Newcastle have been so strong.
Consistent throughout the campaign, Stam has turned The Royals into a very effective unit with a philosophy of passing the ball, and ‘good to watch’ has definitely translated into points. Their one deficiency has been in terms of conceding away from home, literally twice the amount of many promotion rivals, and that has probably proved to be the difference in terms of not really pushing the top two.
The flip side of that coin is that only Brighton have conceded fewer goals at home and they will be looking to finish on a high and go into the play-offs with a degree of momentum.
French veteran striker Yann Kermorgant is having a superb season – he has announced next season will be his last – and with seven goals in his last seven games, is clearly on a hot streak. His fellow striker Lewis Grabban has had an indifferent spell since joining on loan from Bournemouth in January, although he has scored two goals in his last three games and forced his way back into the starting line-up. The striker for whom Bournemouth paid £7 Million is a threat on his day, clearly.
Other dangers come in midfield where ex-Chelsea academy player John Swift and Netherlands international Roy Beerens score a lot of goals.
CURRENT SQUAD, 2016-17 LEADING LEAGUE GOALSCORERS
16, Yann Kermorgant
9, Garath McCleary
8, John Swift
6, Roy Beerens
4, Daniel Williams
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the 44th meeting between the sides, for a change there is plenty of history here. We have met in every division, in every era, at Springfield Park, the DW Stadium (and the JJB for that matter), at Elm Park and the Madejski Stadium.
Latics lead the victory count by 18 to 15 with 10 draws, so it’s pretty even really. How dearly Latics fans would like to make that 19 on Saturday.
The Royals won the reverse fixture comfortably by 3-0 in November but on the plus side, Latics have won on their last three visits to the Madejski, in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 – at least history is on our side…
PLAYED FOR BOTH CLUBS
The big link is of course ‘our very own’ Ali Al Habsi, FA Cup winner, who spent five years with us between 2010 and 2015, one of those players who will always be associated with us.
Andrew Taylor spent last season on loan at the Madejski, Sanmi Odelusi was at Reading as a trainee while Adam Le Fondre also links both in recent times.
Jason Roberts is another big connection, finishing his career in Berkshire.
However, looking back in history, there seem to be very few links, Tomasz Cywka, Mark Bowen, Michael O’Neill and Chris Makin are four who played for both, albeit briefly.
Nigel Adkins on the managerial front is also an obvious connection.
Ali Habsi is a blue...is a blue...
Referee - Tim Robinson (2016-17: 42 games, 172Y, 9R)
Assistant Referee 1 - Ian Cooper
Assistant Referee 2 - Dan Cook
Fourth Official - Craig Hicks