Latics moved into the final month of the campaign with games in hand they simple had to win to keep their Sky Bet League One title bid alive.
- 2017-18 Season Review: April
- Latics played catch up with eight April games in Sky Bet League One as they secured promotion to the Championship
- Join us on the journey for 2018-19 – Season Cards on sale now!
For all the hard work that had gone before, April was going to be decisive for Latics in their battle for promotion and defeat in the first game of the month at Portsmouth wasn’t the best start. Returning to his former club, Cook saw his side fall to a 2-1 defeat as Brett Pitman and Jamal Lowe scored for Pompey before Will Grigg got a late goal back for Latics. A disappointing defeat, but again, the reaction would be key.
Focused on their goal, Latics bounced back in style the following weekend as Grigg made his former club MK Dons pay with a fine hat-trick, which was supplement with a Nick Powell goal and Ethan Ebanks-Landell own goal in a 5-1 win.
Four days later and Cook’s side put one foot in the Sky Bet Championship with an important win at improving Rochdale. After a tense first-half in which Burn’s header was the difference, a trademark ruthless ten minutes from Latics saw Vaughan, Jacobs and Grigg score to secure a 4-1 victory, which put Latics five points ahead of third place Shrewsbury with just six games to play.
Latics couldn’t move to within one game of promotion when they hosted former player Paul Warne’s Rotherham United at the DW as the two sides played out a goalless draw which strengthened the Millers’ bid for a play-off place and halted Cook’s side’s charge for promotion.
Supporters would then have been nervy after 80 minutes of the game the following Tuesday night against Oxford United as Latics struggled to break down a side they’d put seven past four months earlier. However, substitutes Devante Cole and Grigg combined off the bench for the latter to score another goal to secure a 1-0 victory which, coupled with Shrewsbury’s defeat to Charlton Athletic, put Latics on the brink of promotion.
Latics knew heading to Fleetwood Town last weekend that a win would secure promotion should the Shropshire side fail to beat Bury at home. Cook’s side held their side of the bargain, smashing the Cod Army 4-0 with Max Power, Gavin Massey, Dan Burn and Chey Dunkley on the mark. And, when the already relegated Shakers levelled at the Montgomery Waters Meadow, the wait for the final whistle was both agonizing and relieving in equal measure as players, staff and supporters celebrated a second promotion in three seasons on the pitch and in the stands at Highbury Stadium – a special achievement by an amazing record-breaking team.
Tuesday night’s draw at Bristol Rovers meant the fight for the Sky Bet League One title went to the with Blackburn Rovers, but promotion was always the goal and lifting the trophy was always going to be the icing on the cake…